BOONE — Appalachian State running back Darrynton Evans provided the Mountaineers some big plays at the beginning and at the end of Appalachian State’s 56-41 win over visiting Charlotte in front of a Kidd Brewer Stadium crowd of 29,182 fans on Sept. 7.
To start things off, Evans opened the game by racing 87 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the game. To help finish things off, Evans returned a Charlotte onside kick 45 yards for a touchdown with 3:10 left in the game that gave the Mountaineers a 56-41 lead.
Between those touchdowns, Evans rushed for a personal best 234 yards in just 19 carries, which is an average of 12.3 yards per carry. Evans added a 68-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and a 3-yard TD run in the third quarter, giving him four touchdowns.
Evans, who finished with 64 yards in kickoff returns, finished with 298 all-purpose yards.
“The offensive line did a good job opening up holes and pushing people where they needed to be,” Evans said. “The coaches had the right play calls. They saw things from up top and relayed it down to the coaches on the field.”
Appalachian State pulled away from Charlotte in the second quarter when Jordan Fehr recovered a 49ers fumble at the Charlotte 10-yard line. App State quarterback Zac Thomas found Jalen Virgil for a 10-yard touchdown pass and gave App State a 21-13 lead.
On Charlotte’s next possession, the Mountaineers sent a special teams thunderbolt through the 49ers when Shaun Jolly blocked a Charlotte punt deep in UNCC territory. D’Marco Jackson recovered and returned the ball 10 yards for a touchdown, which gave the Mountaineers a 28-13 halftime lead.
Appalachian State’s offense finished with 458 total yards, which fell short to Charlotte’s 526 total. Appalachian State coach Eliah Drinkwitz noted that the Mountaineers were sloppy at times, especially with many missed tackles and bad penalties defensively.
But, Drinkwitz didn’t feel App State was in any danger of losing the game once the Mountaineers took a two-touchdown lead.
“It’s a good win and I’m not going to be negative about it,” Drinkwitz said. “I get that we gave up some yardage on defense and all that stuff, but there never really wasn’t ever a point in the game when I was concerned about losing the game. Once we blocked that punt we were in firm control the entire game.”
Evans’ kickoff return, his third career touchdown returning kickoffs, gave the Mountaineers the cushion they needed to keep Charlotte from getting too close.
It didn’t hurt that Jolly intercepted a Chris Reynolds pass, who moved the 49ers down to the App State 15-yard line before the drive ended.
Reynolds completed 20-of-31 passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns, including two touchdowns to Victor Tucker. Running back Benny LeMay picked up 118 yards rushing on 14 carries, including a 58-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. LeMay scored two rushing TDs and caught a 23-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
Thomas completed 14-of-20 passes for 182 yards and three touchdowns, including a 73-yard completion to Virgil. He ran a post route and caught the pass at the Charlotte 42-yard line and didn’t look back.
Appalachian State didn’t help itself by committing 13 penalties for 148 yards.
“I was disappointed in some of the penalties,” Drinkwitz said. “We had way too many penalties on our team, both offensive and defensive. They’re undisciplined and that comes back to me and that’s going to be fixed.”