BOONE — Appalachian State shook off a shaky first half by dominating visiting Campbell in the second half in a 52-21 non-conference victory over the Camels at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
The Mountaineers went into the game missing 21 players because of COVID-19. Three players tested positive for the virus and another 18 were held out because of contract tracing with those players.
Instead of not playing the game, App State chose to hold the game despite being depleted at wide receiver and running back.
Daetrich Harrington, normally the third-string runner, but who has also seen playing time this season, took it from there at running back. The junior responded with 211 yards rushing on 32 carries and touchdown runs of 17, two, 40, and five yards.
It’s the first time an Appalachian State runner scored four touchdowns in one game since Armanti Edwards, who did that at Furman on Oct. 30, 2009.
“I didn’t know that,” Harrington said. “He’s a legend here.”
Other running backs also got some experience at the position. Freshman Nate Noel picked up 131 yards on 14 carries and Watauga product Andreson Castle picked up 42 yards yards on eight carries.
Castle was recruited as a safety after gaining 2,223 yards and scoring 36 touchdowns as the Pioneers’ quarterback in 2019.
“We were at practice on Wednesday and we had three running backs, and he was over there drinking water,” Mountaineers coach Shawn Clark said. “I grabbed him and moved him to offense. That’s the one thing about being the head coach — you’ve got 51 percent of the votes.”
Clark told the staff, which found out about the loss of 21 players and several staffers on Sept. 23, that the Mountaineers had to make adjustments in their game plan. The final adjustments were made two days later.
Clark was proud of the team for making the adjustments on such short notice and under difficult circumstances.
“This is a big-time win for our program,” Clark said. “We had 20-plus players out and four coaching staff — and it’s a great effort for our program.”
Appalachian State did the bulk of its damage after falling behind 13-10 with 3:32 left in the second quarter. App State started a rally when Harrington capped a 51-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run that gave the Mountaineers a 17-13 halftime lead.
Harrington returned to the end zone with a 40-yard touchdown run that gave App State a 24-13 lead. That was the second of six-straight unanswered App State touchdowns. Backup quarterback Jacob Heusman’s 8-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter gave App State a 52-13 lead, its largest of the game.
Campbell finished with 305 yards in total offense, but got 87 of them on a late touchdown catch-and-run play by Austin Hite. Camels quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams completed 7-of-19 passes for 101 yards and was held to 44 yards rushing, which led the Camels.
App State quarterback Zac Thomas hit 12-of-18 passes for 131 yards and was sacked once. Dashaun Davis caught six passes for 40 yards.
App State does not play again until Oct. 7 when the Mountaineers host Louisiana.