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Appalachian State came from behind to stun Marshall. Here’s how the Mountaineers did it

CORRECTS TO SEPT. 23 NOT 2 - Appalachian State wide receiver Thomas Hennigan, right, gets past Marshall linebacker Eli Neal after a reception in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, N.C. (Walt Unks/The Winston-Salem Journal via AP)

CORRECTS TO SEPT. 23 NOT 2 – Appalachian State wide receiver Thomas Hennigan, right, gets past Marshall linebacker Eli Neal after a reception in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, N.C. (Walt Unks/The Winston-Salem Journal via AP)

AP

In a game between former SoCon rivals that appeared to carry over the feistiness one would expect from longtime combatants, Appalachian State dealt Marshall its second consecutive soul-crushing loss in as many weeks to teams from North Carolina.

Trailing by nine to start the final quarter, the Mountaineers did exactly what they needed to do — score a touchdown, make the extra point, and add a field goal — in the final frame, and held on for a 31-30 win over the Thundering Herd at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone on Thursdsay night.

“It was a 15-round heavyweight fight,” App State coach Shawn Clarke said after the game. “We were the last team standing.”

Chandler Staton hit a go-ahead field goal from 45 yards out with 5:45 left, and the defense made a key stand after that, giving the Mountaineers the ball back with just over four minutes to play. Nate Noel had runs of 11, 14, 41 and 22 yards on the final drive, and avoided going into the end zone late to prevent the Herd from getting another offensive possession.

Noel finished with 187 yards on 20 carries. Chase Brice threw for 283 yards on the game, including 127 and a TD to Corey Sutton. Thomas Hennigan also had 123 yards for the Mountaineers. Camerun Peoples had three touchdowns for Appalachian State, as well.

App State scored first on a Peoples run, but Marshall rattled off three straight scores to take a 13-7 lead in the second quarter.

App State responded with a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that covered 5:23, and Peoples scored on a 2-yard run midway through the quarter.

Marshall went back ahead in seconds on a 97-yard kickoff return by Rasheen Ali, but the Mountaineers had time for one more drive in the first half, and made it count. Peoples barreled into the end zone to put App State on top, 21-20, at the half.

Shane Ciucci drilled his third field goal of the night for Marshall and Rasheen Ali added another TD late in the third to put Marshall on top by nine at the end of three, setting the stage for the Mountaineers’ comeback. Sutton scored with 14:09 to play and Staton made the kick to cut the deficit to two, and then he drilled the game-winner.

A week ago, Marshall was ahead of ECU 38-21 after three quarters, but lost to the Pirates, 42-38. The Herd are now 2-2 on the season after opening wins over Navy and N.C. Central before the two recent setbacks.

App State, meanwhile, moves to 3-1, its only loss coming to then-No. 22 Miami on the road two weeks ago.

The Mountaineers are at Georgia State next week in the team’s Sun Belt Conference opener.

This story was originally published September 24, 2021 12:09 AM.

Justin is a 20-year veteran sports journalist with stops in Lewiston, Maine (Sun Journal), and Boston (Boston Herald). A proud husband, and father of twin girls, Pelletier is a Boston University graduate and member of the esteemed Jack Falla sportswriting mafia. He has earned dozens of state and national sportswriting and editing awards covering preps, colleges and professional leagues.

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