Sep 3, 2022; Boone, North Carolina, USA; Appalachian State Mountaineers quarterback Chase Brice (7) looks down field for a receiver against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the second half at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

High-scoring Appalachian State meets No. 6 Texas A&M

After losing in a high-scoring season opener, Appalachian State will take its potent offense down to the southwest to face No. 6 Texas A&M on Saturday in College Station, Texas.

The Mountaineers (0-1) scored 61 points last week, but it wasn’t enough to beat North Carolina.

Appalachian State failed to score on a pair of two-point conversion attempts late in the fourth quarter and fell 63-61.

Mountaineers quarterback Chase Brice — who has had previous stops at Duke and Clemson — threw a school-record six touchdown passes, including four in the last 10-plus minutes of the game. He finished the day 25-of-36 passing for 361 yards.

Despite the defeat, Brice was appreciative of the atmosphere amplified by a record crowd of 40,168 at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, N.C.

“It was electric. I want to give a huge shoutout to the fans from both sides for coming up and being respectful,” Brice said. “I thought it was a great bloodbath between two really good programs. It was just an awesome experience.”

Having previously played in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Brice has played in loud and wild environments before, but Kyle Field is one of the biggest stadiums in college football and can pack in more than 100,000 people. Texas A&M (1-0) won handily there on Saturday, beating Sam Houston 31-0.

The Aggies-Mountaineers game could be another one that shows video-game-like numbers on the scoreboard.

Like Brice, Aggies quarterback Haynes King put up big passing stats in his team’s season opener, completing 20 of 31 passes for 364 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target was Ainias Smith, who had six catches for 164 yards and two scores.

Despite King throwing a pair of interceptions, Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher said he liked the confidence he showed.

“You have to have aggressive intelligence. You got to play aggressively, intelligent,” Fisher said. “You can sit there and say, ‘Don’t throw interceptions’ all day, but we also hit as many big plays as we’ve hit in a long time, too. There was a lot of balls down the field that were hit. There was a lot of catches down the field, these young guys. We just got to clean up.”

Fisher said Aggies tight end Max Wright (knee) is “a question mark” this week and that center Bryce Foster (undisclosed illness) is day-to-day. But after not playing in Week 1, cornerback Jaylon Jones and defensive lineman McKinnley Jackson are expected back.

Even though Appalachian State is 1-6 all-time against opponents in the top 10 of The Associated Press poll, many remember the 2007 stunner against fifth-ranked Michigan, when the Mountaineers won 34-32.

In short: The Aggies can’t overlook the Mountaineers.

“They run that stretch play. That wide stretch play as good as anybody, man,” Fisher said. “And they got really good skill guys, so it’s going to be a challenge.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Boone, North Carolina, USA;Appalachian State Mountaineers wide receiver Christian Wells (9) cannot catch a pass while defended by North Carolina Tar Heels defensive back Storm Duck (3) during the first quarter at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina holds off Appalachian State, 63-61

North Carolina stopped a pair of two-point conversions in the game’s final minute to hold off host Appalachian State 63-61 in a wild in-state affair on Saturday afternoon in Boone, N.C.

Tied at 49 after the Tar Heels once led 41-21 after three quarters, North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye found D.J. Jones wide open on a 42-yard catch-and-run with 2:50 to play for a 56-49 lead.

But Appalachian State quarterback Chase Brice guided the Mountaineers (0-1) to their fifth touchdown of the fourth quarter — a 28-yard pass to Dashaun Davis — to trim the deficit to 56-55.

Deciding to go for the win, the home side had Davis open in the end zone on the ensuing two-point conversion, but Brice overthrew him.

UNC (2-0) added another score when Bryson Nesbit returned the ensuing onside kick 43 yards, but Brice tossed a score to Kaedin Robinson to get it to two points with nine seconds left.

However, the visitors finally locked down the win when Brice was dragged down short on Appalachian State’s second two-point attempt in the last minute.

Maye went 24-of-36 passing for 352 yards with four TD passes to D.J. Jones, J.J. Jones, Kobe Paysour and Nesbit. George Pettaway, Omarion Hampton and Maye rushed for scores.

The Atlantic Coast Conference school played without top wide receiver Josh Downs (knee). The 2021 All-ACC selection caught 101 passes for 1,335 yards in 2021.

The Mountaineers saw Brice go 25-of-37 for 376 yards and six touchdowns. Nate Noel rushed for a game-high 116 yards on 14 carries with two scores, and Camerun Peoples tacked on one score.
Christian Wells, Henry Pearson, Miller Gibbs, Christian Horn, Davis and Robinson had TD receptions.

Before a venue record of 40,168 fans for UNC’s first visit to Kidd-Brewer Stadium, the third meeting between the in-state schools unfolded at a breakneck pace.

Down 21-7 in the opening minute of the second quarter, UNC rolled up 28 unanswered points over a span of 12:35 for a 35-21 edge.

Maye scored on a run to start the second half, and Noah Burnette tacked on field goals from 47 and 44 yards for 34 consecutive points as the Tar Heels built a commanding 41-21 lead before having to hang on in the frantic fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media

Aug 27, 2022; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA;North Carolina Tar Heels receiver Josh Downs (11) catches a touchdown pass during the second half against the Florida A&M Rattlers at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: UNC WR Josh Downs not playing Saturday

North Carolina star receiver Josh Downs will miss Saturday’s game at Appalachian State, multiple outlets reported.

The junior has a lower body injury and did not warm up with the Tar Heels (1-0) before the contest in Boone, N.C.

Downs led North Carolina with nine catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 56-24 season-opening win against Florida A&M.

He earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in 2021 with 101 receptions for 1,335 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games.

–Field Level Media

Christ School senior quarterback Navy Shuler and his dad, former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler, in the backyard of their home on July 2, 2019. 

Tab Shuler 02

Heath Shuler’s son to continue family legacy at Tennessee

The son of former Tennessee quarterback Heath Shuler announced Sunday that he’s going to continue the family legacy with the Volunteers.

Navy Shuler, also a quarterback, is transferring to Tennessee from Appalachian State. While he spent two seasons with the Appalachian State program, he didn’t record any statistics, and because of COVID-related rules, he’ll have four years of eligibility remaining.

“I would like to thank all of the coaches from Power 5 to Group of 5 programs that have offered me. It’s been very humbling,” he posted to Twitter.

“With that being said, I will be transferring to the University of Tennessee, and will be the fifth Shuler in my family to wear the power T. I would like to thank Coach (Josh) Heupel and his staff for giving me this opportunity: Rocky Top has always been my home. It’s time to return!”

Shuler was a three-star recruit in the Class of 2020 and played in high school at Christ School in Arden, N.C.

His father played for Tennessee from 1991-93 and was second to Florida State’s Charlie Ward in Heisman Trophy balloting in 1993.

Heath Shuler threw for 4,089 yards and 36 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions, in his college career and set a number of school passing records that Peyton Manning went on to break.

Washington selected Shuler No. 3 overall in the 1994 NFL draft, but he lasted just three seasons with the team and played a fourth with the New Orleans Saints. In 22 career NFL starts, he had an 8-14 record.

Shuler went on to serve three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing North Carolina.

–Field Level Media

Dec 18, 2021; Boca Raton, Florida, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) attempts a pass against the Appalachian State Mountaineers during the first half in the 2021 Boca Raton Bowl at FAU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Boca Raton Bowl: Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky top Appalachian State

Bailey Zappe threw for six touchdowns on a record-setting day as Western Kentucky wasn’t stopped often in a 59-38 victory against Appalachian State in the Boca Raton Bowl on Saturday in Boca Raton, Fla.

Zappe threw for 422 yards by completing 33 of 47 passes without an interception.

He set Football Bowl Subdivision single-season records by finishing with 62 touchdown passes and 5,967 passing yards.

Jerreth Sterns caught three of the TD passes on his way to 13 catches for 184 yards. Mitchell Tinsley racked up 103 receiving yards on seven catches, with two resulting in touchdowns.

The Hilltoppers (9-5) also received 150 rushing yards on seven carries from Noah Whittington, who scored one touchdown.

Appalachian State (10-4) lost in a bowl game for the first time despite four touchdown throws from Chase Brice. He threw for 317 yards and was intercepted once.

Teammate Camerun Peoples gained 101 rushing yards on 13 carries.

Both teams compiled more than 600 yards of total offense, with Western Kentucky at 637 and Appalachian State at 609.

The Mountaineers held a 21-17 lead in the second quarter. Zappe threw two touchdown passes in the last seven minutes of the first half as Western Kentucky led 31-24 at the break.

Whittington’s 86-yard run opened the second-half scoring, and Zappe threw 2 yards to Tinsley as the margin grew to 45-24 with less than six minutes to play in the third quarter.

If there were snags for the Hilltoppers, they came with having to punt three times and missing a field goal.

Appalachian State was in a bowl for the seventh consecutive season since rising from the Football Championship Subdivision. The Mountaineers are 6-1 now.

Western Kentucky was in its eighth bowl in a 10-year span, improving to 5-3 in those games.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; West Point, New York, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers wide receiver Jerreth Sterns (8) runs for a touchdown against the Army Black Knights during the second half at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

WKU invites Appalachian State to shootout at Boca Raton Bowl

A clash of styles stands as a key plot line in Boca Raton Bowl on Saturday.

Appalachian State, which holds impressive defensive numbers, takes on offensive juggernaut Western Kentucky in Boca Raton, Fla., as bowl season gets underway this weekend.

It’s a chance to finish the season on a high note — and perhaps bag a few records — after disappointing ends to the regular season.

Both teams lost in conference championship games to wind up in Florida.

Western Kentucky fell 49-41 to UTSA in the Conference USA title, while Appalachian State dropped a 24-16 decision to Louisiana in the Sun Belt Conference final.

“We’ll try to win 11 games this year,” Appalachian State coach Shawn Clark said. “Get ready for the bowl game and finish this season out the right way.”

Appalachian State (10-3) ranks second nationally with 109 tackles for loss. That unit will be challenged by Western Kentucky (8-5).

It has been a season of ups and downs for the Hilltoppers, who followed a four-game losing streak by winning seven straight prior to the defeat in the conference title game.

“No matter what happens, I’m going to look back on this season and be really proud of these men,” Hilltoppers coach Tyson Helton said.

Two of the top active receivers in the Football Bowl Subdivision will be on the field. Western Kentucky’s Jerreth Sterns ranks first with 357 career receptions and Appalachian State’s Thomas Hennigan is third with 237. Sterns, a transfer from Houston Baptist, is a second-team All-American.

The Hilltoppers are pass-happy, with quarterback Bailey Zappe leading the country with 5,545 passing yards and 56 touchdown throws. That puts him 289 passing yards and five TD tosses away from setting single-season FBS records.

“That’s a good combination. That’s a great duo,” Helton said of Zappe and Sterns. “A very talented group of guys (on offense), not only Bailey and Jerreth, it’s a lot of other targets like a Mitchell Tinsley, Malachi Corley and a Daewood Davis.”

Zappe, a graduate transfer from Houston Baptist, was selected Conference USA’s Most Valuable Player.

Appalachian State will look to slow down the Hilltoppers with players such as linebacker D’Marco Jackson, the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year.

On offense for the Mountaineers, Hennigan should extend his FBS record of career starts to 65. Camerun Peoples has a Sun Belt-leading 14 rushing touchdowns.

But more important, this might be Peoples’ best time of the year. Last season, he set an NCAA bowl record with 317 rushing yards in the New Orleans Bowl against North Texas in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. He also tied the all-time bowl record with five touchdowns. However, Appalachian State’s leading rusher this year is Nate Noel with 1,076 yards.

Appalachian State is 6-0 all-time in bowls. No other program with more than two appearances has an unblemished bowl record.

This marks Western Kentucky’s eighth bowl in a 10-season span. The Hilltoppers are 4-3 in bowls.

Appalachian State has defeated four bowl-bound teams (Coastal Carolina, East Carolina Georgia State, Marshall) this season.

“I’m very proud of our program and proud of where we are,” Clark said.

Appalachian State’s first trip to Florida this season resulted in a 25-23 loss at Miami in September.

Appalachian State is 4-1 against Western Kentucky, though the teams haven’t met since the 2000 Division I-AA playoffs, when the Mountaineers won.

Sun Belt teams are 10-3 in bowl games vs. Conference USA teams since 2012.

–Field Level Media

Dec 4, 2021; Lafayette, LA, USA; Appalachian State Mountaineers offensive linebacker Nick Hampton (31) sacks Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns quarterback Levi Lewis (1) during the first quarter of the Sun Belt Conference championship game. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

No. 24 Louisiana wins Sun Belt title by edging Appalachian State

Levi Lewis threw for one touchdown and ran for another and No. 24 Louisiana’s defense held down Appalachian State in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 24-16 victory in the Sun Belt Conference Championship game Saturday in Lafayette, La.

The Cajuns (12-1) allowed just 289 yards in head coach Billy Napier’s final game before taking over as Florida’s head coach.

Louisiana clinched a berth in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl by winning for the first time in three title game appearances against the Mountaineers (10-3) in the last four seasons.

Emani Bailey Rushed for 117 yards and a rushing touchdown for Louisiana, which beat visiting Appalachian State during the regular season, 41-13 on Oct. 12. The Cajuns set a school single-season record for wins, all of which have come since a 38-18 loss at Texas in the season opener.

The Cajuns drove to Lewis’ 27-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jefferson on the game’s first possession, producing the only first-quarter points.

The Mountaineers punted on their first four possessions and Louisiana punted on its first two possessions after the opening drive. But midway through the second quarter Lewis broke free for a 56-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 Cajuns’ lead.

Appalachian State finally broke through the fifth time it had the ball as Camerun Peoples ran 43 yards for a touchdown that cut the lead to 14-7 with 2:38 left in the quarter.

After an exchange of punts Louisiana took over at its 46 with 32 seconds left and Lewis drove the Cajuns to Nate Snyder’s 33-yard field goal with one second left, increasing the margin to 17-7 at halftime.

Following the second-half kickoff, the Mountaineers drove 57 yards to Chandler Staton’s 36-yard field goal that pulled them to within 17-10.

The score remained that way until early in the fourth quarter, when Bailey ran 35 yards for a touchdown on third-and-nine play to increase Louisiana’s lead to 24-10 with 12:14 remaining.

With 5:06 remaining, Appalachian State got a 24-yard touchdown pass from Chase Brice to Daetrick Hennigan. The Mountaineers’ ensuing two-point conversion failed, leaving the score 24-16.

Appalachian State got the ball back in the final minute, but Chauncey Manac sacked Brice, forcing a fumble near midfield and recovering it with 23 seconds remaining to secure the victory.

–Field Level Media

Cajuns head coach Billy Napier as ULM Warhawks take on the Louisisana Ragin Cajuns Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.

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Billy Napier closes out Louisiana career vs. Appalachian State

Billy Napier has one more thing to accomplish at Louisiana.

The 24th-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns (11-1, 8-0) have won the Sun Belt Conference West Division title in each of Napier’s four seasons as head coach and lost in the championship game twice.

After seeing last year’s championship game against Coastal Carolina canceled because of COVID-19, Louisiana hosts the Sun Belt title game for the first time when it faces Appalachian State (10-2, 7-1) on Saturday in Lafayette, La.

Napier, who was named head coach at Florida on Sunday, will coach the Cajuns on Saturday in search of their first title game victory. It’s undetermined whether he will coach them in their bowl game. The winner of Saturday’s game goes to the New Orleans Bowl.

“We set out to build a program that would make this University and Louisiana proud,” Napier said.

Louisiana lost its season opener at Texas, 38-18, but has won a school-record 11 games in a row, tying the win total under Napier two years ago.

The distraction of Florida’s courting of Napier was nothing new to the Cajuns. Napier has been a frequent target the last couple of years. Last year he reportedly spurned overtures from two other SEC schools – South Carolina and Auburn.

“It hasn’t been difficult,” safety Kam Pedescleaux said. “I feel like as a team we don’t really focus on those outside things.”

One of reasons for Napier’s lack of interest in other jobs a year ago was that Louisiana was returning 20 starters and expected to have a chance to succeed as it has.

“We know that this group is special,” Pedescleaux said. “All we want to do is bring a championship to Lafayette.”

The Cajuns, who went undefeated in Sun Belt play for the first time, defeated the Mountaineers 41-13 on Oct. 12 in Lafayette.

“After the Louisiana game we came back and we regrouped,” Appalachian State head coach Shawn Clark said. “We didn’t coach well in that game and we didn’t play well in that game.”

The Mountaineers have won six straight since then. The streak started with a 30-27 victory at Coastal Carolina and each of the subsequent victories has come by at least 24 points.

“We’ve been performing at a high level these last couple weeks, and I think that just goes to our preparation,” linebacker D’Marco Jackson said.

The Mountaineers are coming off a dominant defensive effort in a season-ending 27-3 home victory against Georgia Southern last Saturday. They had four sacks and allowed just 194 yards. They’ve allowed a total of just 31 points in their last four games.

“We went back to keeping things a little simpler,” Clark said. “We have really been rallying to the football, getting 11 hats to the football and playing fast. That has shown the last four or five games.”

Like Louisiana, Appalachian State is a very experienced team. The Mountaineers have a group of seven sixth-year seniors who have been part of compiling a 62-15 record.

“This is the third time (the Sun Belt Championship Game) has been played, and it’s been us and Louisiana the whole time,” Clark said. “I think it’s big any time you can have a chance to play for championships and that’s what we sell in our programs.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 20, 2021; Boone, North Carolina, USA; Coastal Carolina Chanticleers linebacker Jeffrey Gunter (94) stops Appalachian State Mountaineers running back Camerun Peoples (6) at the one yard line during the second quarter at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Appalachian St. boots last-second FG to beat No. 14 Coastal Carolina

Chase Brice threw two touchdown passes and Chandler Staton kicked a game-winning field goal from 24 yards away on the last play as host Appalachian State knocked off No. 14 Coastal Carolina 30-27 on Wednesday night in Boone, N.C.

Coastal Carolina (6-1, 2-1 Sun Belt Conference) had won 18 consecutive regular-season games, yet it won’t be the East Division’s representative in the league championship game unless Appalachian State (5-2, 2-1) loses again.

Appalachian State’s only previous victory against a ranked Football Bowl Championship opponent came in 2007 at Michigan. This latest result came with a postgame storming of the field by the fans.

Brice completed 18 of 28 passes for 347 yards without an interception. Malik Williams compiled 206 receiving yards and a score on 10 catches for the Mountaineers.

Appalachian State running back Camerun Peoples, who missed the team’s past two games because of an ankle injury, ran for two touchdowns. Teammate Nate Noel racked up 82 of the Mountaineers’ 228 rushing yards.

Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall completed 15 of 23 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown, and Jaivon Heiligh made six receptions for 103 yards. The Chanticleers were limited to 55 rushing yards. They punted on their last three possessions.

Brice’s 28-yard pass play to Corey Sutton allowed the Mountaineers to take their first lead at 21-20 early in the third quarter.

On the next possession, a 1-yard run by Shermari Jones gave the lead back to Coastal Carolina.

It took Appalachian State just six plays to score again when Peoples burst 43 yards for a touchdown. However, the game stayed tied because a mix-up prevented the Mountaineers from getting off an extra-point kick.

Earlier, the Chanticleers led 14-0 through the first quarter. Jones ran 1 yard for a touchdown, and McCall connected with Kameron Brown on a 74-yard touchdown play.

Appalachian State responded by scoring two touchdowns in less than a two-minute span, the first coming on Peoples’ 1-yard run.

Following a successful onside kick, the Mountaineers struck three plays later on Brice’s 47-yard pass to Williams.

Coastal Carolina converted on field goals of 50 and 46 yards by Massimo Biscardi in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the first half. The second of those came on the last play of the half after an Appalachian State fumble.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Miami Hurricanes quarterback D'Eriq King (1) runs with the ball against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Older QBs square off as No. 22 Miami hosts Appalachian State

When Appalachian State visits 22nd-ranked Miami on Saturday night, it will be a battle between two of the older quarterbacks in college football.

Miami (0-1) is led by D’Eriq King, 24, who began his career with Houston and is now in his second season as the Hurricanes’ QB.

Appalachian State (1-0) is led by Chase Brice, 23, who started his career with Clemson and subsequently played for Duke. He became a starter for the first time last year, going 2-9 with the Blue Devils.

Last week, Brice completed 20 of 27 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns and was intercepted once in a 33-19 win over East Carolina.

King wasn’t nearly as successful last week as his Hurricanes were routed 44-13 by No. 1 Alabama.

Last year, King bested Brice and Duke, 48-0. King completed 16 of 24 passes for 248 yards, three TDs and no picks in that contest (and he ran for a score). Brice was held to 94 passing yards.

Against Alabama, King went 23 of 31 for 178 yards and one TD, although he was intercepted twice.

“He was brave,” Miami coach Manny Diaz said of King, playing his first game since knee surgery in January. “Just seeing him in warmups was emotional. He stood in there. (King) is a warrior.”

Mountaineers coach Shawn Clark is aware of the potential of the entire Miami team.

“There are no holes on their team other than they played Alabama,” Clark said. “They have a talented team.”

While that may be true, Miami — which finished 8-3 last year — has lost three consecutive games. The Hurricanes fell to North Carolina in the 2020 regular-season finale, then lost to Oklahoma State in the Cheez-It Bowl.

As for Saturday’s game, Miami received good news this week when coaches announced that wide receiver Mike Harley — banged up against Alabama — is ready to face the Mountaineers.

Miami has also moved UNLV transfer Justice Oluwaseun to the starter’s role at right tackle.

“When Justice came in (off the bench against Alabama), our protection was more stable,” Diaz said.

If the line is indeed stabilized, King can look for receiving targets such as Charleston Rambo, Key’Shawn Smith, Xavier Restrepo, Harley and tight end Will Mallory.

The Mountaineers will counter with a veteran defense. Only one starter — first-team all-league cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles — departed after last season.

As for a potential weakness, only two starters return on the Mountaineers’ offensive line.

However, Brice has several playmakers to get the ball to, including Thomas Hennigan and Corey Sutton, each of whom has 18 career TD receptions.

The Mountaineers also had two 100-yard rushers against East Carolina: Nate Noel (126 yards, 8.4 average) and Camerun Peoples (100 yards, 7.1 average, two touchdowns).

“It’s a program we have a lot of respect for,” Diaz said when asked about the Mountaineers. “They dominated East Carolina.”

Hurricanes offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee echoed those sentiments and said Miami will have to be much better this week.

“We want to be more explosive,” he said. “We want to score more points. We want to play faster. We want to take care of the ball.

“We weren’t any of those things (against Alabama), and it showed.”

–Field Level Media