TROY, Ala. — The Sun Belt Conference championship game will return to Boone.

Appalachian State earned that with its 11th win on Friday, handling Troy in a 48-13 victory to close out the regular season.

Now, the Mountaineers (11-1, 7-1 Sun Belt) will host Louisiana on Dec. 7 for the conference crown. It’ll be the second straight title game matchup for the two programs.

App State won the inaugural championship last season, a 30-19 home win, as well as this year’s regular season meeting, a 17-7 result in Lafayette.

And as the championship returns to the High Country, App State will be coming off one of its better all-around performances of 2019.

Appalachian scored 34 first-half points against the Trojans (5-7, 3-5 Sun Belt), who fell short of bowl eligibility. The Mountaineers scored on their first five possessions, also going a perfect 5 of 5 on third downs during that stretch. Thomas Hennigan set career highs for receptions and receiving yards by early in the second quarter, figures he added to as the game went on. And the Mountaineers had four sacks by halftime.

That dominance let App State take command early and never let go.

The Mountaineers' first series took only five plays, ending with 44-yard touchdown catch by Jalen Virgil. The second drive lasted only five more, finalized when Darrynton Evans took off for a 52-yard rushing touchdown.

A Desmond Franklin interception the following series put the Mountaineers 8 yards away from the end zone, and they converted with a 5-yard touchdown run by Zac Thomas, who went 28-of-34 passing in the game.

Malik Williams added a touchdown catch a few minutes into the second quarter, and Evans would run in for another the following drive. Three of those scoring drives were 63 yards or longer.

Hennigan finished the game with 11 receptions and 140 yards. He’s the first App State receiver to register 10-or-more catches since Andrew Peacock in 2013.

Evans had three total touchdowns (two rushing and one receiving). He has 20 total touchdowns this season — 16 rushing, three receiving and one returning.

App State has won at least 11 games in three of its last five seasons, including last year’s 11-2 team that won the New Orleans Bowl. But this is the first time that App State has won its 11th game during the regular season as an FBS program. 

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please keep it clean, turn off CAPS LOCK and don't threaten anyone. Be truthful, nice and proactive. And share with us - we love to hear eyewitness accounts.