BOONE — Appalachian State took a step back into Sun Belt Conference contention on Wednesday night. And it did so in stellar fashion.
The Mountaineers (5-2, 2-1 Sun Belt) knocked off No. 14 Coastal Carolina, 30-27. Chase Brice authored a final scoring drive, finding Malik Williams for back-to-back first downs before a game-winning 24-yard field goal by Chandler Staton.
It’s the program’s first win over a ranked program since 2007, when the Mountaineers beat No. 5 Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Williams registered a career high of 206 reception yards, the first App State wide receiver to cross the 200-yard threshold since 2012.
App State looked to doom itself late. Inside the red zone, running back Daetrich Harrington fumbled and Coastal Carolina recovered the ball. The Chanticleers took possession with 6:52 remaining. But the Mountaineers’ defense held strong, forcing CCU to punt after three minutes of play.
Corey Sutton helped the Mountaineers take their first lead of the game, a 28-yard touchdown reception in the early moments of the third quarter. He caught a 40-yard pass earlier in that series that was a sliver of a footstep out of bounds. The Mountaineers were up, 21-20, momentarily before Coastal Carolina found a response.
App State found a boost from some first-half trickery. After scoring its first touchdown of the game, a 1-yard run by Camerun Peoples, the Mountaineers lined up for a kickoff and instead went with a surprise onside attempt.
Freshman kicker Michael Hughes kicked it toward the App State sideline, and the ball was scooped up by Milan Tucker to give the Mountaineers the possession back just over midfield.
Three plays later, quarterback Brice hit Williams with a 47-yard touchdown pass. The score tied the game, 14-14, with 13:20 left in the first half.
The game signaled the return of Peoples, who missed the last two game due to a lingering ankle injury from the Marshall game on Sept. 23. He scored twice in the game, his second a breakthrough for a 43-yard touchdown that tied the teams up again, 27-27.