Appalachian State Beats Middle Tennessee 45-13 in 2018 New Orleans Bowl

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2018

Appalachian State quarterback Zac Thomas (12) passes in the first half of the New Orleans Bowl NCAA college football game against Middle Tennessee in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Appalachian State ended the season on a high note with a 45-13 win over Middle Tennessee in the 2018 New Orleans Bowl.

Zac Thomas led the way for the Sun Belt champions with four total touchdowns, helping the squad end the year 11-2 after six straight victories. The Mountaineers also moved to 4-0 in bowl games since joining FBS five years ago.

Brent Stockstill had 330 passing yards and one touchdown in the loss for the 8-6 Blue Raiders.

Appalachian State was playing under an interim coach, Mark Ivey, after head coach Scott Satterfield left for Louisville earlier this month. This didn't seem to affect the squad on the field, especially the elite defense that ranked sixth in the country heading into the contest with just 15.7 points allowed per game.

The unit forced two turnovers while keeping Stockstill under pressure all game. Middle Tennessee also only managed 1.8 yards per carry.

The Mountaineers offense got off to a slow start with turnovers on the first two drives. However, they turned things around in the second quarter thanks to a pair of trick plays.

Receiver Malik Williams threw touchdown passes on consecutive drives, including one to the quarterback on a play that resembled the Philly Special from the Super Bowl:

Those watching were excited to see the creativity:

Once Thomas threw his first touchdown pass of the game on the next drive, Appalachian State built a 21-point lead.

The rout was on in the second half as the quarterback picked up his play even more to help build the Mountaineers' cushion. He finished with 177 passing yards and three touchdowns, while his two interceptions didn't hurt his team.

Corey Sutton caught two of his touchdown passes, totaling eight catches for 78 yards. Darrynton Evans added 108 rushing yards on 14 carries.

Middle Tennessee couldn't keep up with its one-dimensional attack, eventually suffering the 32-point loss.

The Blue Raiders nearly won the Conference USA championship but blew their fourth-quarter lead against UAB. Their season ends with three losses in the final four contests, while head coach Rick Stockstill fell to 2-6 in bowl games during his 13-year career with the program.

Meanwhile, Appalachian State continues to rise and is a team no major program will want to face. Considering its leading passer, rusher and receiver were all sophomores, this will be a dangerous squad in 2019.

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