Turnovers sink App State against Coastal

Turnovers coast the Mountaineers in the fourth quarter of a tight loss to the 15th-ranked Chanticleers

Coastal Carolina's Silas Kelly (29) and Enok Makonzo (43) tackle Appalachian State running back Camerun Peoples during the Chanticleers' win Saturday in Conway, South Carolina. (Richard Shiro / AP Photo)

Coastal Carolina intercepted App State quarterback Zac Thomas twice in the fourth quarter as the No. 15 Chanticleers took control of the Sun Belt Conference’s East Division with a 34-23 win over the Mountaineers.

The win moved Coastal to 8-0, 6-0 in conference, while App fell to 6-2, 4-1 in the Sun Belt.

Coastal posted its first ever win over Appalachian State in its seventh game against the Mountaineers.

Three thoughts

1. Coastal entered the fourth quarter ahead 21-20, the latest its ever led App State in a game. The lead then changed hands twice in a wild 15 minutes. App hit a 45-yard field goal to take the lead by two points with 11:47 remaining. Coastal then quickly moved downfield and appeared on the verge of regaining the advantage. At first-and-goal from the 6, quarterback Grayson McCall kept on a run-pass option and headed up the middle. He was hit by Kaiden Smith at the 1 and the ball came loose just before he crossed the goal line. App’s Nick Hampton fell on it in the end zone, giving the Mountaineers the ball and the chance to run time off the clock and pad the lead.

2. App quickly moved the ball, running nearly two minutes off the clock. But Coastal safety Alex Spillum picked off a Thomas pass in Coastal territory, returning it past midfield. The Chanticleers scored a go-ahead touchdown 10 plays later. With App driving to try to regain the lead, Coastal’s D’Jordan Strong intercepted Thomas — Strong’s second of the game — returning it for a pick-six touchdown.

3. App State isn’t out of the running for the East, but they’ll need some help in order to make up the one-game deficit.

“We won the conference the last few years having one loss in the conference,” coach Shawn Clark said. “The East Division is very tough this year, but hey, there’s a lot to be played for.”

“We definitely don’t like being in a position where we can’t control our destiny,” Kaiden Smith said. “Having to rely on other teams isn’t our deal.”

Number to Know

92-37 — Coastal Carolina’s scoring advantage in fourth quarters this year, including a 13-3 edge in Saturday’s game.

They Said It

“Very somber. They know what was at stake. There’s no secret about it. We were playing for the East. They’ll bounce back. That’s what Mountaineers do.”

— Mountaineers coach Shawn Clark on the mood in the locker room

Player of the Game

Camerun Peoples, App State running back — The sophomore rushed 27 times for a career-high 178 yards and a one-yard touchdown run for the game’s first score. The rushing output was nearly half of Peoples’ season total heading into the game.

Critical thinking

App State reached the Coastal 13-, 20- and 25-yard lines on three different drives, but the Mountaineers settled for field goals on all three drives. “Our goal is to score touchdowns,” coach Shawn Clark said. “It was a points battle. Field goals mattered. There was one fourth and (short) where I thought about going for it, but kick the field goal and we take the lead.”

Two of App’s three field goals gave the Mountaineers the lead, and a third extended the App State lead, but in the end, it was the Chanticleers who led when time expired because Appalachian State had too many threes and not enough sixes.