App State stays perfect with Sun Belt win over ULM

BOONE — Appalachian State coach Eli Drinkwitz has a daily reminder for his football team: Do it better than it has ever been done before.

The Mountaineers are working on that.

Zac Thomas threw for 214 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score and No. 24 Appalachian State beat Louisiana-Monroe 52-7 on Saturday for the Mountaineers’ first victory as a Top 25 team.

The win helped bury the memory of getting blown out by Georgia Southern 34-14 last year just five days after breaking into the AP poll at No. 25, as well as avenge a heartbreaking 52-45 loss to Louisiana-Monroe in the last meeting in 2017.

Drinkwitz said he made his players “well aware” of both losses after posting motivational material all over the team’s building, including on the players’ lockers.

“We were motivated to write our own history and to always compete and do it better than it has ever done before,” said Drinkwitz, who remained unbeaten in his first year as Mountaineers coach.

With the win Appalachian State will become the first Sun Belt conference team ever to be ranked in consecutive weeks.

Darrynton Evans added 177 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns to help Appalachian State extend the nation’s third-longest winning streak to 12 games. Only Clemson (22) and Ohio State (13) have longer active streaks.

Appalachian State (6-0, 3-0 Sun Belt) entered the game as one of 12 unbeaten FBS teams in the country, and rattled off 31 straight points in the first half after spotting the Warhawks a 7-0 lead.

Evans got the Mountaineers going on a rain-soaked afternoon by breaking through big hole at the line of scrimmage and racing 59 yards for a touchdown to tie it at 7. Thomas connected on a 6-yard TD pass to Thomas Hennigan in the back of the end zone and scored on a sneak following a Josh Thomas’ fumble recovery to make it 21-7 late in the first quarter.

Thomas did it all for the Mountaineers.

On one late first half possession he eluded two defenders and zig-zagged his way up the field for a 32-yard gain, juking defenders along the way. Then he found Collin Reed in the back of the end zone for a touchdown on a perfectly executed play-action fake.