BOONE, N.C. — Eliah Drinkwitz’s second spring scrimmage at the helm of the Appalachian State Mountaineers was dominated by the defensive side of the ball under Saturday morning’s gorgeous March skies at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
An App State defense that led the Sun Belt and ranked fourth nationally last season by giving up just 15.5 points per outing was in a familiar position against its own team Saturday – penetrating into the backfield, making sound open-field tackles and swatting or intercepting passes.
“I thought our defense had great energy, forced turnovers,” Drinkwitz said. “The offense had too many penalties … Our defense played well, and offensively we just have to clean up the mistakes and keep getting better.
Throughout the roughly two-hour scrimmage, the black jerseys were swarming to the ball, led by familiar faces Jordan Fehr, Akeem Davis-Gaither, Demetrius Taylor, Desmond Franklin and Josh Thomas, while being bolstered by the likes of up-and-comers Trey Cobb, Shaun Jolly and Nick Hampton.
“We’ve got some rangy players – long, athletic guys who can play in space. They do a nice job stopping the run, forcing the ball laterally and then chasing it down.
Franklin had the highlight of the day in front of recent teammates Clifton Duck, Okon Godwin and others when he jumped an out route and sprinted to the end zone for a 40-yard pick six against the first-team offense. Sophomore linebacker Jace Frisbee also got into the action with an interception against the second-string offense.
App State’s offense, which also led the Sun Belt and ranked 17th nationally with 37.3 points per game last season, will have high expectations in 2019 as it returns 10 of 11 starters and the vast majority of its production. Zac Thomas has been directing the first-team unit all spring with weapons like Darrynton Evans behind him and Corey Sutton, Thomas Hennigan and Malik Williams at receiver. On the fourth drive of Saturday’s scrimmage, Marcus Williams Jr. ran behind the second-string offensive line for a 2-yard touchdown to cap a Jacob Huesman-led drive.
Chandler Staton looked strong on field goals, making four of his first five on drives that all began just outside the red zone. His longest was a 44-yarder into the moderate mountain wind.
App State is excited to welcome fans, friends and alums to Boone for Mountaineer Day on Saturday, March 30. The team’s third and final spring scrimmage will begin around 10 a.m. inside Kidd Brewer Stadium, pending weather. Click here for full details.