BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State ended the first half even more impressively than the Mountaineers began it, resulting in some helpful separation during a 56-41 victory against Charlotte on Saturday.
They needed every bit of it, with Darrynton Evans answering each big second-half play from the 49ers.
In a White Out game that drew 29,182 fans to The Rock, Evans rushed for a career-high 234 yards and totaled four touchdowns, including an 87-yard run on the first play from scrimmage and a 68-yard touchdown run after Charlotte had cut its deficit to 42-34 midway through the fourth quarter.
The 49ers scored again on a 27-yard touchdown pass with 3:17 remaining, but Evans fielded the onside kick and sprinted 46 yards untouched for his school-record third touchdown via a kickoff return in his career. He finished with 298 all-purpose yards, and Shaun Jolly’s first career reception in the final minute sealed the victory for App State (2-0).
In addition to Evans’ heroics, Zac Thomas had three touchdown passes, including scoring connections of 10 and 73 yards with Jalen Virgil.
Evans’ career-long run gave App State the lead for good in the early going, but the 49ers (1-1) had possession facing a 14-13 deficit in the final 90 seconds of the half.
Demetrius Taylor’s forced fumble on a sack led to Jordan Fehr’s fumble recovery at the Charlotte 10, and Thomas threw a touchdown pass to Virgil on the next play to extend App State’s lead with 1:14 left before the break.
After using three timeouts while the App State defense forced a three-and-out punt, Jolly used his right hand to block the kick. D’Marco Jackson scooped up the loose ball at the Charlotte 16 and raced down the left sideline to score his first career touchdown with 39 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Charlotte never had possession while facing a one-score deficit the rest of the way.
The 49ers opened the third quarter with a touchdown drive to again make it a one-possession game, but Evans’ 3-yard touchdown run on the next series and Virgil’s 73-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter increased App State’s lead to 42-20.
Thomas absorbed a big hit while unleashing the deep throw to Virgil, who caught the ball at the Charlotte 42 and sprinted the rest of the way.
Virgil, who finished with three catches for 86 yards, also gained 45 yards on his first career kick return. Thomas Hennigan had a receiving touchdown for the second straight game, scoring on a 5-yard pass from Thomas late in the first quarter, and Malik Williams set career highs for both catches (six) and receiving yards (73).
Taylor and Noel Cook posted 2.5 tackles for loss to lead App State’s defense, Nick Hampton produced 1.5 sacks and Akeem Davis-Gaither had a hand in two sacks while recording a team-high nine tackles.
Appalachian State is off next weekend before returning to action at North Carolina on Sept. 21.