Coastal overloads App State 34-23

Senior linebacker Silas Kelly and senior defensive tackle CJ Brewer take down Appalachian State running back Cameron Peoples in the first half of Coastal's 34-23 win over the Mountaineers on Saturday, Nov. 21. The win was the first victory for Coastal over the Mountaineers and now puts them at 8-0 on the year and in the drivers seat to clinch the East Division in the Sun Belt. Photo by Ian Livingston Brooking.

For Coastal Carolina, Saturday's win over Appalachian State was arguably the biggest game in program history.

App State has been the cream of the Sun Belt Conference since joining in 2014. The Mountaineers have crowned conference champions for four straight seasons and have been a major thorn in the side of the Chanticleers.

With a 34-23 victory over the Mountaineers Saturday, the Chanticleers silenced doubters that they couldn't get "the big win." That now puts the Chants in the driver's seat to clinch the East Division and potentially win the conference outright.

"[Appalachian State] has been king of the mountain for a long time," head coach Jamey Chadwell said. "The real challenge now is that we have to go play at the same level the next three weeks."

Leading up to Saturday's contest, there was some jawing between the two programs.

Following their win over Arkansas State in late October, Mountaineer defensive end Demetrius Taylor said that the team was "tired of hearing about Coastal and Lafayette".

"They still have to come through Boone," Taylor told reporters.

That chatter continued throughout the game Saturday.

After the Mountaineers scored right before the end of the first half, the special teams unit for App State came onto the field dancing, jumping and having a good ole time. The teams continued to exchange words going into the break.

"They were telling our guys as we were going off the field at halftime that we couldn't play from behind and I think that motivated us," Chadwell said.

Senior defensive end CJ Brewer had a more colorful way of explaining that moment.

"It pissed us off," he said.

Once the scoreboard hit triple zero and Brooks Stadium erupted in delight, junior linebacker Teddy Gallagher had a message for App State faithful.

"It runs through Conway now."

The win on Saturday was monumental for Coastal Carolina. It marked their first 8-0 start since 2014 and the team's first win over Appalachian State in seven meetings. 

However, the journey is not over yet for Chadwell's men. 

"Hopefully, this is not the top moment of the year," Chadwell said. "We hope there is more going forward as our guys continue to earn their respect and we have the opportunity to build here in the Sun Belt."

The 8-0 record is also the best start by any Sun Belt team in the past 20 seasons. This comes after Coastal Carolina was picked preseason to finish not just last in the East division, but last in the conference as a whole.

"We never as a coaching staff brought it up, but I know our guys know of that preseason ranking," Chadwell said. "I know they've used that, but I think once you get to this point, it's just a little added motivation because the team knows they're close to doing something no one believed they could do."

Coastal now sets its sights out west to San Marcos, Texas to face off with the 2-9 Texas State Bobcats. While the opponent doesn't look formidable on paper, the Bobcats have kept things interesting in their matchups with the Chants.

Texas State beat Coastal by 20 in 2017 and was their seventh loss in a nine-game losing streak that plagued the Chanticleers that season. Last year, Texas State nearly made a comeback against the Chants before falling 24-21.

If the Chants take care of business on Saturday, Coastal will not only clinch the East, they will clinch the ability to host the Sun Belt Championship game at Brooks Stadium on Dec. 19. 

After that, the Chants return home for their final home and a renewal of an old flame in Liberty.

Should the Chants go into that matchup undefeated, Chanticleer players and fans agree that ESPN's College Gameday should make an appearance.

"They need to be here," Brewer emphasized. "We feel like it is going to be one of the top G5 games. I feel like that game will be just like [App] and go down to the wire. We don't want them to be here, we need them to be here."

The past 10 weeks have been an incredible journey for Coastal Carolina. And while the win over Appalachian State is certainly a high point for the program and its still youthful FBS history, the journey is not over just yet.

"We've conquered something but we've still got some stuff we have to get done," Chadwell said.

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