BOONE — Saturday brought an Appalachian State victory. But that victory was accompanied by many struggles against a team it walloped only a year ago.
App State managed a 56-41 victory against Charlotte, and it did so thanks to the heroic effort of running back Darrynton Evans.
Evans, a sophomore, scored three rushing touchdowns and added a career-high 234 yards. He also grabbed the ball on an onside kick return, running down the left sideline for a 45-yard touchdown with 3:10 remaining. That play put the game out of reach against a hard-charging Charlotte team that wouldn’t go away.
The 49ers, led by first-year Coach Will Healy, got touchdowns on two of their first four offensive drives. They also opened the second half with a touchdown — pulling within eight points of the Mountaineers — and added two late touchdowns.
Benny Lemay, the 49ers do-everything running back, gave Charlotte its early touchdowns. He capped a six-play, 75-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown. And in the second quarter, he broke away for a 58-yard touchdown. That Lemay run was one of two carries that resulted in 50 yards or more for the 49ers.
Lemay would add another touchdown in the third, catching a short pass from Chris Reynolds, a Davie High School graduate. Reynolds’ day included back-to-back connections with wide receiver Victor Tucker in the fourth quarter that resulted in touchdowns
Lemay finished 20-for-31 passing with four touchdowns. The 49ers rushed for 230 total rushing yards.
The Mountaineers scored their first offensive play of the game, giving the ball to Evans for an 87-yard touchdown. But that would serve as a large chunk of App State’s first-half yardage.
The onside kick return touchdown was the third kickoff return score of Evans’ career. In 2016, Evans had a 94-yard touchdown run during the Camellia Bowl, which App State won 31-28. The second was a 100-yard return touchdown against Penn State in the 2018 opener.
App State trailed Charlotte in the halftime yardage margin (175 to 174) but still managed to find its points later on. Zac Thomas found Thomas Hennigan (for five yards in the first quarter) and Jalen Virgil (for 10 yards in the second and 73 yards in the first) for touchdowns. Thomas was 14 for 20 with 182 yards.
This was the second meeting between the schools. Last season featured the first. The Mountaineers beat the 49ers 45-9, after nearly upsetting Penn State the week before.
Appalachian now gets an off week before a Sept. 21 matchup at North Carolina.