BOONE, NC (WBTV) - For the first time ever, the Sun Belt Conference is holding a championship game in football. That game will be in Boone, NC and hosted by Appalachian State.
“To be able to host the first ever Sun Belt Championship game, what an honor,” said App State head coach Scott Satterfield. “We’ve done a lot of first here at Appalachian State, now we are adding to it.”
The Mountaineers will host Louisiana Saturday at noon at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
With a win, the Mountaineers will claim their 3rd straight conference title and will head to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on December 15th as the league champ. Their 4th straight bowl game since joining the FBS ranks in 2014.
App State enters the game at 9-2 and it’s one of those loses that put this team on the path to this title game.
Back on October 25th, the Mountaineers went to Georgia Southern ranked for the first time ever at #25, but got hammered by the Eagles 34-14 down in Statesboro, GA.
“We just knew after that game at Southern, that it was time to buckle down and focus on the little things,” said cornerback Clifton Duck. “Sometimes when it’s a long season, you loose site of the little things. After that game instead of pouting, this team did a great job of focusing back on the little things and getting back to work. We just stayed together and stayed as one.”
One of those little things became better practices.
“These past 3 to 4 weeks of practice have been really great for us,” said wide receiver Corey Sutton. “Every time we come in on a Tuesday and a Wednesday and we compete within ourselves and have a great practice, the results always show on a Saturday.”
This Saturday’s opponent is a familiar opponent in Louisiana. The Mountaineers beat the Ragin' Cajuns back on October 20th by the score of 27-17. In the victory, running back Darrynton Evans had a career day rushing with 183 yards with 1 rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown. The defense came up with 4 sacks and forced 2 turnovers.
As a matter of fact, App State has never lost to Louisiana as they have an all time record of 5-0 over their Sun Belt foe, but there will be no sense of overconfidence.
“They got guys at receiver making plays,” said Duck. “They don’t have to force the ball down the field. They can just get the ball in their hands and watch them make plays so our biggest concern on the back end is containing those players. Keep your eyes on your man because they got some shifty players.”
“You go out and play a Gardner-Webb or a Penn State, it doesn’t matter,” said coach Satterfield. “We have to play the best football we can possibly play and we know what’s riding on this. The last game right here at Kidd Brewer Stadium is for a championship and we are excited about it.”
But maybe the biggest reason this team won’t overlook Louisiana is this group of players simply doesn’t want to let their brothers down.
“I never thought a college program could feel this close,” said Sutton. “Everybody on the team is like a brother and everybody knows that everybody has each other back. We have full faith in the other person that’s on the field that they are going to do their job so no one tries to do too much. Everybody knows their role.”
“We just play for each other,” said Duck. “We just go hard for the man beside you and not for yourself. The program here is exactly what you need to do the things that it is doing.”