NEW ORLEANS (Dec. 21, 2019) – Appalachian State (App State) rallied from an early two-touchdown deficit to take a 31-17 victory over University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in the 19th annual R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Trey Cobb’s 24-yard fumble return for a touchdown snapped a 17-all tie and keyed a 21-point third quarter for the Mountaineers (13-1), who ended the regular season ranked no. 20 in the College Football Playoff rankings and both major polls.
App State running back Darrynton Evans, voted the game’s Most Valuable Player, set a New Orleans Bowl record for yards per carry (8.3), finishing with 157 yards on 19 attempts and a touchdown.
Evans’ touchdown came on an unusual fourth-and-1 play on the opening series of the third quarter. With App State trailing 14-10, quarterback Zac Thomas tried to convert on a quarterback sneak, but the ball was knocked loose. Evans picked it up in the backfield and ran 31 yards for a touchdown, giving the Mountaineers their first lead of the night.
UAB tied the game at 17-all on a 49-yard field goal by Nick Vogel.
On the Blazers’ next possession, Nick Hampton sacked quarterback Tyler Johnston, forcing a fumble that Cobb scooped up and ran down the west sideline for the go-ahead score.
App State made it a two-score game in the final minute of the third quarter when Thomas and Hennigan connected for their second touchdown, this time from 27 yards.
The Blazers (9-5) jumped to a 14-0 lead in the first five minutes behind its passing game. Tyler Johnston connected on 25-yard touchdown passes to Hayden Pittman and Austin Watkins.
“Our defense gave up two plays early,” said App State Coach Shawn Clark, who was coaching in his first game after replacing Eliah Drinkwitz last week. “After that, they played lights out.”
The Sun Belt Conference champions finally got on the board early in the second quarter on a 34-yard field goal by Chandler Staton, then closed within 14-10 on 17-yard pass from Zac Thomas to Thomas Hennigan.
Despite the loss, the Blazers walked away optimistic about what is to come.
“We’ve got almost this whole team back,” said UAB Coach Bill Clark, whose team won Conference USA’s West Division title.
In its 19th year, the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and its affiliated events continue to grow and create significant impact in the Greater New Orleans region, generating an estimated economic impact in excess of $20 million annually.
The game took place at 8 p.m. CST and aired on ESPN and ESPN Radio. For more information on the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, visit www.neworleansbowl.org.
About R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Organized in 2001, the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl is managed by the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, established in 1988, and whose mission it is to attract, manage and promote sporting events to the Greater New Orleans area for the purposes of economic impact. Visit www.neworleansbowl.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @NewOrleansBowl.
About the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation
Organized in August 1988, the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation (GNOSF) is a non-profit 501(c) (4) organization whose mission is to attract and manage sporting events that have a positive economic impact on the Greater New Orleans area. Throughout its 31-year history, the GNOSF has hosted hundreds of events and generated over $3 billion in economic impact for the State of Louisiana and the Greater New Orleans area. More information at www.gnosports.com.