CONWAY, S.C. (AP) — Camerun Peoples ran for a bowl-record 319 yards and tied a record with five rushing touchdowns as Appalachian State beat North Texas 56-28 Monday in the Myrtle Beach Bowl to start college football's pandemic-affected bowl season.
Peoples, a sophomore, surpassed the 307 yards rushing of Georgia Tech's PJ Daniels in the 2004 Humanitarian Bowl. Peoples also became the seventh player to run for that many scores in a bowl game, a list that includes Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders and Toledo's Kareem Hunt, as the Mountaineers (9-3) remained perfect in bowls since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2014.
North Texas (4-6) of Conference USA fell behind 28-7 and had no answer for Peoples or the App State rushing game, which finished with 508 yards.
It was a powerful performance by App State and a somewhat normal start to a bowl schedule with few guarantees about how things will play out.
Most years, the Mean Green, who came in with a losing record, would've had their lockers cleaned out until spring practice. But this isn't most years.
The NCAA waived victory minimums for bowl eligibility — how else could 2-8 South Carolina be playing this time of year? — because of COVID-19. The Frisco Bowl, set to start bowl season last Saturday, was canceled when the virus struck SMU, one of that game's teams.
So instead, it was the Mountaineers returning to Coastal Carolina's teal-colored field for the second time this season after losing to the Chanticleers 34-23 in November.
This time, Appalachian State was in control from the start.
Tight end Henry Pearson had first-half TD catches of 22 and 11 yards before the Mountaineers put things out of reach with a 70-yard touchdown run by Marcus Williams Jr. and Peoples' 64-yard burst to the end zone to lead 35-14 at the half.
Peoples piled on with a 62-yard scoring run in the third quarter. He finished the period with a 76-yard run, but was caught just shy of the end zone. No matter. Peoples went in from a yard out for his final touchdown.
He added an 11-yard touchdown run around the left side in the final period. Peoples was still running hard with a 7-yard gain midway through the fourth quarter that moved him atop the NCAA record book for bowl rushing yards.
Appalachian State: The Mountaineers are at their best in the postseason. Throw in Sun Belt title game victories the previous two seasons and Appalachian State is 8-0 following the regular season since moving to the conference in 2014.
North Texas: The Mean Green didn't have their usual firepower against Appalachian State. They were already without their best player in receiver Jaelon Darden, who entered the NFL draft earlier this month after having 74 catches for 1,190 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. Before the game, North Texas announced leading rusher DeAndre Torrey and second-leading receiver Deonte Simpson would not play against the Mountaineers.
Appalachian State, which won four Sun Belt titles from 2016-19, will open at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, facing East Carolina on Sept. 4, 2021.
North Texas: The Mean Green, who open with Northwestern State in September, won nine games in both 2017 and 2018, but just four the past two seasons. Coach Seth Littrell will look to turn that around in 2021.
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