Appalachian State used a stifling defense and an interception return for a touchdown to hold back host South Carolina in a 20-15 non-conference victory Saturday night in Columbia, S.C.
The Mountaineers didn't allow a touchdown until the final three minutes and held the Gamecocks to 346 yards of total offense.
South Carolina regained possession with 1:50 to go at its own 45-yard line. After a fourth-and-18 conversion put the ball at the Appalachian State 30, a fourth-and-15 conversion extended the game with the ball at the 9-yard line with nine seconds left. A penalty and incompletion ended the game.
Appalachian State quarterback Zac Thomas scored a touchdown and directed an offense that seemed to put an emphasis on avoiding mistakes and was limited to 202 total yards. Running back Darrynton Evans gained 85 yards on 23 carries.
South Carolina quarterback Ryan Hilinski completed 32 of 57 passes for 325 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The Gamecocks (4-6) finished with 21 yards on the ground.
Appalachian State (8-1), playing in its first game since a home loss to Georgia Southern likely knocked it out of contention for a major bowl bid, has defeated two teams from Power Five conferences. The Mountaineers, who are members of the Sun Belt Conference, won in September at North Carolina.
Parker White's third field goal was a 50-yarder early in the third quarter, pulling South Carolina within 13-9. Appalachian State countered on Thomas' 1-yard touchdown run in building a 20-9 advantage.
In the fourth quarter, South Carolina reached the Appalachian State 35 before Akeem Davis-Gaither's fourth-down sack.
South Carolina converted on its next venture into Mountaineers territory, with Hilinski connecting with Bryan Edwards for a 23-yard scoring play at the 2:58 mark, one play after a fourth-and-15 conversion. A two-point conversion pass failed.
Edwards also made the fourth-down catch to keep the 12-play drive alive.
The Mountaineers took the lead for the first time on Nicholas Ross' 20-yard return of a Hilinski pass with 1:51 remaining in the first half. The pass deflected off a receiver, and Ross grabbed it and raced down the left side to the end zone.
The Mountaineers had only 125 yards of total offense in the first half, but held a 13-6 lead.
The teams traded field goals across the first 22 minutes. White hit from 41 and 25 yards for South Carolina, while Chandler Staton was good from 40 and 47 yards for Appalachian State.
--Field Level Media