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App State claims state title mantra with 34-31 win at UNC

They came. They saw. They conquered Chapel Hill.

Appalachian State v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

How sweet it is!

The streak of P5 heartbreaks are over!

Appalachian State pulled off the biggest in-state win in school history with a 34-31 win over UNC Saturday afternoon.

Nick Hampton got his hand on a last-second, 56-yard tying field goal attempt to send the Mountaineer sideline into a giant celebration.

Taylor-made (the big plays)

App State fell behind early as UNC scored just 7 seconds into the game off the back of a 75-yard kick return to the App State 21-yard-line. From that point, App State buckled down.

The offense sustained two solid drives that paid off with field goals and the defense shut the Tar Heel offense down.

Demetrius Taylor gave the Mountaineers their first lead when he hit North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell, stripping him during a blindside sack and scooping it up for a short touchdown recovery run.

It would be the first of three turnovers forced by the App State defense.

After a Zac Thomas interception looked to put the Tar Heel offense in business, Taylor made another big play with an INT and return to the UNC 26-yard-line. Four plays later, Darrynton Evans punched it in from five yards out.

The teams would exchange scores, including an 11-yard Howell touchdown pass with one second before halftime to cut the App lead to 27-17 at the break.

Thomas-Evans respond

The Tar Heels would cut the lead to three midway through the third quarter.

That’s when the Mountaineer backfield put in their most important offensive sequence of the day.

Thomas would find Thomas Hennigan for 31 yards and then Malik Williams for 43 yards on consecutive plays to go deep into Tar Heel territory. Evans would use his next two runs to break the end zone line and put App State back up by two scores.

The response was HUGE. Given the shift in momentum, a quick, fruitless drive could have turned the tide baby blue.

Evans had 78 yards and three rushing touchdowns on the afternoon. Thomas finished with 224 yards on 20-for-29 passing.

The quarterback rushed for a clutch first down on third and five with just under three minutes to play. The first down forced UNC to spend a crucial timeout.

What does it all mean?

Appalachian State v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Calling the win an upset does not truly tell the story of what App State is building in Boone.

With the Tar Heels playing better ball early in the season, the victory gives even more appeal for considering Appalachian State a Top 25 team for the second straight season.

App State will have another Power-5 showdown coming this November when they travel to face South Carolina.

But for now, it puts the rest of FBS on notice that the Mountaineers are capable of sticking around with anyone.

With conference play beginning, it also firmly puts the target on their black-and-gold-colored backs.

But for one week, the state of North Carolina has a football king.

And they sit on a throne in Boone.