MYRTLE BEACH – The inaugural Myrtle Beach Bowl will be remembered as a record-setting day for Appalachian State sophomore running back Cameron Peoples.
The Lineville, Ala., native had 29 carries for 317 yards and five rushing touchdowns in the 56-28 win over North Texas at Brooks Stadium. Peoples set the all-time NCAA bowl record with 317 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. He scored on runs of 3, 64, 62, 4, and 11 yards for the Mountaineers.
Peoples broke the single-game bowl record for most rushing yards, previously held by Georgia Tech’s PJ Daniels, who had 307 rushing yards against Tulsa in the 2004 Humanitarian Bowl.
People also became the seventh player in NCAA history to score five rushing touchdowns in a bowl game. Toledo’s Kareem Hunt (2014 GoDaddy.com) and Barry Sanders (1988 Holiday Bowl) are two of the notable names on the list.
“It was surreal,” ASU head coach Shawn Clark said. “When he started the season he wasn’t at the top of the depth chart. He worked hard and battled all season long. I’m very proud of him.”
Peoples missed the 2019 season with a torn ACL. He rebounded in 2020 with 1,126 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.
Appalachian State (9-3) became the fourth team in NCAA history to rush for 500 or more yards in a bowl game. The Mountaineers ran the ball 49 times for 502 yards and six rushing touchdowns in the win. ASU’s 502 rushing yards are the fourth-most by a team in NCAA bowl history.
Peoples wasn’t the only ASU player that found success on the ground against the Mean Green. Senior running back Marcus Williams, Jr., recorded 101 rushing yards and one touchdown on six carries. He scored on a 70-yard run to push ASU’s lead to 28-7 with 2:29 left in the first half.
Peoples and Williams combined for 420 rushing yards, the second-highest rushing total by a pair of teammates in NCAA bowl history. Baylor’s Johnny Jefferson (299) and Devin Chafin (161) combined for 460 rushing yards against North Carolina in the 2015 Russell Athletic Bowl.
“That’s our bread and butter on offense to set up the play-action pass,” Clark said. “That was a good defense. The offensive line blocked well. Our receivers blocked well. We got a lot of key blocks that produced some long runs.”
North Texas (4-6) had success on the ground as well. The Mean Green ran the ball 59 times for 242 yards. Tre Siggers had 17 carries for 120 yards, while teammate Oscar Adaway added 26 carries for 97 yards and one touchdown.
“On offense, we had some success,” North Texas head coach Seth Littrell said. “Our backs ran really, really hard. We did a good job upfront.”
ASU (502) and North Texas (242) combined for 742 rushing yards, the fourth-most combined rushing yards in NCAA bowl history.
North Texas played the game without six offensive weapons, including receiver Jaelen Darden, who opted out for the NFL Draft. Darden led the FBS with 19 touchdown receptions this season.
Appalachian State scored on five touchdowns of seven first-half possessions to take a 35-14 halftime lead.
Peoples and receiver Henry Pearson accounted for four of the five touchdowns in the first half.
After a three-and-out on its first drive, ASU scored on its next two possessions to grab a 14-0 lead. The first touchdown came on a double-pass when wide receiver Malik Williams tossed a 22-yard pass to Pearson with 10:54 left in the first quarter. Peoples scored his first touchdown of the day on a 3-yard run with 3:04 left in the first quarter to cap a 13-play, 90-yard drive that consumed more than five minutes.
North Texas got on the board on its third possession when Kason Martin threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Loronzo Thompson to make it 14-7 with 13:41 left in the half.
ASU scored on its final three possessions, including a couple of big plays to complete a near-flawless half on offense.
Pearson recorded his second touchdown of the half when he hauled in an 11-yard reception from Zac Thomas to extend the lead to 21-7 with 6:04 left in the half.
After Marshall missed a 47-yard field goal, Appalachian State scored on the very next play to take a 28-7 lead. Williams, Jr., ran off left tackle and raced untouched 70 yards into the end zone.
North Texas answered with a 9-play, 75-yard scoring drive to cut the lead to 28-14. Adaway scored on a 4-yard run with 27 seconds left in the half.
Following the kickoff, Peoples scored his second touchdown of the half when he broke off a 64-yard run with 11 seconds left in the half. ASU’s final two touchdowns of the half came on consecutive plays from scrimmage and covered 134 total yards.
North Texas scored on its second possession of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 35-21. Jason Bean, the second of two quarterbacks used by the Mean Green, threw a 34-yard pass to sophomore receiver Austin Ogunmakin with 6:14 left in the quarter.
After an exchange of punts, the Mean Green recovered a fumble when Bernardo Rodrigues struck an ASU player and was recovered by North Texas as the Mountaineers 25-yard line, but an illegal formation penalty on UNT negated the play and Rodriguez punted again.
ASU took over at its own 38-yard line and on the very next play; Peoples raced 62 yards for this third touchdown of the game to give the Mountaineers a 42-21 lead. The one-play scoring drive marked the third time in the game ASU scored on the first play of the drive.
On its next possession, Appalachian State ripped off another long touchdown, but a personal foul penalty negated Williams’ 78-yard touchdown run. The Mountaineers shrugged off the penalty and Peoples dashed 76 yards on the next play to give ASU a first-and-goal at the UNT 2-yard line. Peoples finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, his fourth of the game, to give ASU the 49-21 lead.
Not to be outdone, junior cornerback Steven Jones turned in a big play for the ASU defense with a 63-yard interception return in the fourth quarter. The interception set up Peoples record-tying touchdown, an 11-yard run to push the lead to 56-21 with 9:03 left on the clock.
Bean hooked up with Thompson for the second time today with a 7-yard touchdown pass with 6:12 left in the game to make it 56-28.