Cody Thompson

Associated Press

Appalachian State claims second straight Camellia Bowl thriller

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If the College Football Playoff games can be half as good as the Camellia Bowl, we’ll be in good hands this bowl season.

For the second consecutive December, Appalachian State won a back-and-forth Camellia Bowl, backing up last year’s buzzer-beating 31-29 defeat of Ohio with a 31-28 see-saw win over Toledo on Saturday night.

In what would be the theme all night, the Mountaineers opened the scoring on a 72-yard drive capped by a 16-yard scoring strike from Taylor Lamb to Deltron Hopkins only to see Toledo immediately answer when Logan Woodside found Michael Roberts for a 15-yard score to end a 75-yard march.

Midway through the second quarter, Marcus Cox put App State back in front when he punched in a 13-yard rush to close a 93-yard march, which Kareem Hunt later answered by way of a 26-yard rush to tie the game at 14 at the break.

App State again opened the scoring in the second half, this time a 13-yard Lamb rush, and Toledo again answered on a 4-yard toss from Woodside to Cody Thompson. Appalachian State immediately nudged back in front when Darrynton Evans raced the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to give the Mountaineers a 28-21 lead. Five plays later, Toledo knotted its fourth tie when Hunt found pay dirt for a second time with a 1-yard plunge with 43 ticks left in the third quarter.

The Mountaineers blew a scoring chance on their next possession when a fake field goal pass on a 4th-and-13 flew incomplete, but the App State defense held serve by forcing a three-and-out. Back in field goal range a second time, App State head coach Scott Satterfield made the sensible call by asking Michael Rubino to knock in a 39-yard field goal, which he did, giving the Mountaineers a 31-28 lead with 5:14 remaining.

Given a chance to break serve and take their first lead, Toledo could not convert a 3rd-and-2 rush from the App State 8-yard line. Rockets head coach Jason Candle briefly looked like he was going to try a make-or-break 4th-and-2 with the clock rolling under two minutes to go but accepted a delay of game instead. He will live to regret that decision; Jameson Vest‘s game-tying 30-yard field goal sailed wide right.

Appalachian State (10-3) accepted the ball with 1:42 remaining and did not give it back. The Mountaineers out-rushed Toledo (9-4) 297-127 on the night. Lamb carried nine times for 126 yards and a score while completing 14-of-32 throws for 119 yards and a touchdown. Cox rushed 22 times for a game-high 143 yards and a touchdown.

For Toledo, Woodside completed 18-of-26 passes for 247 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, while Hunt added 22 carries for 120 yards and two scores.