On paper, the Dollar General Bowl between MAC champion Toledo and perennial Sun Belt power Appalachian State shaped up to be one of the best matchups of the postseason. Games are not played on paper and that certainly played out down in Mobile, Ala. as the Mountaineers routed the Rockets 34-0 on Saturday night to cap off another season with at least nine wins for head coach Scott Satterfield.
It was quickly apparent that this wasn’t Toledo’s night early — and often. Despite entering the week with an offense that was in the top in the country in terms of scoring, the team couldn’t do much of anything on that side of the ball and recorded four three-and-outs. Record-setting quarterback Logan Woodside never could find much down the field and was pressure on nearly every drop back, throwing for only 124 yards while also tossing three interceptions. Running back Terry Swanson managed 44 hard-fought yards on the ground but didn’t see many carries down the stretch as the team fell further and further behind.
While not much was working for the visitors from the North, few things could go wrong for AppState. Taking advantage of several short fields, the run game didn’t need much to get going and tailbacks Jalin Moore (125 yards, three TDs) and Daetrich Harrington (72 yards) both made quick work of the MAC title holders. Quarterback Taylor Lamb closed out his career with the Mountaineers with a performance that may not have been statically stellar — eight completions, 131 yards, no touchdowns — but was nevertheless plenty in a game the team controlled from pretty much the opening kickoff.
While all those points were nice to have, they didn’t really need all of them given how well the Sun Belt’s top defense looked to stymie their opponents. Linebacker Anthony Flory was all over the place, hauling in a pick and recording eight tackles on the night as they held the most dangerous #MACtion offense to under 200 yards.
That gave the team yet another finishing kick as they won their fourth in a row to close out 2017 and enter with plenty of momentum heading to next season. The same could not be said for the Rockets, which still captured an elusive conference title this year but simply didn’t show up in the Dollar General Bowl and looked out of sorts from start.
When #FunBelt meets #MACtion, you throw out the records. That is especially true on Saturday night at the Dollar General Bowl.
Appalachian State looked like they were the 11-win team and conference champion in the game, rolling to a 20-0 halftime lead over Toledo thanks to some timely turnovers and the hard-nosed running of their star tailback.
Junior Jalin Moore picked up where he left off at the end of the regular season by fighting for 74 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 15 touches, grinding out carries against a loaded front and finding some rhythm as the game went on. That took the pressure off quarterback Taylor Lamb, who was just 4-of-8 for 61 yards but seemed fairly content to just hand the ball off — especially with backup Daetrich Harrington also running for 80 yards in the half on just seven carries.
The Mountaineers’ defense played their role in the big lead too, forcing a pair of turnovers that gave the team two short fields and generally limiting the high-powered Rockets offense to one of their worst performances of the year. Record-setting quarterback Logan Woodside managed only 76 yards and an interception but did seem to pick things up as the clock wound down in the second quarter. Running back Terry Swanson didn’t have any sort of lane to run through however and actually did well in recording 12 yards on the ground given that he was hit in the backfield or at the line on just about every carry.
While things didn’t quite unfold how many expected early in the game, Toledo is still plenty capable of putting up some points in a hurry so this one is by no means locked up for AppState. This was one of the better matchups of bowl season and that will be put to the test if things get interesting after the two teams emerge from the locker room.
It’s been a while, but the wait was more than worth it for the Toledo football program.
Prior to the MAC championship game Saturday afternoon, the oddsmakers had installed Toledo (11-2) as a 21-point favorite over Akron (7-6). That ultimately proved to be relatively accurate as the Rockets had little problem dispatching the Zips in a 45-28 win. With the victory, Toledo claimed its first MAC crown since 2004 and its third win total in the game.
The Zips were making their second appearance in the game and first since 2005.
Leading the way yet again for the Rockets was Logan Woodside, with the quarterback completing 23 of his 37 passes for 307 yards and four touchdowns. Terry Swanson chipped with 180 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
The defense, though, may have been the story of the day for Toledo as they held Akron to just 123 yards of offense — 76 passing, 47 rushing — through almost three quarters of play; as UT’s defense went into prevent mode, Akron finished with 396 yards. While they forced just two turnovers — the Rockets’ offense had five — UT forced five three-and-outs and seven punts overall.