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Camellia Bowl Recap: Toledo Rockets vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers

The arm and legs of Taylor Lamb led the Mountaineers to victory in a nail biter.

NCAA Football: Camellia Bowl-Appalachian State vs Toledo
MVP Taylor Lamb
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Appalachian State kicked off to Toledo, pitting strength vs. strength. The Toledo offense vs. the Appalachian State defense. After a first down on Toledo’s first play, Appalachian State’s vaunted defense quickly recovered, and forced a punt after 3 more plays.

Appalachian State marched quickly down the field and scored, aided by a Toledo pass interference on a third and 10.

Toledo answered immediately, with a 58 yard pass from Logan Woodside to Corey Jones. After bogging down a bit, Woodside found Michael Roberts on 3rd and 8, who then bulled his way another 6 yards into the end zone, tying up the score.

Next came a punt fest. 6 in a row to be accurate. On the 5th punt, Corey Jones had a long return called back because of a hold. After the 6th punt, the Mountaineers gashed the Rockets defense and scored a touchdown on a Marcus Cox 16 yard run.

On the following drive, Toledo again could not move the football at all, and punted. The game got chippy at that point. Possibly because Toledo was frustrated from not moving the ball, possibly because Appalachian State’s defense was hyped playing so well against a great offense, and probably a bit of both.

On the ensuing punt, the Mountaineers were called for a personal foul, and it backed them up to their own 14. Unable to move the ball, they were forced to punt and Toledo got the ball near midfield.

The Rockets quickly took advantage. Two plays to be exact. A 25 yard pass to Cody Thompson and 26 yard run by Kareem Hunt. That run also moved Kareem Hunt to the top of the list for career rushing yards at Toledo, passing Chester Taylor.

Appalachian State got the ball back with 2:31 left in the first half. Quarterback Taylor Lamb made a huge 21 yard run on a 3rd and 6, but the Mountaineers weren’t able to capitalize, and pinned Toledo back with a punt. The Rockets ran one play, and it was halftime.

On that one play, Hunt broke 5 tackles to gain a yard. For the half, I wouldn’t be shocked if he had more broken tackles than he had yards.

The first half stats were telling on how it was played. Appalachian State had 15 first downs to 4 by the Rockets. Time of possession was 18:52 for the Mountaineers, 11:08. Total yards, Appalachian State led 242-172.

Big plays allowed the Rockets to keep the game even. It was mostly a clean first half, with 5 total penalties and no turnovers.

After a pair of punts from each team to start the second half, Appalachian State was able to move the ball. The key plays were a Taylor Lamb 21 yard run and pass interference on 4th and 6. On a 4th and 1, Taylor Lamb was untouched on the keeper, and scored from 13 yards out, putting the Mountaineers up by 7.

Toledo quickly answered with a 14 play, 75 yard drive, capped by a Woodside to Thompson pass.

And then Appalachian State answered even more quickly, with a 94 yard Darrynton Evans kickoff return for a touchdown.

And then Toledo took their sweet time to answer, going 75 yards on 5 plays. The drive only took 1 minute and 33 seconds. The key play of the drive was a 58 yard reception from Cody Thompson. Along with setting up touchdown after a couple of short runs by Hunt, it also gave Thompson the Toledo single season receiving yards mark. It was held by Lance Moore since 2003.

Going into the 4th quarter, the score was tied 28-28, and my heart was pounding.

On the first drive of the 4th, Toledo stuffed Appalachian State deep in their own zone, only to give them a first down with a penalty. Then on another key third down, Lamb ran 21 yards, partly because the Toledo spy got caught in the traffic in the middle of the field. On 4th down, instead of attempting a field goal, Appalachian State went for the fake, and it failed. Ya, the heart was still pounding.

Toledo lost 7 yards, and then punted away. Appalachian State took over on the Rockets 43.

The Mountaineers were able to kick a field goal on the ensuing drive. The key play was a 23 yard outside run, where there was one of the more obvious holds I have ever seen. I generally don’t complain about refs, and would never say a game hinged on one call (deal with it Oklahoma State) but that wasn’t the first obvious hold missed. There were certainly missed holds by Toledo, too, because this is football, and there is a hold on every play. I just wanted to get that off my chest.

Toledo marched down the field on their next drive, mainly on the legs of Kareem Hunt. Unfortunately for them, the usually reliable field goal kicker, Jameison Vest, missed a 30 yard field goal that would have tied the game with 1:48 left on the clock.

Appalachian State was able to get a first down, and that was that. The Mountaineers won, 31-28.

Aside from winning on the scoreboard, Appalachian State won in the stats column, too. The Mountaineers gained 416 yards to just 374 for the Rockets. 297 of that 416 came on the ground. The first downs were even uglier, 25-14. Neither team had a turnover.

Toledo was able to make big plays though, and Logan Woodside finished 18 for 26, for 247 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Kareem Hunt had 122 yards rushing, on 22 carries and 2 touchdowns. A nice end to the best career for a Rocket’s running back. I am fairly certain he isn’t done playing football, however.

Cody Thompson led all receivers with 5 receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown. This capped the best receiving year in Rockets history. Hopefully he tops it next season.

Michael Roberts capped a phenomenal career and season with a touchdown grab in his game, his 15th on the season, also a record. Not bad for a tight end.

Marcus Cox ran 22 times for 143 yards and touchdown for the Mountaineers. After injuries and the emergence of Jalin Moore pushed the running back out of the forefront, it was nice to see him emerge for his final game.

However, the story of the game was the play of Taylor Lamb, the Mountaineers junior quarterback. His passing stats weren’t that impressive, 14-32 for 119 yards and a touchdown. A lot of his passed were dropped. He also ran 9 times for 126 yards and a touchdown. While statistically impressive, most of his big runs came at key times, and he was certainly the MVP of the game.