Try and beat that bowl season. This one set the bar high. Despite giving all it could muster, the Ohio Bobcats still fell 31-29 to a superior Appalachian State Mountaineers team on a field goal as time expired.
With Ohio up 29-28 after a 21-yard Josiah Yazdani field goal, the Mountaineers orchestrated a marvelous drive. App State went 73 yards in 9 plays over 1:47 of play and finished off the game when Zach Matics punched through a 23-yard field goal as the clock moved to 0:00.
Credit the Mountaineers. The favorites made plays when it counted, even when Ohio looked like it find a way to win comfortably.
It wasn't a nail-biter the whole way through. Big plays from the Ohio defense actually had wily Coach Frank Solich's team up 24-7 in the third quarter after this play:
.@OhioFootball's Jovon Johnson responds with a strip, fumble TD return to give the Bobcats a 17-point lead. pic.twitter.com/lTxKVcVwts— Raycom Camellia Bowl (@CamelliaBowl) December 20, 2015
It didn't last
Let's run through it all here real quick.
- After an Ohio field goal brought the Bobcats their first points of the day, disaster struck as Mountaineers quarterback Taylor Lamb lofted a pass over the middle that was easily intercepted by Ohio sophomore linebacker Quentin Poling. Poling returned the pick for a score, just what was needed for an Ohio team that was living off its defense.
- Appalachian State, who probably should have buried the ball on downhill runs to end the half up 7-3, found itself down 10-7.
- On the very next possession, Appalachian State came out of the shotgun, per usual. This proved to be a fatal mistake for App State, whose center snapped the ball of his own bum, and Ohio recovered.
- With 39 seconds left Ohio attacked the air via a JD Sprague toss to Sebastian Smith for 16 yards, and hurried to the line. On the very next play, A.J. Ouellette rushed for his sixth touchdown of the year, benefitting from a double-team from Lucas Powell and Mike Lucas (CHECK), waltzing into the end zone for a 17-7 halftime lead. 17 points over 1:11 of play had Ohio up 10. And this was after Ohio mounted pretty much no offense in the first half.
- The Mountaineers mounted a comeback, and went 97 yards over the last five minutes of the third quarter and first minute of the fourth to pull it back to 24-14. A pass from Lam to burns had the Mountaineers within three.
- On its next possession, Sprague tossed a pass right into the chest of Latrell Gibbs and App St took over on the Ohio 26. One play and 26 yards later, Marcus Cox was in the end zone to cut Ohio's lead to 24-21. That run ended a span of 42 seconds where the Mountaineers scored 14 points. But they weren't done.
- After yet another Sprague interception (this time in the hands of Mondo Williams) App. State moved the ball 47 yards over four plays to go up 28-24 on an 8-yard touchdown pass to Burns.
- After punting the ball on the Ap St. 45 yard-line on 4th and 9 with just over 6:00 to go, App State had the ball on its own 3-yard line. Jovon Johnson picked up a tackle for a safety of Marcus Cox to pull Ohio within two when all things seemed to be piling up against the 'Cats.
- JD Sprague was hurt on an option run on second down with Ohio driving. On 4th and 1 late in App St. territory, the 'Cats were able to convert after near tragedy. After seemingly wasting two timeouts, Windham fumbled the shotgun snap TWICE but found Kawmae Sawyer wide open along the numbers on the right side of the field for a 33-yard gain.