Despite Appalachian State kicker Zach Matics missing his first two field goal attempts on Saturday Night, he nailed the game-winning 23-yard attempt as time expired to lift the Mountaineers over the Ohio Bobcats to win the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.
And what an exciting game it was.
Despite Ohio being out gained 427 to 272 in total yards, the Bobcats rallied off 24 consecutive points (including 17 in the final 91 seconds of the first half) to take a three possession lead into the fourth quarter.
After Appalachian State quarterback Taylor Lamb began the scoring with a 21-yard touchdown scamper to go up 7-0, Ohio made their run, highlighted by the superb play of the defense that led them to an eight-win season and a bowl bid.
After a Josiah Yazdani’s field goal started an Ohio run of 24 unanswered points, linebacker Quentin Poling returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown and A.J Ouellette ran in from seven yards out to extend the Bobcats’ lead to 17-7 at the half.
Ohio’s defense once again came up big in the third quarter with a 45-yard fumble return from Javon Johnson that extended their lead to 17, 24-7.
The Mountaineers, however, put together a run of their own in the fourth quarter (21 points in less than two minutes), starting with a 97-yard drive that concluded with a 17-yard touchdown toss from Lamb to Barrett Burns.
Back-to-back interceptions thrown by Ohio quarterback J.D Sprague set up two more touchdowns for the Mountaineers–a 26-yard run by Marcus Cox and another scoring connection between Lamb and Burns that gave Appalachian State a 28-24 lead.
Cox led Appalachian State with 175 yards on 24 carries.
Sprague had a rough time against the Moutaineers on Saturday, completing 14 of 28 passes for 132 yards and the pair of interceptions.
Johnson once again made a big defensive play for the Bobcats, tackling Cox in the end zone for a safety that put Ohio within two at 28-26.
Needing a field goal to take the lead, Ohio’s offense, a unit that was largely ineffective throughout the contest, strung together a much-needed scoring march.
After Sprague went down with an injury, backup quarterback Greg Windham was thrust onto the field and faced a huge fourth down at the Mountaineers’ 46-yard-line.
With a blitz coming, Windham hit Kawmae Sawyer for an enormous 33-yard reception that put Ohio in the red zone.
Three runs later by Ouellette and Yazdani connected on a 23-yard field goal to put Ohio ahead by a point.
With just over a minute remaining, the duo of Taylor Lamb and Jalin Moore combined for 59 yards (Moore ran for 100 yards on 13 carries) to set up the game-winning field goal by Matics to crown Appalachian State the bowl winner in their first season in the FBS.
For the Bobcats, it’s a disappointing end to a season that started with five wins in their first six games and three consecutive victories to conclude the regular season.
Ohio will now aim for 2016 to win their first postseason game since a 2012 Independence Bowl victory over Louisiana Monroe.