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MONTGOMERY MAGIC

The magic continues in the capital city.

For the third consecutive year, the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl was decided in the final two minutes when Toledo sophomore kicker Jameson Vest’s 30-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right to give Appalachian State a thrilling 31-28 win in front of 20,300 fans at the historic Cramton Bowl.

The Mountaineers had taken a 31-28 lead when freshman kicker Michael Rubino nailed a go-ahead 39-yard field goal with 5:14 left on the clock. ASU marched 35 yards in six plays for the winning margin. Rubino made all 14 field goal attempts from inside 40 yards this season.

App State head coach Scott Satterfield had confidence in his young kicker with the game on the line.

“He’s come a long way this season,” Satterfield said. “Our first game against Tennessee, we missed an extra point and we missed a field goal in that game. He’s come a long way. He’s continued to work just like the other kids in our program. They keep working. We don’t give up on them. They keep working.

“He came out here tonight in pregame and kicked the ball beautifully. That right there to win the game with a 39-yard field goal, under 40, I don’t think he missed this year. He’s perfect under 40 (yards) and I’m really proud of him for that. I was proud of Michael to come back and make that kick.”

It was the second straight year App State won the Camellia Bowl with a game-winning field goal. Zach Matics drilled a 23-yard field goal as time expired for a 31-29 win over Ohio University in last year’s game.

Toledo head coach Jason Candle said the game came down to App State making the plays and his team did not.

“They made the plays they needed to make when it mattered,” Candle said. “They drove down and made a field goal. We drove down and didn’t make a field goal.”

The three Raycom Media Camellia Bowl games have been decided by 10 total points. Bowling Green defeated South Alabama 33-28 in the inaugural game in 2014.

Following Rubino’s go-ahead field goal, Toledo’s Corey Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 31 yards to give the Rockets great field positon at their own 43-yard line. Three straight runs by Kareem Hunt moved the Rockets to the App State 16-yard line before the ASU defense made three straight plays.

Facing fourth and two, Toledo took a delay of game penalty and sent Vest out for the potential tying field goal.

“It’s not his fault,” Candle said. “We put ourselves in that position and he’s been great for us all year. I’m sure he’s pretty upset, but he’ll come back stronger for us next year.”

LAMB RUNS TO MVP AWARD

He isn’t the featured runner in the offense but Scott Satterfield, who once was a pretty good Appalachian State running quarterback himself, figured the third annual Raycom Media Camellia Bowl might be decided by Taylor Lamb’s feet.

“We thought coming into the game that we would have the opportunity to run the quarterback,” Satterfield said. “In that (Mid-American Conference) league, there are not many offenses that run the quarterback, which we do. And Taylor is a very, very effective runner in our run game. But I didn’t know he would have this much success.”

Lamb registered only the second 100-yard game of his career, gaining 126 yards on nine carries in a 31-28 win over Toledo at Cramton Bowl on Saturday night.

The junior from Calhoun, Ga., made Satterfield proud with his gritty runs that answered the challenge virtually every time the Mountaineers faced a third-and-long situation.

His first run was blown up by the Toledo defense and went for no gain, but it was the only time the Rockets contained him. His next run was a three-yard scramble on a third-and-three play. Midway through the second quarter, he kept on the zone-read option and went 28 yards to set up a Marcus Cox scoring run two plays later.

On the next Appalachian State scoring drive, he was there again, running 28 yards at right end, then running untouched at left end for the final 13 yards and a 21-14 lead. His next keep covered 31 yards but ended with a fake field goal and no points.

He had one more keeper that came up just short of a first down, but the 10-yard run helped Michael Rubino’s 39-yard field goal more manageable.

“He’s one tough cookie,” Satterfield said. “He got hit hard tonight several times. I loved when he broke off that big run and he jumped right up and got our crowd going. That kind of stuff gets your team going. I’m going to tell you what: You don’t see our quarterbacks – in the history of our school – slide. We don’t slide. But that’s the toughness we have. Our kids feed off that. That’s what leaders do. That’s why he’s a winner.”

When Lamb was asked about the play, he had a simple answer.

“I don’t like sliding,” Lamb said. “You can get more yards when you’re going forward. Sliding is kind of going backwards.”

He wasn’t going backwards on Saturday. He won the Bart Starr MVP Award, even after heralded tailback Marcus Cox broke off a late run to finish with a game-high 143 yards. Up until that point, Lamb was the leading rusher but he didn’t second-guess his decision to hand the ball off to Cox.

“I just wanted yards, offensive yards, I wanted first downs,” Lamb said. “It’s easy to hand it off to Marcus Cox and Jalin Moore. That makes my job easy.”

On Saturday, it was Lamb who turned in the biggest performance, accounting for 245 total yards after passing for 119 yards.

“I feel like every game, Taylor can have games like that,” Cox said. “Teams key on me and Jalin so when they stop us they forget about Taylor. And as you can see tonight, Taylor can make plays with his legs.”

APP STATE WINS ANOTHER THRILLER AT CAMELLIA BOWL

Each year, the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl has to live up to the hype of its predecessor.

The inaugural game was decided in the final 64 seconds. The second game was won by a field goal as time expired.

There were no last-minute heroics in the 2016 game, just an exciting game that featured a back-and-forth scoring battle that wasn’t  decided until a final field goal attempt sailed wide right with 1:48 remaining that allowed Appalachian State to pull out a 31-28 win in front of an estimated crowd of 20,300 at Cramton Bowl on Saturday night.

“I’m really, really proud of our guys,” Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield said. “We had so much fight and so much integrity in our football team. They do things right on and off the field and you can’t win close games like this if you don’t do things right on and off the field.”

Appalachian State finished 10-3, winning 21 games and a pair of Camellia Bowls in their first two years of FBS bowl eligibility.

“I made the comment every time we scored, they answered, but that’s the mark of a great team,” Satterfield said. “It was really a wild game, an entertaining game for the fans and for ESPN and everybody watching. It was a great college football game.”

Toledo finished 9-4, losing the Mid-American West title to Western Michigan 55-35, then to the Mountaineers to put a damper on the 2016 season.

“At the end of the day we had a chance to go down and tie the game and we just didn’t convert,” Toledo coach Jason Candle said. “For the most part, I thought we played pretty decent. A lot of credit to App State. Really good defense.

“To go 9-4 in a season is something special. We wanted to get a 10th win, but ultimately we had a pretty good season and we’re looking forward to next season.”

Both of the first two games featured comebacks by one of the participants but that wasn’t the case on Saturday as the score was tied at the end of each of the first three quarters.

“That was a great Toledo team,” said Appalachian State junior quarterback Taylor Lamb, who won the Bart Starr MVP Award. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, it was going to be a four-quarter battle. I think we’ve embraced that all year. You just have to play four quarters and I think our defense did a great job of shutting them down in the second half.”

Much of the pre-game focus was on the matchup between Appalachian State’s vaunted defense and Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside, who leads the NCAA with 45 passing touchdowns this season.

Woodside lived up to the billing, setting a bowl record by completing 69.2 percent of his passes, going 18 of 26 for 247 yards and two touchdowns.

If Appalachian State was going to win with its offense, most analysts would have concluded, it would have been behind the tailback tandem of Marcus Cox and Jalin Moore. And while Cox did finish with 143 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries to become the only Mountaineer to ever gain 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons and the 22nd player to reach the 5,000-yard career plateau, he was overshadowed by the feet of his quarterback.

Lamb rushed for a career-high 126 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries, repeatedly turning third-and-long plays into crucial first downs.

The Mountaineers’ first scoring drive featured two third-and-long conversions with Lamb’s arm, another touchdown came on Lamb’s 13-yard run at left end and a third came on Darrynton Evans’ 94-yard kickoff return.

Each time, the Rockets answered, never taking the lead but tying the game after every Appalachian State touchdown.

Finally, a Mountaineer drive stalled and freshman Michael Rubino kicked a 39-yard field goal with 5:14 remaining. When the Rockets faced the same situation minutes later, Candle took a delay penalty to set up a 30-yard attempt by Jameson Vest, but the sophomore pushed the kick wide right.

“Let him back up a little bit and trust our players,” Candle said of the decision. “If we had to go out and do it again, I’d kick the field goal again. Trust in our kicker, trust in our protection and hopefully we make it. That wasn’t the reason we lost the game. Give App a lot of credit. They are a great team. They play a physical brand of football. They come right at you and they force you to make mistakes. They put the pressure on you.”

Satterfield, who defeated Ohio on a last-second field goal last year, figured he still had some Camellia Bowl magic left. As it turned out, he was able to simply run out the clock.

“Even if he had made it, I felt good about it because we had about two minutes left to go down and kick another field goal to win the game,” Satterfield said. “I loved the game, it was a fun game, a back-and-forth game. I enjoyed this one because we never were behind.”

MARCUS COX LOOKS TO JOIN ELITE COMPANY

Ron Dayne. Tony Dorsett. Charles White. LaDainian Tomlinson. Herschel Walker. Archie Griffin.

Some of the greatest names to ever run the ball in NCAA history are part of an elite club of 18 players, rushers who have reached the 5,000-yard career rushing plateau.

With 40 yards in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl on Saturday night, Appalachian State senior tailback Marcus Cox will join that club.

“That would definitely be a cool experience, to be in that elite company of guys,” he said.

The 5-foot-10, 205-pound senior from Dacula, Ga., should have joined the club earlier this year, but a quad injury sidelined him for four games in the middle of the season.

And while it might have been distressing for Mountaineer fans, little did anyone know that Cox’s backup, Jalin Moore, would make an immediate impact and leave head coach Scott Satterfield some tough questions about playing time once Cox recovered from his injury.

“It’s a good problem to have, to have two backs the caliber of these guys,” Satterfield said. “Marcus became the all-time leading rusher in Appalachian State history this year. And Jalin had a big-time year, almost 1,400 yards rushing. He’s the offensive MVP in the Sun Belt.

“Once Marcus came back, we’re just sort of incorporating both guys into the offense and I think maybe four out of the last five games they both had over 100 yards.”

Cox tore his quad against Miami, putting the brakes on a senior season that had already seen him eclipse the century mark against Tennessee and Old Dominion and average 5.9 yards per carry (50-296) in the first three games of the year against two Power Five conference teams.

Into his shoes stepped Moore, with the sophomore rushing for 257 yards on 39 carries against Akron in his starting debut. He followed it up with 149 yards against Georgia State, 106 against Louisiana-Lafayette and 114 against Idaho as Cox continued to heal.

“I have a lot of love for Jalin, that’s my boy right there,” Cox said. “I just tried to help him the best I could when I was hurt. That was the best way I could contribute to the team. It seemed like I did that. He had a great year this year. Just having us both back there gives us a nice one-two punch.”

When Cox returned to the lineup, the two took turns punishing opponents. Cox had 115 yards on 18 carries in his first game back against Georgia Southern, while Moore had 126 yards on 15 carries.

With the exception of a game late in the year at Troy, both Cox and Moore have tallied 100-yard games over the last five games of the season.

“We usually alternate series with those guys and once they’re fresh, we’ll put them back in, but we do have a few sets where we have them both in the game at the same time,” Satterfield said. “We started doing that about three games ago and that’s been very successful for us. Any time you get two ‘best’ players in the backfield, I think that makes the defense have a hard time defending that.”

Cox didn’t want to second-guess his coach’s strategy, but it was clear he likes it best when both players are in the backfield at the same time.

“It really doesn’t matter,” he said, “but I feel like when we’re both back there, it’s definitely a lethal part of our offense.”

Last year, Cox earned the Bart Starr Award as the game’s most valuable player in a last-second victory over Ohio, propelling the Mountaineers to a 9-3 season and a conference championship in 2016.

“Winning MVP last year was definitely a cool experience,” Cox said. “I didn’t think I was going to get it, but I’m definitely honored and blessed to receive that award. I’d definitely love to take it home again one more time and end my career right, but at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter if we don’t get the win.”

RAYCOM MEDIA CAMELLIA BOWL NOTEBOOK

The 2016 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl is one of eight bowl games where both teams have at least nine wins and that makes for must-see-TV on the opening day of the bowl season. The others are Las Vegas Bowl, Alamo Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl, Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl.

The Camellia Bowl is rated No. 6 in the list of Top 10 Bowl Games to Watch, according to Sports Illustrated. The Camellia Bowl rated No. 12 among the 40 bowls by the USA Today.

“The Sun Belt co-champion Mountaineers take on the high-flying Rockets, who came within a game of playing for the MAC title in this opening-day treat. Leading the way for Toledo is veteran QB Logan Woodside, who has 43 TD passes this season with the help of an explosive receiving corps. ASU QB Taylor Lamb isn’t quite as prolific but directs a solid ground attack that has helped them to a possession-time edge of nearly eight minutes per game,” according to USA Today.

NCAA’S TOP RUSHERS SQUARE OFF:

Two of the NCAA’s top three active career rushers will meet in the 2016 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.

Appalachian State senior running back Marcus Cox is the NCAA’s second leading active rusher with 4,960 career yards. Toledo’s Kareem Hunt is the third leading active rusher with 4,825 career yards.

Cox needs 128 rushing yards in the Camellia Bowl for his fourth straight 1,000-yard season for the Mountaineers. He has 879 career rushing attempts for 4,960 yards and 51 touchdowns in 44 career games at ASU.

Hunt needs 24 rushing yards to become the Rockets all-time leading rusher. He has 760 career rushing attempts for 4,825 yards and 42 touchdowns in 42 games.

“I have been fortunate to coach some really good players, some guys who live for that opportunity,” Toledo head coach Jason Candle said. “There are a lot of guys on this team like that, they really are. Kareem is not exception to that. He has had a storied career. He has a chance to go over 5,000 yards in his career, that is doing some work at running back. In today’s football you get hit a lot.  It’s a beating on your body. He stayed healthy all year and stayed the course. I am really proud of his growth and development.”

Cox and Hunt have combined for 9,785 yards and 93 touchdowns.

NCAA ACTIVE RUSHING LEADERS

Player, School                                                    Career Yards

Donnel Pumphrey, SD State                            6,290

Marcus Cox, Appalachian State                     4,960

Kareem Hunt, Toledo                                        4,825

De’Angelo Henderson, Coastal Carolina     4,635

Dalvin Cook, Florida State                                4,319

 

APP STATE WINTER HOME:

The Mountaineers are playing their fourth game in the state of Alabama, including back-to-back Camellia Bowl games, in the past 372 calendar days. ASU faces Toledo on Saturday at the Cramton Bowl and suffered a 28-24 loss at Troy back on Nov. 12.

App State played at South Alabama on Dec. 5, 2015 and made it first-ever bowl appearance with a 31-29 win over Ohio in last year’s Camellia Bowl.

Satterfield was asked on Friday he was considering a winter home in the capital city.

“I might move here (if someone would buy me a house). It’s third time in a year we have been down here. We are pretty used to coming down here. This is probably the closest venue for our fans to see us in a bowl game. We have a lot of alumni in the Atlanta area, which is not that far to come over here.

“It a pretty good trip for our fans to come here and hopefully they will pack it out like they did last year. We fed off those fans throughout that game, especially when we started making that second half comeback. That was huge for us. Hopefully, we will have more of our App fans here this year.”

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WOODROW LOWE RECEIVES ALABAMA FOOTBALL LEGEND AWARD

The Raycom Media Camellia Bowl honors its annual Alabama Football Legend Award recipient at a luncheon the day before the game, but former All-American linebacker Woodrow Lowe wasn’t sure why he had been selected.

“I am truly honored,” Lowe said before spending a lot of time telling why he didn’t deserve the award. “From a humble heart and with heartfelt appreciation, gratitude, I say thanks to the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.”

Lowe is one of three players from this state to ever earn All-America honors three times, joining Auburn center Walter Gilbert (1934-36) and Alabama linebacker Cornelius Bennett (1984-86). Lowe set the standard as a sophomore in 1973 with 134 tackles, a school record that remains to this day.

His 315 career tackles from 1972-75 was a school record that was unmatched at the time and is currently fourth behind Wayne Davis (1983-86), Thomas Boyd (1979-82) and C.J. Mosley (2010-13). Lowe played on three Southeastern Conference championship teams and one national champion (1973) and played 11 seasons in the National Football League with the San Diego Chargers.

The Alabama Football Legend Award, presented by Regions, went to Birmingham native and former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden in 2014 and former Auburn coach Pat Dye in 2015.

“I had an opportunity to meet Coach Bowden,” Lowe said, “and I was so submissive, just getting a chance to shake his hand. And, of course, Coach Dye recruited me and he coached me at Alabama. That’s my coach. These awards, we’ve gotten a lot of them but football isn’t about who I am, it’s just what I do.”

After retiring from the NFL, Lowe got into coaching at the high school, collegiate and professional ranks, most notably with his alma mater, Central High in Phenix City. He retired last year from Jackson State.

“In recruiting, you always judge a young man when they shake your hard,” Toledo coach Jason Candle said. “I shook Woodrow’s hand last night and he almost took my arm off. I know this guy was real when he played football.”

Lowe was one of the best linebackers to ever play for Paul “Bear” Bryant and spent much of his time at the Friday luncheon using Bryant-isms as a teaching moment for the Toledo and Appalachian State players.

“The lessons of discipline, sacrifice, hard work, team work, fighting to achieve, aren’t being taught by many people other than coaches,” Lowe said, reading a Bryant quote from his final years as Alabama’s coach before retiring in 1982.

“A football coach has a captive audience and can teach these lessons because the communication lines between himself and his players are more open than between kids and parents. We’d better teach these lessons or else the country’s future population will be made up of a majority of crooks, drug addicts or people on relief.

“He was surely ahead of his time as far as the game and with people,” Lowe concluded.

APP STATE, TOLEDO READY FOR CAMELLIA BOWL

Both head coaches had shifted gears to game mode when they met with the media at the Cramton Bowl on Friday afternoon.

Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield and Toledo head coach Jason Candle have turned the page on bowl week festivities and are locked in for Saturday’s game which features a pair of 9-win teams.

“We are into game week now.” Candle said. “We will get to the eleventh hour and see what that looks like. We are trying to wind down and make sure we are fine-tuned for the game and hope to go out and play a really good game tomorrow afternoon and represent Toledo one more time with these seniors.”

Satterfield echoed the same sentiments.

“At this point, we are excited about the game,” he said. ”We are in game mode for us on a Friday. We will have our team dinner. We will do everything together. We will do some meetings this evening and get a good night’s sleep tonight. We will have a few more meetings tomorrow and have our team meal before we head over to the stadium and get ready to play.”

Candle also said it was about playing to a certain standard.

“The senior class as set the standard for what this program should look like, what a game should look like when the University of Toledo steps on the field,” he said. “We will play to a certain standard and if it lives up that hype then so be it.  Our guys understand what they are required to do and what a Toledo football game should look like.”

Satterfield said the two sides that don’t get a lot of attention is the ASU offense and Toledo defense. He thinks those units will play a key role on Saturday.

“Two sides that don’t get a lot of talk in this game, is our offense versus their defense,” he said. “I think that will be a great matchup as well. We are going to try and run the football and I am sure they will load the box and stop it.  It will be a very good game, a very competitive game. It could obviously come down to turnovers, a lot of times that is what happens.”

The third annual Raycom Media Camellia Bowl is kickoff on Saturday at 4:35 p.m. (CT). The game will be televised by ESPN.

LONG-TIME FRIENDS MEET IN RAYCOM MEDIA CAMELLIA BOWL

Toledo and Appalachian State fans were eager to learn their bowl destination as the first week of December drew near.

Head coaches Jason Candle and Scott Satterfield were just as eager, but each felt a little nervous as they realized their teams were on a collision course in the third annual Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.

“About three weeks ago, when we found this out, we called each other and said, ‘Hey, are we playing each other?’ ‘Yeah, we’re playing each other,’” said Satterfield, the fourth-year coach at Appalachian State. “So that part of it is friendship but once we play, he’s trying to win, I’m trying to win.”

It’s a friendship that goes back to their days at Toledo in 2009. Candle, who had played and coached at Mount Union, was hired to coach receivers at Toledo by new coach Tim Beckham. Satterfield, who had played and coached at Appalachian State, was hired as a co-offensive coordinator in charge of the passing game.

“Matt Campbell and I were co-offensive coordinators there,” Satterfield said. “We had an outstanding staff there, really worked well together. Jason is a really, really good football coach and I learned a lot from Matt, from him, from all the guys on the football staff. We’ve kept in touch since I left and still talk.”

Satterfield would get an opportunity the next season to serve as offensive coordinator at Florida International, returning in 2012 to Appalachian State as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in Jerry Moore’s final season with the Mountaineers.

Candle, meanwhile, remained with the Rockets, rising to offensive coordinator in 2012 after Campbell became the head coach and to associate head coach in 2014.

Despite the constant changes in their lives, Campbell, Candle and Satterfield stayed in touch, forming a bond in that one season at Toledo and the famous noon-time basketball games against the coaching staff.

“Scott is a tremendous human being,” Candle said. “In coaching, you always want to gravitate yourself to good people. He’s got a great wife in Beth and three good kids in Bryce, Isaac and Alli. I don’t know how old they are now but they were little ones when he was at Toledo with us. He is a good family man and someone who is well respected in our profession.”

When Campbell left to take the head coaching position at Iowa State and Candle was promoted to head coach of the Rockets, one of the first phone calls he made was to Satterfield. The former was preparing for his first game as a head coach in the GoDaddy Bowl and the latter was preparing for his first bowl game in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.

“Over the years, we’ll talk some offensive and defensive schemes, that type of stuff, just in general terms,” Satterfield said.

“When he got the head coaching job last year, he called and we talked a little about when I got the job at App, kind of the things we did initially. We just bounce ideas.

“Throughout the season, we probably talk once or twice, but it’s really just checking in. ‘How are things going?’ That kind of thing. Just friendly talk.”

The conversation must have worked. Candle’s Toledo team defeated Arkansas State, while Satterfield’s Mountaineers defeated Ohio.

“We talk a lot about a lot of things,” Candle said. “Unfortunately, you can’t go to Barnes and Noble and pick up a book and say here’s how to be a Division I-A football coach. You’ve got to try and use resources wisely and reach out to people that you know and trust, people that you respect, people that you know do it the right way.”

Now, as the bowl bids were being handed out, Louisiana-Lafayette was the choice of the New Orleans Bowl, which selected first, and Troy was the choice of the Dollar General Bowl, which selected second. That left Sun Belt co-champion Appalachian State as the best team still available for the Camellia Bowl staff and a 9-3 Mountaineer team was the perfect pairing for a 9-3 Toledo team.

Like it or now, the two friends would be facing each other.

“As we’re coming down to this deal and there’s a chance you’ve got to play each other, you don’t like playing your friends because you still have to go out there and try to win the football game,” Satterfield said.

Candle, asked the same question, said it was more satisfying to beat your friends than your enemies.

Satterfield, confronted with that response, laughed and revised his outlook.

“It’s bragging rights for the rest of the time,” he said. “And, right now, I’m 1-0 in bowl games against Coach Candle. I was at FIU (in 2010) when we played Toledo in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl (and won 34-32) so hopefully he won’t even the score.”

RAYCOM MEDIA CAMELLIA BOWL NOTEBOOK

The 2016 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl has some local flavor, as a total of five Alabama natives appear on the rosters of both teams.

Appalachian State has four Alabama players in its roster, including former Montgomery Academy standout Josh Thomas.

Thomas has been a media darling this week and served as the Mountaineers unofficial team host.  He has also had some down time with his family and friends.

“I just went home (Tuesday) to spend time with my family,” Thomas said. “(On Wednesday night), we found something to do and had fun with my teammates. Just follow me, we’ll find something for sure.”

Thomas anchored a secondary that led the Sun Belt Conference and ranked third nationally with 25 interceptions. The sophomore defensive back played in 11 games and recorded 25 tackles, two interceptions (26 return yards), two tackles for loss (-4 yards), two pass breakups and one quarterback pressure.

“This year, it’s a lot different because now my role is a little bigger, so I’m definitely excited to go out there and play and just help my team get a ‘W,’ Thomas said.

Sophomore defensive back Tae Hayes attended Decatur High School.  He played in 12 games and recorded 18 tackles and one pass breakup for the Mountaineers.

Freshman quarterback Zac Thomas played at Hewitt-Trussville High School. Freshman offensive lineman Cole Garrison played a Clay-Chalkville High School.  Both redshirted this season.

Toledo has one Montgomery native on its roster this season.  Freshman linebacker Tre’Shaun Wilson played at Robert E. Lee High School. The Cramton Bowl, the site of the 2016 Camellia Bowl, was his home field the last three years. Wilson is redshirting this season. Toledo’s interview policy does not allow freshmen to be interviewed.

THURSDAY PRACTICE NOTES

Both teams held a brief walk-thru on Thursday afternoon.  Appalachian State held a 45-minute walk thru at Alabama State University.  Toledo held a 45-minute, closed session at Huntingdon College.

FRIDAY SCHEUDLE OF EVENTS

Both teams will hold full speed practices on Friday at their respective practice sites. Both sessions are closed to the media and public.

Appalachian State and Toledo will attend the 2016 Alabama Football Legend Awards Luncheon at the Renaissance Hotel on Friday at Noon. Former three-time University of Alabama All-American Woodrow Lowe is this year’s Alabama Football Legend.

ASU head coach Scott Satterfield and Toledo head coach Jason Candle will meet with the media on Friday at the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl Head Coaches Press Conference at the Cramton Bowl.

Both teams are expected to have a brief walk thru at the stadium with potential team photos.

 

TOLEDO BOASTS PHYSICAL DEFENSE

The trademark of the Toledo defense is to be physical and make plays.

“We are a team that as you watch them play, you will see 11 hats run to the ball and play physical,” Toledo head coach Jason Candle said. “Hopefully, we can find a way to get a couple of turnovers because we will need some of those in this game.”

The Rockets are a blue-collar team with sound fundamentals on the defensive side of the football.

“We are not a huge pressure team but we are a team that wants to be gap sound and play in our base packages,” Candle said. “We will challenge receivers at the line sometimes.

Junior defensive end John Stepec is one of the Rockets top defenders this season. He was named first-team All-MAC this season after leading the Rockets with 14 tackles for loss (-46 yards) and 13 quarterback pressures. He ranks second on the team with 4.5 sacks (-20 yards) and third with 66 tackles.

Senior defensive tackle Treyvon Hester was named second-team All-MAC despite missing two games this season. Hester led the team with five sacks (-28 yards) and finished third with eight tackles for loss (-33 yards). He also added 39 tackles and seven quarterback hurries.

Senior free safety DeJuan Rogers was a second-team All-MAC selection. He led the team with 82 tackles and finished second with seven passes defended.

Junior inside linebacker Ja’Wuan Woodley was named third-team All-MAC. He was second on the team with 71 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss (-66 yards).

TOLEDO DEFENSE:

  • Toledo leads the MAC in opponents third down conversions this year. Toledo opponents have converted 58-of-171 (.339) third downs this season.
  • Toledo ranks third in the MAC in scoring defense. The Rockets have allowed 25.3 points per game this season. Toledo won all seven games when holding the opposition to 20 points or less this season.