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GUARDIAN CREDIT UNION FCS KICKOFF TIME ANNOUNCED

MONTGOMERY – The 2019 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff will be played on Saturday, Aug. 24, at 2 p.m. (CT) at the historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. The Samford Bulldogs and Youngstown State Penguins will meet in this year’s game.

The 2019 season will mark the third consecutive season that the FCS Kickoff will take place in Montgomery.  Last year, North Carolina A&T defeated Jacksonville State 20-17, and in 2017, Jacksonville State defeated Chattanooga, 27-13. Samford will be the third straight team from the state of Alabama to participate in the event. The FCS Kickoff began in 2014 when Eastern Washington defeated Sam Houston State 56-35 at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.

The Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff will open a tent pole day of College Football 150 themed programming on ESPN. The network announced earlier today that Miami and Florida will meet in the 2019 Camping World Kickoff in Orlando at 7 p.m. on ESPN. ESPN’s CFB150 documentary, Football is US: The College Game will also air as part of the day’s lineup. A full programming schedule will be announced in the coming months.

ESPN’s multiplatform College Football 150 initiative began in early January and will continue with multiple digital initiatives through the year. Starting August 17, ESPN’s linear rollout will include two documentaries, two weekly docuseries and the selection of the 150 greatest games, teams, coaches, and players. The initiative will culminate with the selection of college football’s all-time All-America team surrounding the College Football Playoff National Championship in January 2020.

SAMFORD, YOUNGSTOWN STATE TO MEET AT 2019 GUARDIAN CREDIT UNION FCS KICKOFF

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Samford University and Youngstown State University will open the 2019 college football season at the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff on Saturday, Aug. 24 at the historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. The kickoff time will be announced at a later date by ESPN.

The 2019 season will mark the third straight season the FCS Kickoff will be held in Montgomery.  In 2017, Jacksonville State defeated Chattanooga, 27-13. Last year, North Carolina A&T defeated Jacksonville State 20-17.  Samford will be the third straight team from the state of Alabama to participate in the event.

“We are thrilled to be selected for the 2019 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff game and open FCS football nationally,” Samford Director of Athletics Martin Newton said. “This is a great platform for us to showcase Samford, the university’s mission and the quality of our Bulldog football program to a national audience against a quality opponent.”

The FCS Kickoff is in its sixth year overall.  The event began in 2014 when Eastern Washington defeated Sam Houston State 56-35 at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.  In 2015, Montana knocked off defending FCS champion North Dakota State 38-35 at Grizzly Stadium in Missoula.  In 2016, North Dakota State defeated Charleston Southern 24-17 at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D.

“Taking part in the 2019 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff is a special honor and something we are looking forward to next fall,” Youngstown State Director of Athletics Ron Strollo said. “Everyone throughout the country watches the opening game of the season and it will be fun for our program to take center stage nationally along with Samford.”

Samford, who had a narrow loss at Florida State on Sept. 8, has been to the FCS Playoffs each of the last two seasons under head coach Chris Hatcher.  Overall, Samford has made five playoff appearances in school history.

“It is a great honor to be selected to play in next year’s Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff game,” Hatcher said. “We are excited about the opportunity to play such a quality opponent in Montgomery.  It is a great venue that will bring lots of national attention to our team and university.”

Youngstown State is a perennial power at the FCS level. The Penguins have made 14 NCAA Playoff appearances and have won four FCS National Championships.  YSU won national championships in 1991, 1994, 1995 and 1997, all under former head coach Jim Tressel, who currently serves as the school’s President. YSU lost in the 2016 FCS National Championship Game to James Madison.

“Our football program is excited to take part in the 2019 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff,” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase Youngstown State football on a national stage and we look forward to playing Samford in our 2019 opener at the historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.”

The 2019 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff will be the fifth all-time meeting between Samford and Youngstown State. YSU has won all four of the previous meetings.

FCS Kickoff All-Time Scores:
Aug. 23, 2014                      (#1) Eastern Washington 56, (#17) Sam Houston State 35 (Cheney, Wash.)
Aug. 29, 2015                      (#13) Montana 38, (#1) North Dakota State 35 (Missoula, Mont.)
Aug. 27, 2016                      (#1) North Dakota State 24, (#7) Charleston Southern 17 (Fargo, N.D.)
Aug. 26, 2017                      (#6) Jacksonville State 27, (#12) Chattanooga 13
Aug. 25, 2018                      (#14) North Carolina A&T 20, (#6) Jacksonville State 17

Samford-Youngstown State All-Time Scores:
Dec. 14, 1991                      Youngstown State 10, Samford 0 (FCS Semifinals; Youngstown, Ohio)
Oct. 23, 1993                       Youngstown State 24, Samford 7 (Youngstown, Ohio)
Nov. 23, 2002                      Youngstown State 37, Samford 29 (Youngstown, Ohio)
Nov. 26, 2013                      Youngstown State 38, Samford 24 (FCS First Round; Youngstown, Ohio)

NORTH CAROLINA A&T WINS GUARDIAN CREDIT UNION FCS KICKOFF

MONTGOMERY – No. 14 North Carolina A&T extended its winning to streak to 13 games with a 20-17 win over No. 6 Jacksonville State in the Guardian Credit Union Kickoff Classic at historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.

The Aggies, who are the defending Historic Black College and University (HBCU) national champions, is tied with UCF for the longest winning streak among FBS and FCS teams. The win was also the first win for head coach Sam Washington, who had previously served as defensive coordinator at the school.

North Carolina A&T defensive end Darryl Johnson, Jr., sealed the win when he sacked JSU quarterback Zerrick Cooper at the Aggies 23-yard line with 17 seconds left in the game. Johnson forced a fumble on the play and Antoine Wilder recovered the loose football to end the Gamecocks threat.

JSU drove from its own 20-yard line to the North Carolina A&T 17-yard line in the final 90 seconds before their fourth turnover of the night ended the game.

The Gamecocks outgained the Aggies, 403-178 in the game, but the miscues proved to be too much to overcome.

Jacksonville State fumbled four times in the game, losing three, and threw one interception. The Gamecocks were also penalized 14 times for 149 yards, including a costly penalty in the third quarter that negated an on-side kick and gave the Aggies a short field for the go-ahead score. JSU also missed two potential game-tying field goals in the fourth quarter, one of which was blocked by the Aggies.

Despite its miscues, JSU trailed only 7-3 midway through the third quarter before taking its first lead of the game. In fact, the lead changed hands four times in a four-minute stretch in the third quarter with the Aggies taking a 20-17 lead into the final quarter.

JSU took its first lead of the game when quarterback Cooper hooked up with Daniel Byrd for a 49-yard touchdown pass to give the Gamecocks a 10-7 lead with 6:13 left in the third quarter.  Cooper’s first career touchdown reception capped a three-play, 75-yard drive for the Gamecocks.

The lead was short-lived as North Carolina A&T return man Malik Wilson returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for the go-ahead score.

JSU regained the lead on its next possession with a quick three-play, 65-yard drive capped by Cooper’s 40-yard touchdown pass to Josh Pearson, who also logged his first career TD for the Gamecocks.

Jacksonville State appeared to have recovered a successful on-side kick attempt, but an interference to field the kick penalty on the Gamecocks gave North Carolina A&T the ball on the Gamecocks 36-yard line. The Aggies needed only five plays to regain the lead as quarterback Raynard Lanier tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Bell to put the Aggies ahead to stay.

Jacksonville State had two turnovers and missed two field goals (one blocked) in its final six possessions of the game.

North Carolina A&T took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Lanier fired a 24-yard touchdown pass to Zachary Leslie.

Jacksonville State scored its only points in the first half when Cade Stinnett nailed a 23-yard field goal with 3:55 left in the first half.

Lanier only completed 11-of-34 passes for 111 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Leslie caught three passes for 43 yards and one touchdown.  Jamaal Darden led the defense with 10 tackles in the win.

Cooper completed 24-of-38 passes for 320 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for the Gamecocks. Josh Pearson caught eight passes for 147 yards and one touchdown. Jalen Choice led the Gamecocks with nine tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss. 

 

NORTH CAROLINA A&T HEAD COACH SAM WASHINGTON:

“I thought it was a hard fought game. One of the things I must say: that is a very good football team at Jacksonville State. They’re very well coached. Coach (John) Grass and his staff does a tremendous job, not just a good job, a tremendous job preparing those kids for a ballgame. We’re just super excited that the ball happened to bounce our way a few times. Looking at these numbers, statistically you would think the win would’ve been in reverse. They passed for 323 yards. Our secondary in my opinion played awful. There’s some things that we have got to do, change and get better at. That was one of the things that really stood out. Another thing that I was disappointed with was the kicking game. We feel that if we stop the run, protect the football and win the kicking game, we have a chance to be successful. I think we kind of failed in two of those areas tonight. One of the things I’m most proud of is the way the kids persevered. They kept playing. We have a saying, ‘if something good happens, keep playing. If something bad happens, keep playing.’ Going in I thought it could possibly be a roller coaster-type ballgame and that’s exactly what it was. It swayed up and down several times. We were fortunate to get the win.”

On Jacksonville State limiting NC A&T running back Marquell Cartwright:
“They have a very stingy defense. It’s not just Cartwright. I’ve seen them do that. If you watch them on tape, they get after you. They have those two big guys inside that are very athletic and I thought the defensive ends played very well. They kept him contained, kept him bottled in. We are going to have to go back and look at some ways to attack it because I’m sure other teams are going to try some of the things they had success with. We have to get that fixed as well.”

On getting a win despite the offense finishing with 148 total yards:
“It tells a lot honestly. We don’t look to one particular area to be successful. We hang our hat on all three phases of the game. There are times when the defense is going to have to uphold the offense, and there will be situations and times where the offense is going to have to uphold the defense. There’s always times when special teams are going to have to contribute one way or the other.”

On defending Jacksonville State’s running game:
“We’re a single gap defense. We just did what we do. We’re a vertical team, single gap, everybody responsible for their gap. We use that philosophy and we just stuck with that and it seemed to have worked for us.”

On what he was thinking during the back-and-forth third quarter:
“They can’t score again. I got to the point where I said ‘listen, they can’t score again. If we’re going to win this ballgame, they cannot score again.’ We were able to turn the faucet off so to speak. However, they still had quite a few successful plays, but when we got in the red zone, we were able to get them stopped.”

On what the first win feels like:
“It’s a great feeling, I promise you that. It is a tremendous feeling. It’s a relief. We’ve been going at it since spring camp. We’ve been anxious to get out and play. It’s great to get this first one under our belt.”

On if he called anything special on the blocked field goal:
“We said ‘let’s go all out.’ We sent all 11. That’s what we did. You call that special if you want. Some people call it crazy. It happened to work. That’s one of those things that if it works, you’re a great coach. If it don’t, you know how that goes.”

 

JACKSONVILLE STATE HEAD COACH JOHN GRASS POST GAME QUOTES:

“We just didn’t play well enough to make it happen. We should’ve kicked the field goal to go to overtime rather than going for it at the end of the game, and that one is on me. I got a little greedy trying to win the game, but we turned it over. That’s my fault.”

“I thought our effort was really good. You have to tip your cap to North Carolina A&T. They played hard and played the game the way you’re supposed to play it. They were fundamentally sound and protected the ball, and there were times that we didn’t protect it. I’ve been saying it all summer; we knew it was a game that was going to go down to special teams and who turns it over – more or less. We turned it over the last two times we had it, and you can’t do that in those situations. We more than doubled them in total yardage, but then you go back and look at the penalties, the kicking game and turnovers. And that’s something I blame myself for, too.”

 

To view game stats, click here

2018 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff Set For Saturday, August 25

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The defending Historic Black College and University (HBCU) national champion North Carolina A&T Aggies and the four-time defending Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) champion Jacksonville State Gamecocks will square off in the 2018 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff on Saturday, Aug. 25, at the historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. The game will be televised on ESPN with kickoff time to be set at a later date.

Last year’s Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff Champions, the Jacksonville State University (JSU) Gamecocks, haven’t lost an Ohio Valley Conference game since 2013. In 2017, the Gamecocks posted a 10-2 overall record and adavnced to the FCS playoffs. JSU has won four straight OVC football championships, going 32-0 in conference play during that span. Since 2003, JSU has won seven OVC football championships.

“Jacksonville State is thrilled to open the season in the Guardian FCS Kickoff again in 2018,” Jacksonville State University director of athletics Greg Seitz said. “After playing in the inaugural game last year, we feel it is one of the premier events in all of FCS football and is a great stage for us to showcase our program and FCS football to a national audience. We had a great experience in Montgomery in 2017 and we are excited to be able to give our fans the opportunity to see us play in a setting that is close to Jacksonville.”

The North Carolina A&T Aggies finished the 2017 season with a perfect 12-0 record and won their second Celebration Bowl in three years, defeating Grambling State 21-14. The Aggies have won six HBCU National Championships, including 1951, 1968, 1990, 1999, 2015 and 2017.

“We are pleased to be playing in the FCS Kickoff,” Earl Hilton, North Carolina A&T director of athletics said. “Participating in the game is an indication of how prominent North Carolina A&T State football has become over the past few years. The Aggies are playing in this showcase event because we are one of the best teams on the Division I-FCS level and that is a testament to how hard our players, coaches and administrators are working. I want to thank the organizers for choosing to put our great university, North Carolina A&T State, on this enormous stage. A&T looks forward to playing Jacksonville State, a program that has exemplified what it means to be a nationally-ranked top-10 team on a consistent basis.”

For up-to-the-minute information, visit guardianfcskickoff.com or follow on Twitter and Facebook.

The Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff is one of 31 events owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN.

 

ESPN Events
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 31 collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 14 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 300-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.

ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.

Collegiate Football
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl (Houston); AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (Florida); Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff (Orlando, Fla.); Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); DXL Frisco Bowl (Frisco, Texas); Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff (Montgomery, Ala.); Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Baton Rouge, La.); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); The Home Depot College Football Awards Presented by Gildan (Atlanta) and Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth)

Collegiate Basketball

AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Armed Forces Classic (Ramstein Air Base, Germany); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s (Los Angeles); Gildan Charleston Classic (South Carolina); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men’s Classic presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women’s Classic presented by Corona (Hartford, Conn.); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); PK80 presented by State Farm (Portland, Ore.); Puerto Rico Tip-Off; State Farm Champions Classic (Chicago) and Wooden Legacy (Fullerton, Calif.)

For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.

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ESPN Media Contact: Anna Negron at 860-766-2233 or anna.m.negron@espn.com; @ItsAnnaNegron

 

THOMAS, DEFENSE LEAD GAMECOCKS PAST MOCS

 MONTGOMERY – No. 5 Jacksonville State University used a heavy dose of Roc Thomas and swarming defense to post a 27-13 win over No. 12 Chattanooga in the 2017 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff in front of 12,952 fans at the historic Cramton Bowl in the season-opener for both teams.

Thomas, who transferred to JSU from Auburn in 2016, finished with 190 total yards and one touchdown in the win. He ran the ball 19 times for 122 yards, including a 76-yard TD jaunt in the first quarter that put the Gamecocks ahead to stay.  He also caught three passes for 68 yards.

Jacksonville State (1-0) also brought a stout defensive effort. The Gamecocks recorded 27 plays for zero or negative yards, and recorded 11 pass breakups, five tackles and forced two turnovers in the win. 

Senior linebacker Jonathan Hagler iced the game with a 58-yard interception return to give the Gamecocks a 20-6 lead in the third quarter. Junior linebacker Quan Stoudemire led the team with nine tackles. 

The teams traded first quarter field goals before Thomas ripped a off a 76-yard TD run to give JSU a 10-3 lead with 4:04 left in the first quarter.

Chattanooga (0-1) cut the lead to 10-6 on Victor Ulmo’s 31-yard field goal in the second quarter.

JSU broke the game open in the third quarter with its defense. The Gamecocks held UTC to two rushing yards in the stanza and iced the game with Hagler’s 58-yard interception return to put JSU in front 20-6.

JSU quarterback Bryant Holt found Shaq Davidson with a 59-yard TD pass with 9:44 left in the game to extend the lead to 27-6. Holt completed 14-of-20 passes for 182 yards and one TD in the win. 

 Chattanooga put together an impressive late drive that resulted in Nick Tiano’s 4-yard TD pass to Joseph Parker that made the final 27-13.

 Tiano completed 23-of-43 passes for 218 yards with one TD and two interceptions. He completed seven of eight passes for 89 yards on the Mocs final drive.

 Both teams will have a week off before returning to action on Saturday, Sept. 9. JSU takes on Georgia Tech at historic Grant Field in Atlanta, while Chattanooga faces LSU at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. 

The 2018 Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff will be held on Saturday, Aug. 25. Jacksonville State will play a yet-to-be-named opponent next season in Montgomery. 

CHATTANOOGA HEAD COACH TOM ARTH:

“First of all, I would like to congratulate Jacksonville State. They played a great game. They’re an outstanding team. They’re extremely well coached and they certainly deserved to win that game. For us, just too many errors early on, missed opportunities.

“The big thing for us going forward is going to be our ability to learn from this, to learn from our mistakes and to realize that we’re right there. You’re right there and you’ve got great opportunities. You’ve just got to take advantage of them. When you have penalties and you make some silly mistakes against a team of that caliber, it’s just magnified and we just had a little too much of that tonight.

“I’m proud of the way our defense fought through the entire game. With the exception of a few plays, we played very well on that side of the ball. Offensively, it was great to see coming back in the fourth quarter and getting a chance to work a two-minute situation, going down the field and scoring a touchdown. I think that says a lot about the character of the group and just not giving in and not quitting. We know we can be better. We will be better, but it’s a start for us and we know what we’ve got to do going forward to be the team we’re capable of.”

JACKSONVILLE STATE HEAD COACH JOHN GRASS

“The venue, being able to play nationally televised on ESPN, tonight was a great night for our university and our football program. What a way to start the season off. That was a playoff caliber-type game. That’s probably a second round, quarterfinal-type atmosphere with that type of performance. Chattanooga is always a real talented team, really well coached, so we’re fortunate to come away with a W.

“Number one, you look at it in an opening game and it’s how are you going to gel together and play with extreme effort and play physical, and I thought we were able to do that tonight. There’s a lot of things that we have to go back and cleanup of course, but I thought we beat a good football team pretty good tonight. They had a hard time running the football, so we knew they were going to throw the football a lot. I felt like our defensive line, we played a lot of guys up front and they didn’t get tired. We were able to pressure the passer most of the night. Special teams wise, I thought we played well. We had a couple issues on coverage with kickoffs. Other than that, I thought our kicking team was very clean. We made all our PATs and field goals. Offensively, I thought we were very patient and we just continued to get better as the night went on getting a hat on hat in protection and in the run game. We had some balls that we had to punt that was less than fourth and a yard or two. We’d love to have gotten some more in the end zone when we got in the red zone. We had an interception down there that was a drop tip. I thought Bryant (Horn) played really well for his first game protecting the football. He probably made one bad throw tonight that he forced over the middle with a tip and an interception, but the other one was just a drop. 

“Overall, I thought we played really well. I thought we were able to run the ball as the game went on. It’s a good night to be a Gamecock and a good way to start the season off. We can kind of catch our breath a little bit and have an off week next week and get ready to go on to the task of going to Georgia Tech and playing. Thank you again for Montgomery and the Guardian (Credit Union). This game was excellent. Good thing for our university. Montgomery did a great job of hosting us. I just take my hat off to the classy way the whole event was handled. We appreciate it. Like I said, it was great to be in a nationally televised game and just a good night overall.”

 

GUARDIAN CREDIT UNION JOINS FCS KICKOFF AS TITLE SPONSOR

Guardian_Montgomery_Kickoff_Classic_Match-up_Final_FC_POS

Guardian Credit Union will join as the title sponsor of the FCS Kickoff – a college football season-opening game in Montgomery, Ala. The previously announced matchup for 2017 will feature two of the current top-ranked FCS teams in the nation, Jacksonville State University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff is set for Saturday, Aug. 26 at 5 p.m. CT, on ESPN.

“As the local credit union, Guardian is proud to support the community by working with the City of Montgomery to host the FCS Kickoff,” said Guardian Credit Union CEO Heath Harrell.  “This game will bring great value to our City and we look forward to being a part of another growing tradition in Montgomery.”

“We are thrilled to expand our Events business in the City of Montgomery with the addition of the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff,” said Pete Derzis, Senior Vice President, ESPN Events.  “The enthusiasm and support from both Guardian Credit Union and the City makes this an exciting opportunity for the student-athletes, universities, conferences and the community.  ESPN is proud to collaborate in establishing this event in what we hope will be a staple in kicking off the college football season.”

The FCS Kickoff has provided a national showcase for top FCS schools since its launch in 2014. ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, has assumed ownership of the game and will host it at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl for the next two years in partnership with Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks’ opponent for 2018 will be announced at a later date.


ESPN Events ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 13 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 300-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans. ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program. Collegiate Football AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff (Orlando, Fla.); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff (Montgomery, Ala.); Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Baton Rouge, La.); Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); St. Petersburg Bowl (Florida); Texas Bowl (Houston); The Home Depot College Football Awards (Atlanta) and Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth) Collegiate Basketball AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Armed Forces Classic (Ramstein Air Base, Germany); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s (Los Angeles); Gildan Charleston Classic (South Carolina); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men’s  Classic presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women’s Classic presented by Corona(Uncasville, Conn.); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); PK80 (Portland, Ore.); State Farm Champions Classic (Chicago, Ill.); Tire Pros Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan, P.R.) and Wooden Legacy (Orange County, Calif.) For more information, visit the official websiteFacebookTwitter or YouTube pages. ESPN Media Contact: Rachel Margolis Siegal at 860-766-2798 or rachel.m.siegal@espn.com

Inaugural Montgomery Kickoff Classic: Week 0 College Football Game to be Held in Montgomery, Ala.

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The newly announced Montgomery Kickoff Classic – set for Week 0 on Saturday, Aug. 26 – will help open the college football season from the historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., The game, to air on ESPN, will feature two of the current top-ranked FCS teams in nation, pitting Jacksonville State University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

“We are pleased to be part of college football’s opening weekend from the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., with these two outstanding FCS programs,” said Pete Derzis, senior vice president, ESPN Events. “The greater Montgomery community has been very supportive of the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl since its inception in 2014, so to usher in the 2017 college football season and spotlight this community with their first-class facilities and staffing, is a logical choice.”

City of Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said, “The Montgomery Kickoff Classic complements the flood of sporting events, festivals and conventions that now call Montgomery home and have helped our hotel occupancy rate soar to the highest level in the state. This signature event will make the Montgomery brand even more synonymous with sports tourism in the Southeast, and we are grateful to ESPN, the Central Alabama Sports Commission and the Chamber for bringing this first ever experience kicking-off the college football season to our city, further propelling the Capital of Dreams to the forefront of the sports world.”

Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton N. Dean, Sr., said, “The Commission is thrilled about the opportunity to once again work with ESPN, the City of Montgomery and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce to spotlight Montgomery County, Alabama, as a sports-loving, supportive community. The matchup between Jacksonville State and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will be an exciting way to kick off the 2017 college football season.”

Participating Team Quotes

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our football program and for our University,” said Greg Seitz, Athletic Director at Jacksonville State University. “The chance to draw a worldwide audience that will be tuned in to watch Jacksonville State kick off the college football season is one we couldn’t pass up. It’s a great opportunity to showcase our program and FCS football to a massive audience. This opportunity enhances what we already thought was a great schedule for our fans next year. Montgomery is right in the middle of a huge recruiting area for us in central Alabama and an easy game for fans to travel to. It allows us a great opportunity to showcase the Gamecocks, the Marching Southerners and our entire University to fans who may not have the opportunity to travel to our campus.”

“UT CHATTANOOGA is thrilled that ESPN has chosen our football team to play Jacksonville State on national television in Montgomery, Alabama, to kick off the college football season,” said David Blackburn, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. “We want to sincerely thank ESPN, Johnny Williams, Executive Director of the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, Greg Seitz, AD at Jacksonville State and the City of Montgomery. We’re grateful for the opportunity to showcase UTC and compete against Jacksonville State on the national platform of ESPN.”

The game is owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN.

ESPN Events 

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 13 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 250-plus hours of programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 700,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.

ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.

Collegiate Football
AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (Houston); Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff (Orlando, Fla.); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Orlando, Fla.); Montgomery Kickoff Classic (Montgomery, Ala.); Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); St. Petersburg Bowl (Florida); The Home Depot College Football Awards (Atlanta) and Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth)

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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.”