One of only four squads to make a bowl game in its first full-fledged FBS campaign, Appalachian headed to the 2015 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama on December 20. Named after Alabama’s state flower, the Camellia Bowl pitted the Sun Belt Conference’s Appalachian State University Mountaineers against the Mid-American Conference’s Ohio University Bobcats. The Camellia Bowl is one of 13 postseason bowl games owned and operated by ESPN Events. The bowl’s mission is to provide a memorable experience for student athletes, coaches, administration and fans that positively showcases the history, diversity and revitalization of Montgomery, Alabama.
Hosted in the riverside city of Montgomery, Alabama, the athletic battle took place in one of the country’s most historic facilities, the Cramton Bowl. The facility holds the distinction of being home to the South’s first football game under the lights. The 1927 game featured Cloverdale vs. Pike Road High School and drew more than 7,000 spectators. In addition to football, the bowl has been home to both major and minor league baseball. With big smiles and warm Southern greetings, the people of Montgomery welcomed fans to their historic home. The city, pivotal in the United States’ Civil Rights Movement, engaged visitors through offerings like the Rosa Parks Museum and the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, sites like Old Alabama Town, and a vibrant blend of historical and modern architecture. The shops and eateries of downtown Montgomery buzzed with excitement as fans showed their pride and greeted each other with the often-heard “Go Apps!” Nestled along the river, the Union Station Train Shed was the perfect spot for Friday evening’s Pep Rally. App fans also tried their luck at a few games and picked up souvenirs, all while soaking in the atmosphere of this National Historic Landmark.
Appalachian set a new record for victories by a team in its first season as a full-fledged member of NCAA Division I FBS after transitioning from Division I FCS, and the first team to win a bowl game in its initial season as a full-fledged FBS squad.
Fans showed up in big numbers to support their Mountaineers and celebrate a bowl invitation in Appalachian’s first year of FBS bowl eligibility. The streets of Montgomery were filled with black and gold.
Fans showed up in big numbers to support their Mountaineers and celebrate a bowl invitation in Appalachian’s first year of FBS bowl eligibility. The streets of Montgomery were filled with black and gold as fans explored downtown. Spontaneous cheers and high fives abounded as old friends reunited and new friends were made. While excitement about the game was at a fever pitch, it was clear that a deep love and pride for Appalachian and the transformational role it has played in so many lives gave roots to the excitement. Fans cheered and swayed as the Marching Mountaineers broke into two groups and provided impromptu performances on the sidewalks of downtown. During the days leading up to the game, fans offered words of encouragement and support to players as they met them on the street, in the elevators and at pre-game events. At the pep rally, fans shouted wildly in the affirmative when asked if they would be the 12th man. They kept this promise in great form and proved their pride, loyalty and love of their Mountaineers. Appalachian’s final record of 11-2 is its best since it finished 13-2 and won its third-straight FCS national championship in 2007.
With its 11th victory of the season, Appalachian State broke a tie with Middle Tennessee (10-3 in 2009) and Arkansas State (10-3 in 2011 and 2012) for the winningest season in Sun Belt history. Appalachian also broke a tie with Marshall (10-3 in 1997) for the winningest season by a team in its first season as a full-fledged FBS member.
Fans began arriving at the Cramton Bowl early and shared great conversation about the season and the game ahead as they basked in the warm sun on the Appalachian side of the bowl. The Ohio University band and North Carolina’s Band of Distinction, the Marching Mountaineers, provided fans with great pre-game performances and would take the field again at half-time to wow the fans. As the sun set, the crowd cheered as their Mountaineers took the field and the crowd continued to offer its loud and energetic support throughout the evening. Even as the Mountaineers regrouped from a tough third quarter, fans held fast, shouting words of encouragement, and players dug deep and kept their heads in the game. Scoring 24 points in the fourth quarter, including a 23-yard field goal on the final play of the game, the Mountaineers kept fans on their feet and brought home a 31-29 victory, the Camelia Bowl trophy, the honor of being the first team in the nation to win 11 games in their first year of eligibility and a lot of Appalachian pride. Appalachian now holds its best record (11-2) since 2007, when it won its third-straight FCS national championship.
Appalachian moved to 29-23 all-time in postseason games and snapped a three-game postseason losing streak. When playing in the state of Alabama, App State won for the seventh-straight time.
At homes and public events, fans gathered to cheer on their Mountaineers. They were in for quite a show - with amazing plays, turnovers and a last play field goal attempt all ending in a Mountaineer victory over the Bobcats. While it was a wild ride for fans and players alike, it made for great television and ultimately brought home a record-setting win for Appalachian. With its 11th victory of the season, Appalachian State broke a tie with Middle Tennessee (10-3 in 2009) and Arkansas State (10-3 in 2011 and 2012) for the winningest season in Sun Belt history. Appalachian also broke a tie with Marshall (10-3 in 1997) for the winningest season by a team in its first season as a full-fledged FBS member.
Other Media Coverage:
Matt Lauer congratulates App on the Today Show (check out his flawless pronunciation!)
Watch David Jackson, Avery Hall, Randy Jackson, and Lanny Ford break down the 2015 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl from the Union Station Trans Shed in Montgomery.
Social Media Mentions
How to properly execute game-winning FG: • Make FG • Remove and throw helmet to celebrate pic.twitter.com/xdhG43Onms— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) December 20, 2015
The two sides to a game-winning FG. https://t.co/HWUVmRBkNu— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) December 20, 2015
App State! pic.twitter.com/EJeQGlf91W— mamafilbs (@Lbexpat) December 20, 2015
Created by: Dave Blanks, Wes Craig, Garrett Ford, Hank Foreman, Marie Freeman, Chris Grulke, Megan Hayes, Pete Montaldi, Troy Tuttle and Alex Waterworth.