MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Zach Matics still isn't sure what happened on two missed field goal attempts in the first quarter. He just made sure history didn't repeat itself on the final play of the game.
Matics drilled a 23-yarder through the middle of the uprights as time expired to lift Appalachian State to a 31-29 win over Ohio University in front of 21,395 fans at the second Camellia Bowl on Saturday night.
"The first two I missed, they were probably some of the better balls I've ever hit," said Matics, a senior who came into the game 57 of 57 on extra-point attempts this season and 13 of 14 on field goal tries. "They went a little right. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. But my teammates were uplifting the entire game. I wasn't going to miss that last ball left or right, I can tell you that right now.
"I still can't tell you what I did wrong on those first two. Before I picked my head up, I could've sworn they were right down the middle. That last one, I was really focused on keeping my head down a little longer and just drive through it."
The win topped the inaugural game last year when MVP James Knapke threw a last-minute strike to Roger Lewis to lead Bowling Green to a 33-28 win over South Alabama in the annual matchup between the Sun Belt and Mid-American conferences.
This year, Appalachian State won its first-ever bowl game in its first year of Football Bowl Subdivision eligibility, dominating the first quarter before rallying twice in the fourth quarter to improve to 11-2, becoming the first team in history to win 11 games in its first year of bowl eligibility.
"This is a new time and a new era for our program," said Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield, an assistant on the 2007 team that defeated No. 5 Michigan 34-32. "We're in FBS and we did all we could do this year.
"You win 11 games and you go to your first bowl game and you win that, we're obviously going down in history at Appalachian State as one of the better teams that has ever played there."
It didn't look that way for a while. The Mountaineers (11-2) dominated the Bobcats in the first quarter, but because of two misses by Matics, had only a 21-yard touchdown run by Taylor Lamb to show for it.
Ohio (8-5) relied on defense to grab a 17-7 halftime lead, scoring all of their points in a 71-second span. The Bocats, who managed just 43 yards on its first five possessions, drove 45 yards to a 36-yard field goal by Josiah Yazdani on its sixth possession of the first half, then got a little help from the Mountaineers.
On Appalachian State's next play from scrimmage, middle linebacker Quentin Poling made his team-leading fourth interception count by returning Lamb's pass 20 yards for a touchdown to give the Bobcats a 10-7 lead.
Five plays later, center Jesse Chapman snapped the ball to Lamb as if the Appalachian State quarterback was under center when he was in shotgun formation. Ohio defensive tackle Tony Porter recovered the fumble and two plays later running back A.J. Ouellette ran the final 7 yards for a 17-7 halftime lead.
The Mountaineers saw the nightmare continue in the third quarter when Ohio linebacker Jovon Johnson pried the ball out of receiver Ike Lewis' hands and ran 45 yards for a touchdown and a 24-7 lead.
"We were down 17 in the fourth? Wow. That's unbelievable, to come back and win that," Satterfield said. "Really, at halftime, we talked about how we can lay down now and we'll get beat pretty bad or we can fight. Before I could even get the word 'fight' out, our kids were yelling 'fight.' So that's what they did in the second half.
"No matter what circumstances that we faced in the second half, we never quit, we never panicked. In the game of football, momentum's a funny thing. And I think we got that momentum and we just kept going."
Appalachian State rallied quickly, scoring 21 points in less than two minutes as Lamb found tight end Barrett Burns on passes of 17 and 8 yards and running back Marcus Cox added a 26-yard touchdown run on the first play after an interception by defensive back Latrell Gibbs. Suddenly, the Mountaineers led 28-24.
But Jovon Johnson, who pried the ball from receiver Ike Lewis and ran 45 yards with the fumble recovery for a 24-7 lead, came up with the big play again for the Bobcats, stopping Cox for a 3-yard loss in the end zone for a safety. That led to another Yazdani field goal with 1:47 left for a 29-28 Ohio lead.
It wouldn't last. Lamb ran 32 yards to the Ohio 27 and five plays later at the 6, Matics took the field to atone for his earlier misses.
"Obviously, a tough game to lose," Ohio coach Frank Solich said. "It would've been tough for either team. I thought it was two halves in terms of turnovers. They gave us a couple in the first half and we took advantage of those and we gave them a couple in the second half and they took advantage of those."
Cox had his 22nd 100-yard game in the process, setting a bowl record with 162 yards on 24 carries. An injury kept him on the sideline on the final drive, but his performance was enough to merit the Bart Starr Most Valuable Player Trophy.
"The feeling is unreal," Cox said. "It's just an honor and a blessing to be able to win this (MVP) trophy, but without my teammates, my offensive line, my coaches, none of this is even possible."
NOTES: With the Camellia Bowl in just its second year, there were plenty of records, but the one that stood out were the six combined turnovers, with each team committing three that led to 35 points. ... Ohio coach Frank Solich made his 35th bowl appearance as a player, assistant and coach but lost for the second consecutive time after winning in 2011 and 2012. ... Appalachian State QB Taylor Lamb threw his 30th and 31st touchdown passes this season, breaking the school season record of 30 held by two-time FCS player of the year Armanti Edwards. ... Ohio MLB Quentin Poling scored the bowl's first defensive touchdown when he intercepted a Lamb pass and returned it 20 yards with 1:23 left in the second quarter. ... Appalachian State rushed for 303 yards, more than the combined rushing output of Bowling Green and South Alabama (267) in the inaugural game last year. ... Appalachian State became the first team to win a bowl game in its first year of bowl eligibility. Nevada lost the 1992 Las Vegas Bowl to Bowling Green and Marshall lost the 1997 Motor City Bowl to Ole Miss. Georgia Southern can make it 2 for 2 for the Sun Belt against Bowling Green in the GoDaddy Bowl on Dec. 23.