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Champs > Chumps

Photo by Mike Kittrell/

The deed done and the outcome settled, App State senior QB trotted off the field for the final time in a Black & Gold Yellow. It was a well-earned curtain call on his Mountaineer career as he piloted App to a dominant 34-0 Dollar General Bowl victory over hapless, sloppy and embarrassingly disinterested Toledo.

As he relinquished control over his offense – to Zac Thomas on Saturday night and to a QB-to-be-named-later next season – Lamb did something completely out of character. No. 11 discarded the helmet he no longer needed, and fetched a white sign hidden on the Mountaineer sideline.

“Fun Belt > MACtion,” it appeared to read, the Ladd-Peebles Stadium lights reflecting off the white poster board and distorting the black writing a bit for this blogger to clearly make out on his aging HD screen. Other App State seniors took turns hoisting another one declaring – clears throat – App State’s acquisition of the Mid-American Conference.

“We Own the MAC,” the second sign seemed to say. To quote the late, great Dick Enberg: “Oh my…”

As surprising as it was to see Lamb’s rare display of moxie and taunting – and as much as we fear those images will serve as motivation for the opposing locker room the next time App gets some #MACtion – it’s hard to blame QB1 for letting us know what he really thinks.

To be sure, the Mountaineers took the deed to the MAC from its champion* by flat beating up the Rockets for four quarters and stealing their girlfriends. App State was more physical, more intense, more focused and (vastly) more prepared.

(* – We used the word “champion” very, very, VERY lightly, folks. The Rockets certainly didn’t play like the undisputed champs of what is a solid Group of 5 football league. And, by all appearances, they didn’t take the entire thing very seriously. Embarrassing stuff.)

Offense. Defense. Special Teams. Coaching.

This one felt more like a September beatdown of the Big South’s champion than what it should have been: A bona fide Group of Five postseason power noncon pitting two conference champs and two of the G5’s most successful, storied and nationally known programs. Thanks for ruining it, Rockets. 

What we got instead – thanks to Lamb, Jalin Moore, the OL and a swarming ASU defense, as well as the Rockets’ failure to launch – was Champs vs. Chumps.

/We’re looking at you, @ToledoBarstool. The head chump. A chump’s chump. Free Advice to you and Rocket Nation: Consider the specific bear you’re poking next time before you poke said bear. Focus more on the pummeled carcasses said bear left behind recently, not a few bad days that bear had months ago…/

The departing – that hurts to type – App seniors earned the right to declare ownership of a conference to which they never lost, including three postseason clashes. (Though, sure, we cringed a wee bit when the signs came out…) After all, they’ve been there through what we’re going to go ahead and declare the most successful FCS-to-FBS transition ever. Many started multiple seasons. All will be missed.

So, f*ck it: We own the f*cking MAC. Don’t like it? Come to The Rock and do something about it. Yeah, we didn’t think so…

/Throws Santa hat across the room in a celebratory moment fueled by Christmas Eve ale, remembering the ‘Neers also own even more FB$ hardware/

…Mountaineer Nation no doubt enjoyed this one Saturday night in Mobile. And we know that Black & Gold (fine, it can be gold today, the color of champions) charter flight – carrying Lamb the seniors home one last time – was a joyous journey.

We’ll watch the highlights on YouTube all winter, spring and summer. Some of us won’t deleted the ESPN broadcast from our DVRs, many will watch the game again. Just once or twice…

…Soon, the Mountaineers will be back on the turf at The Rock. A QB battle with faces we know and perhaps a fresh one or two is ahead. Lamb will give up the QB1 title, and likely get a new one soon: “Coach.” New faces will inherit that dominant right side of the App State OL and middle of the defense.

But, until then, we shall relish what became a truly special season. 9-4 never looked so good, never felt so sweet. As far as this blogger is concerned, that unacceptable night in Amherst, Mass., never happened – neither did the One That Got Away in Monroe, La., the next Saturday. Wait, we’re glad – in a twist we didn’t expect until some Christmas Eve travel offered time for a little reflection – those two dark weeks happened.

Why? Because the young men in Black & Gold learned, and reminded the rest of us, that when bad things happen, what matters is how you respond. And these Mountaineers responded by winning their next four by an average of 31 points, giving up no more than 14 in any of those closing contests.

/Pumps fists, thinking back to that dominAnt run…/

As a new season approaches, we’ll even let the MAC have ownership of its football league back, with plenty of face from Saturday night needing to be saved. There are new goals ahead, starting spots to be earned and legacies to burnish. We salute the App seniors for rescuing the program from some unexpected dark days and making it the sixth-winning in the country over the last 44 games.

For now, it seems fitting to leave you all with a (very) short App State-inspired Christmas poem. It’s time for the annual postseason detox after a season of craft brews.

/Pours a handsome glass of red wine…/

C’mon, what else did you expect? Bowl champs again, and now onto the rhymes:

On Satt, on Moore, on Duck

Toledo can talk sh*t, but we no longer give a f*ck

So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all

We can’t wait ‘til next Fall…


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