MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Taylor Lamb didn't slide once he picked up a first down on the third-and-long quarterback draw.
He absorbed a violent hit, quickly regained his footing and gestured toward a section of fired-up Appalachian State fans.
Lamb's effort and intensity in an MVP performance set a strong tone for the Mountaineers, who never trailed in a 31-28 victory against Toledo in the Camellia Bowl on Saturday night. The junior quarterback accounted for two touchdowns, throwing for 119 yards and rushing for a career-high 126 yards on only nine carries, including the 31-yard sprint that stood out to coach Scott Satterfield.
"He's one tough cookie," Satterfield said. "He got hit hard tonight several times, and I loved when he broke off the big run and jumped right back up and got our crowd going. That kind of stuff right there is what 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. That's the toughness we have, and this guy right here is as tough as all of them."
In winning an MVP award named after Montgomery native and former Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr, Lamb joined the company of App State running back Marcus Cox, the 2015 recipient.
Cox rushed for 143 yards on 22 attempts Saturday, but Toledo limited Sun Belt Conference offensive player of the year Jalin Moore to 35 yards on 16 carries. With the Rockets' defense focused on slowing down Moore and Cox, Lamb was able to make the right decisions on plays in which he could hand the ball off or keep it.
He recorded the second 100-yard rushing game of his career, topping the 103 yards he posted against Louisiana-Monroe as a sophomore.
"They were really keying on Marcus, really keying on Jalin," Lamb said. "It just opened it up. They kind of forgot about me. I think I made the right reads, and the offensive line played great."
Lamb had rushes of 28, 21 and 28 yards before App State faced a fourth-and-1 scenario from Toledo's 13 midway through the third quarter. He faked an inside handoff to Cox and had no defender nearby as he ran around the left side for a touchdown.
Lamb gained the 31 yards on a third-and-7 play early in the fourth quarter, and his 10-yard keeper in a third-and-11 situation put the Mountaineers in range for Michael Rubino's 39-yard field goal that broke the final tie with 5:14 remaining against their MAC opponent.
"In that league, there's not many offenses that run the quarterback, which we do, and Taylor is a very effective runner," Satterfield said. "I didn't know he'd have this much success."
Lamb laughed when asked why he chooses not to slide on his quarterback runs.
“I don’t like sliding,” he said. “You can get more yards when you’re going forward. Sliding, you’re kind of going backwards.”