Bowls: Buffalo Hangs on to Beat Georgia Southern 23-21 in the Camellia Bowl

By Marc Gignac

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (SportsDay)  – Justin Marshall caught 11 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown, and Alex McNulty kicked three second-half field goals to lead Buffalo to a 23-21 victory over Georgia Southern in the Camellia Bowl in the Historic Cramton Bowl Tuesday afternoon.

Georgia Southern trimmed a nine-point deficit to two with 3:38 remaining and had all three timeouts left. The Eagles forced the Bulls into 3rd-and-7, but Cory Snyder connected with Marshall for a 9-yard pass play to keep the drive going. The Eagles then forced Buffalo into 3rd-and-3 with 1:47 to play, but Bull running back Tajay Ahmed moved the pile for four yards and a first down to seal the win. The Bulls (7-6) converted 12 of 19 third downs in the contest.

Vantrease completed 28 passes for 352 yards and two touchdowns, and Beau Johnson caught five passes for 118 yards. OJ Arnold ran for 68 yards, and Alex Raynor made two field goals. Khadry Jackson led the Eagle defense with 13 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and a pass breakup.

Trailing 23-14 with six minutes to play, the Eagles converted a 4th-and-7 when Vantrease found Johnson for a 42-yard pickup to keep the drive alive. Four plays later, Vantrease hit Jjay Mcafee for 13-yard touchdown pass to trim the deficit to two points with 3:38 remaining.

The Eagles (6-7) trailed 14-6 at halftime but forced the game’s first turnover on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Snyder hooked up with Quian Williams on a 35-yard pass but Eagle defensive back Chase Dial-Watson stayed with the play and connected on a big hit from behind to jar the ball loose, sending it rolling down the right sideline where Anthony Wilson dove on it.

The Eagles went up top on the next play, and Vantrease found Joshua Thompson for a 79-yard touchdown pass. GS went for the two-point conversion, and Vantrease faked a handoff rolled to his right and threw a bullet to Mcafee to tie the score 14-14.

Buffalo (6-6) came back with a 60-yard drive, capped by a 33-yard field goal by McNulty. The Bulls added another 24-yard McNulty field goal after recovering a Georgia Southern fumble at the Eagle 18-yard line.

McNulty made it a nine-point game on a 20-yard field goal with 8:38 remaining following Georgia Southern’s second turnover of the game. Vantrease was picked off by Dylan Powell who returned the interception to the Eagle 40-yard line. The Bulls drove down to the GS 1-yard line but Ahmed was stopped for a loss by Wilson and Kierron Smith on 3rd-and-goal, and Buffalo settled for the field goal.

Buffalo scored two touchdowns in the final eight minutes of the second quarter to open a 14-6 cushion at halftime. Snyder connected with Marshall for a 32-yard touchdown pass with 7:46 remaining, and Ahmed scored on a 5-yard run with 46 seconds left.

The Eagles had 1st-and-goal to go situations on two occasions in the first half but came away with Raynor field goals (23, 21) each time.

GSU Bowls Notes: It was Georgia Southern’s fifth bowl game since moving up from the FCS in 2014, and the Eagles are 3-2…Nine of the 10 Camellia Bowls have been decided by one possession, and Georgia Southern has been involved in two of them, picking up a win (23-21 over Eastern Michigan in 2018) and a loss…Georgia Southern outgained Buffalo 444-387, but the Bulls held the ball for 16 minutes more than the Eagles….Vantrease became the 21st quarterback to start a bowl game for two different teams. He spent five years at Buffalo and threw for 4,755 yards and 25 touchdowns in leading the Bulls to the 2020 MAC Championship Game and then a win in the Camellia Bowl….It was Georgia Southern head coach Clay Helton’s sixth bowl game as a head coach.


Previous Article

Golf: Remembering Kathy Whitworth, the Game’s Greatest Winner

Next Article

NFL Notes: Jaguars at Houston, More on Dolphins at Patriots and Bucs Against Panthers

You might be interested in …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *