Buffalo edges out Georgia Southern in the Camellia Bowl
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Georgia Southern Eagles and Buffalo Bulls met in the ninth annual Camellia Bowl at the historic Cramton Bowl in downtown Montgomery. Buffalo defeated the Eagles 23-21, joining Appalachian State as the only other two-time Camellia Bowl champion.
The trip to Montgomery wasn’t the easiest for the team from Western New York. Buffalo had to change their travel plans in order to beat a winter storm that has been coined by New York governor Kathy Hochul as, “one for the ages.” They arrived in the early morning hours on the 23rd.
The two teams came into the game, both, as former champions of the Camellia Bowl. Buffalo defeated Marshal 17-10 in 2020, and the Eagles defeated Eastern Michigan 23-21 in the 2018 Camellia Bowl.
Defense was the name of the game in the first quarter, with both teams punting away their first three offensive drives.
It wasn’t until the second quarter that points finally showed up on the scoreboard when Georgia Southern capped off a nine-play 65-yard drive with a 23-yard field goal from Alex Raynor. The Bulls answered back quickly, though, scoring the game’s first touchdown. Cole Snyder connected with Justin Marshal for a 32-yard touchdown pass giving the Bulls a 7-3 lead.
On the ensuing drive, the Eagles were able to cut the lead down to one point when Rayner sent a short field goal through the uprights. Buffalo was not finished just yet, though. The Bulls stormed down the field and capped off a 75-yard drive with a Tajay Ahmed five-yard touchdown run.
The two teams enter the half with Buffalo leading Georgia Southern 14-6
Buffalo started the second half with the ball, but Quian Williams fumbled after making a catch, and Anthony Wilson recovered the fumble for the Eagles on their own 21-yard line. It only took one play for Georgia Southern to find the endzone. Kyle Vantrease completed a pass to Joshua Thompson for a 79-yard touchdown. The Eagles opted to go for the two-point conversion and were successful, tying the game up at 14 points.
The Bulls answered back on the next drive with a field goal, taking back the lead.
On the very next drive, Buffalo’s defense came up with a turnover of their own when Jalen McNair recovered a fumble on the Eagle’s 18-yard line. The offense was able to put three more points on the board off the turnover, thanks to another Alex McNulty field goal.
Early in the fourth quarter, Vantrease threw an interception that set Buffalo up for another field goal extending their lead to nine points. The Eagles were not going down easily, though, and answered with an impressive 90-yard touchdown drive making it a two-point game with under four minutes remaining.
However, Buffalo used excellent clock management and was able to run the clock down to zero after getting two important first downs on the game’s final drive.
Justin Marshal, the senior wide receiver for Buffalo, was the MVP of the game. Marshal finished the game with 11 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown.
With the victory over Georgia Southern, the Bulls finished the season with a record of 7-6 and can bring home some joy to a city that is looking for some good news after being hammered by severe winter weather over the holidays.
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