December, 2024 | The Historic Cramton Bowl

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December, 2024


Montgomery, Alabama

2022 Camellia Bowl Notebook

Posted December 28, 2022
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Tajay Ahmed sets career marks for Bulls

It seems to be a pattern for backup Buffalo tailbacks to grab the spotlight in the Camellia Bowl.

Two years after Kevin Marks filled in for the injured Jaret Patterson and earned most valuable player honors with a bowl-record 35 carries, senior Tajay Ahmed ran for 98 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries on Tuesday against Georgia Southern.

Ahmed was a former walk-on whose father played for the Bulls. He earned a scholarship prior to the 2022 spring game, but had only played in seven games this season as a special teams player and only carried the ball once (and only eight times in his career).

He had 10 consecutive rushing attempts on the Bulls’ fourth-quarter FG drive that extended the lead to 23-14 with just over six minutes left.

His performance did not come as a surprise to Buffalo linebacker James Patterson.

“I call him Tiki Barber, the way he runs,” Patterson said. “He runs straight like Tiki. I’m just so glad he got his chance to shine because I know the type of worker than he is. Everybody says he’s a good runner, but I’ve known it because he did scout-team a couple of years before he worked his way up and got a scholarship.”

Clevester Hines makes impression in first defensive start

Clevester Hines III, or Trey, didn’t think he would see much playing time late in the season after fracturing his wrist in late September. But the multi-positional Hines, a quarterback in junior college, a receiver at Buffalo and a cornerback in the Camellia Bowl, was ready for the challenge of taking on the high-powered Georgia Southern offense.

“Right before the bowl game, DBs left, some hit the portal,” Hines said. “Coach walked up to me before one of the practices and said, ‘Hey, you’re going to be with me today.’ I just took the bull by the horns, per se, and just ran with it.”

Hines credited College of San Mateo secondary coach Omari Green with his ability to transition from offense to defense. On Tuesday, Hines was third on the team in tackles and first among the secondary players with seven tackles.

“His first start, he did an amazing job, coming from receiver and being thrown into the fire,” Buffalo linebacker James Patterson said. “You’re going to be burned by the fire or you’re going to turn into a diamond. He’s shining right now.

“You saw how many plays he made on the ball today. He still owes me 20 pushups because he dropped a couple of picks.”

Hines had a team-high three pass breakups, but as Patterson noted, the junior dropped a pair of interceptions, including one which likely would have resulted in a Buffalo touchdown.

“Honestly, I owe a lot of people pushups,” Hines said. “I’m going to have to hear it from my family when I call them on the phone. I’ll probably get a Jugs machine for Christmas.”

Game Notes:

  • Buffalo defeated Georgia Southern 23-21 in the ninth annual Camellia Bowl at the historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery. Georgia Southern and Buffalo are both former Camellia Bowl champions. Georgia Southern defeated Eastern Michigan 23-21 in the 2018 Camellia Bowl. GSU kicker Tyler Bass, who now kicks for the Buffalo Bills, hit the walk-off 40-yard field goal. Buffalo defeated Marshall 17-10 in the 2020 Camellia Bowl.
  • Buffalo and Appalachian State are the only two-time Camellia Bowl champions. Buffalo defeated Marshall in 2020 and Georgia Southern today. Appalachian State posted back-to-back Camellia Bowl wins in 2015 (Ohio) and 2016 (Toledo).
  • Buffalo defeated Georgia Southern 23-21 in another tightly-contested game. In fact, eight of the nine Camellia Bowls have been one-score games. Four of the nine games have been decided by three points or less.
  • For the second time in Camellia Bowl history, the game ended with a 23-21 score. Ironically both games involved Georgia Southern. The Eagles defeated Eastern Michigan 23-21 in 2018 and lost to Buffalo today by the same score.
  • Buffalo wide receiver Justin Marshall was named the Bart Starr Most Valuable Player of the 2022 Camellia Bowl. Marshall caught 11 passes (19 targets) for 127 yards and one TD in the win. He is the second Buffalo player to earn most valuable player honors, joining running back Kevin Marks in 2020.
  • Georgia Southern and Buffalo played a scoreless first quarter today. It was just the second scoreless first quarter in Camellia Bowl history. Buffalo and Marshall also played a scoreless first quarter in 2020.
  • Buffalo led 14-6 at halftime. Teams leading at halftime are now 7-1 at the Camellia Bowl. Appalachian State and Toledo were tied at halftime in 2016. Ohio held a 17-7 halftime lead over Appalachian State in 2015, but lost to the Mountaineers 31-28.
  • Georgia Southern quarterback Kyle Vantrease and wide receiver Joshua Thompson teamed up for the longest touchdown pass in Camellia Bowl history. Vantrease found Thompson on 79-yard TD pass on the Eagles’ first play of the third quarter. The previous record was a 78-yard TD pass from Bowling Green’s James Knapke to Roger Lewis against South Alabama in the 2014 Camellia Bowl.
  • Buffalo punter Anthony Venneri tied the Camellia Bowl record with a 61-yard punt in the third quarter. He tied the record previously set by Arkansas State’s Cody Grace (2017) and tied by Marshall’s Robert Lefevre (2020).

Final Score:                          Buffalo 23, Georgia Southern 21

Attendance:                       15,232

Pregame Weather:           Sunny skies; 54 degrees; WIND: ESE 3 mph

GSU Captains:                    Jeremy Singleton, Kyle Vantrease, Justin Ellis and Dillon Springer

Buffalo Captains:               Marcus Fuqua, Robbie Mangas, Shaun Dolac and Gabe Wallace

Coin Toss:                            GSU won the toss and received the opening kickoff

Game MVP:                         Buffalo WR Justin Marshall


  • Here are the game-by-game scores of the Camellia Bowl

Date                       Result                                                                    Attendance         TV

Dec. 20, 2014      Bowling Green 33, South Alabama 28          20,256                   ESPN

Dec. 19, 2015      Appalachian State 31, Ohio 29                        21,395                   ESPN

Dec. 17, 2016      Appalachian State 31, Toledo 28                    20,300                   ESPN

Dec. 16, 2017      Middle Tennessee 35, Arkansas St. 30         20,612                   ESPN

Dec. 15, 2018      Georgia Southern 23, E. Michigan 21           17,710                   ESPN

Dec. 21, 2019      Arkansas St. 34, FIU 26                                     16,209                   ESPN

Dec. 25, 2020      Buffalo 17, Marshall 10                                    2,512 (Covid)       ESPN

Dec. 25, 2021      Georgia State 51, Ball State 20                      7,345                     ESPN

Dec. 27, 2022      Buffalo 23, Georgia Southern 21                    15,232                   ESPN