December 23, 2023 | The Historic Cramton Bowl

Glance background 1
Team 1 Logo
Team 2 Logo
Glance background 2

December 23, 2023

12:00 pm ET/11:00 am CT on ESPN

Montgomery, Alabama




December 5, 2023

Dr. James Andrews to Receive Alabama Football Legend Award

MONTGOMERY - Dr. James Andrews, world-renown orthopedic surgeon and iconic sports figure, will be the recipient of the 2023 Alabama Football Legend award, presented by Regions Bank, in conjunction with the Camellia Bowl.

Dr. Andrews will receive the award at the Alabama Football Legend luncheon, on Friday, Dec. 22 at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Montgomery.

“Early on when in practice with Dr. Hughston, I began taking care of teams and athletes in Alabama and I was so impressed with the high-level of talent in Alabama’s elite athletes,” Dr. Andrews said. “I developed a genuine passion to use my talents in orthopedics and sports medicine to help athletes across the state to be able to achieve their dreams in sports through prevention of injuries and injury recovery. I am deeply honored to be able to accept the Alabama Football Legend Award, presented by Regions Bank.”

Andrews’ areas of special interest include sports medicine, knee injuries, arthroscopy, and shoulder and elbow injuries in throwing athletes.

“We are pleased and honored to recognize the career and accomplishments of Dr. Andrews, one the most recognizable figures, not only in our state, but the entire sports world,” Johnny Williams, the Executive Director of the Camellia Bowl, said.

The list of Andrews’ patients is a virtual who’s who in the sports world. Some of his more notable patients include Bo Jackson, Charles Barkley, Roger Clemens, Jack Nickalus, Michael Jordan, Drew Brees, John Smoltz, Triple H, Brett Favre, Marcus Lattimore and Adrian Petersen.

Dr. Andrews founded Andrews Sports Medicine in Birmingham, and he also has served as the Chairman of the Board and Medical Director of the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) in Birmingham since 1986.

Dr. Andrews also founded the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Fla., and he also served as the President and Chairman of the Board at Andrews Research and Education Foundation in Gulf Breeze since 2005.

Andrews has also served as the Orthopedist for Auburn University, The University of Alabama, and Tuskegee University.

He served in the same capacity for the Washington Commanders, Tampa Rays and the LPGA.

Andrews was also a part of 2008 USOC Olympic delegation in Beijing, China.

He has had numerous appointments on national committees, academic appointments, editorial boards.

He has also received numerous awards and honors for his orthopedic work and community service.

Dr. Andrews earned his bachelor’s degree and attended medical school at LSU. He won the SEC championship in pole vaulting as a member of Tigers Track and Field team.

He completed his residency at Tulane School of Medicine, including a one-year rotation with the legendary Dr. Jack Hughston in Columbus, Ga.

He had two fellowships at the University of De Lyon in France and the University of Virginia.

At De Lyon, he was tutored by Dr. Albert Trillat in knee surgery and athletic injuries.

At Virginia, he studied hand surgery and athletic medicine under Dr. Frank C. McCue, III, the team physician for the University of Virginia.

December 3, 2023

Arkansas State-Northern Illinois Meet in 10th Annual Camellia Bowl

MONTGOMERY – The matchup is set for the 10th annual Camellia Bowl. The Arkansas State Red Wolves and Northern Illinois Huskies will meet on Saturday, Dec. 23 at 11 a.m. CT (Noon ET) at the historic Cramton Bowl in downtown Montgomery. The game will be televised on ESPN, and simulcast on ESPN+.

Arkansas State (6-6, 4-4 Sun Belt) scored a Sun Belt Conference record 77 points in a win over Texas State on Nov. 18. The Red Wolves scored seven rushing touchdowns, three defensive touchdowns and added one kickoff return for the touchdown in the win. The 77 points were the third-most points scored by an FBS team in 2023. Overall, ASU topped the 30-point mark five times this season.

Head coach Butch Jones is in his third season with the Red Wolves. He has compiled a 92-70 record in 12 seasons at Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Tennessee and Arkansas State. Prior to taking the job at ASU, Jones spent three seasons on Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama as an Offensive Analyst (2018-19) and Special Assistant to the Head Coach (2020).

Northern Illinois (6-6, 5-3 Mid-American Conference) brings the FBS’ sixth-ranked passing defense (163.9 pass yards per game) to Montgomery and the 11th best in pass efficiency defense (114.4). NIU opened the season with a 27-24 overtime win at Boston College. It was their second straight year with a win over an ACC team. NIU opened the 2022 season with a 22-21 win at Georgia Tech.

Head coach Thomas Hammock has compiled a 23-33 record in five seasons at his alma mater. He guided the Huskies to a 9-5 record and a berth in the 2021 MAC Championship Game. Hammock played tailback for the Huskies from 1999-2002. He was the school’s running backs coach in 2005-06. He has also been an assistant coach at Minnesota and Wisconsin, and in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens.

Arkansas State Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Jeff Purinton and Northern Illinois Vice President/Athletics Director and Recreation Shawn T. Frazier both have ties to Alabama. Purinton spent 15 years at the UA Athletic Administration, including the school’s Deputy Athletics Director from 2019-21. Frazier played football for the Crimson Tide from 1987-91 and was a member of the 1989 SEC Championship team. He earned his bachelor’s degree in public relations from UA.

Arkansas State will be playing in its 18th all-time bowl game, dating back to its inaugural bowl appearance in the 1951 Refrigerator Bowl in Evansville, Ind. ASU is 8-9 all-time in post season bowl games. The Red Wolves are making their third appearance at the Camellia Bowl, splitting the previous two games. Middle Tennessee defeated Arkansas State 35-30 in the 2017 Camellia Bowl. Arkansas State defeated Florida International 34-26 in the 2019 Camellia Bowl. Arkansas State also played in four straight GoDaddy Bowls in Mobile from 2012-15.

Northern Illinois is making its 15th all-time bowl appearance, dating back to its 20-0 win over Cal State Fullerton in the 1983 California Bowl. NIU cracked the BCS rankings and faced Florida State in the 2013 Orange Bowl, falling to the Seminoles 31-10. NIU is 4-10 all-time in bowl play.

Northern Illinois posted a 19-16 win over No. 21 Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 20, 2003. Michel Turner, who played with the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL, ran the ball 21 times for 157 yards to lead the upset over the Crimson Tide.

The 2023 Camellia Bowl will mark the second time Arkansas State and Northern Illinois have met in a bowl game. NIU defeated ASU 38-20 in the 2012 GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile. The Huskies erased a 13-0 deficit to post the 18-point comeback win. NIU wide receiver Martel Moore caught eight passes for 224 yards and one TD. Dechan Durante capped the scoring with a 36-yard “Pick 6” for the Huskies. ASU quarterback Ryan Alpin completed 30-of-58 passes for 353 yards and one TD. His favorite target was Taylor Stockemer, who set ASU bowl records with 11 catches for 185 yards and one TD.


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

The Camellia Bowl is one of 17 college football bowl games owned and operated by ESPN Events.

ESPN Events 

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a portfolio of collegiate sporting events nationwide. In 2023, the 33-event schedule includes four early-season college football kickoff games, 17 college bowl games, nine college basketball events, a college softball event and the inaugural Band of the Year National Championship, in addition to a new college gymnastics event coming in 2024. Collectively, these events account for over 400 hours of live programming on ESPN platforms, while reaching 60 million viewers and attracting more than 650,000 annual attendees. Each year, the portfolio of events features more than 20 Division I conferences and hosts over 4,000 participating student-athletes. With satellite offices in more than 10 cities across the country, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.

For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, X/Twitter or YouTube pages.

May 31, 2023

10th Annual Camellia Bowl Set for December 23

MONTGOMERY - The 10th annual Camellia Bowl will be played on Saturday, Dec. 23 at 11 a.m. CT (noon ET) at the historic Cramton Bowl in downtown Montgomery. The bowl will air on ESPN and feature teams from the Sun Belt Conference, the Mid-American Conference or Conference USA. “We’re thrilled to be celebrating the Camellia Bowl’s 10th anniversary this year,” said executive director Johnny Williams. “We’ve enjoyed successful decade-long relationships with both ESPN and the Bowl Season while featuring many exciting games. We look forward to continuing that tradition as we welcome two accomplished programs and their passionate fanbases to Montgomery in December.” Eight of the first nine games have been decided by eight points or less, including the inaugural Camellia Bowl in 2014 when Bowling Green defeated South Alabama 33-28. Last year, Buffalo became the first repeat winner of the bowl with a 23-21 win over Georgia Southern. The Camellia Bowl is one of 17 college football bowl games owned and operated by ESPN Events. College Football Kickoff Games Return to Montgomery in 2023 In addition to the postseason Camellia Bowl, Montgomery will host two preseason kickoff games this season. North Alabama will meet Mercer in the 9th FCS Kickoff on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 2:30 p.m. CT on ESPN - the sixth FCS Kickoff game played at historic Cramton Bowl. Also, Tuskegee and Fort Valley State will square off in the third annual Boeing Red Tails Classic on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. CT on ESPNU. Fort Valley State has defeated Tuskegee in the previous two games, which was created with ESPN Events in 2021 to honor the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.

  CAMELLIA BOWL ALL-TIME RESULTS: Date                     Result                                                  Dec. 20, 2014      Bowling Green 33, South Alabama 28 Dec. 19, 2015      Appalachian State 31, Ohio 29 Dec. 17, 2016      Appalachian State 31, Toledo 28 Dec. 16, 2017      Middle Tennessee 35, Arkansas St. 30 Dec. 15, 2018      Georgia Southern 23, E. Michigan 21 Dec. 21, 2019      Arkansas St. 34, FIU 26 Dec. 25, 2020      Buffalo 17, Marshall 10 Dec. 25, 2021      Georgia State 51, Ball State 20 Dec. 27, 2022      Buffalo 23, Georgia Southern 21   FCS KICKOFF ALL-TIME RESULTS: Date                     Result  Aug. 23, 2014      Eastern Washington 56, Sam Houston State 35 (Cheney, Washington) Aug, 29, 2015      Montana State 38, North Dakota State 35 (Missoula, Montana) Aug. 27, 2016      North Dakota State 24, Charleston Southern 17 (Fargo, ND) Aug, 26, 2017      Jacksonville State 27, Chattanooga 13 (Montgomery) Aug. 25, 2018      North Carolina A&T 20, Jacksonville State 17 (Montgomery) Aug. 26, 2019      Youngstown State 45, Samford 20 (Montgomery) Aug. 29, 2020      Central Arkansas 24, Austin Peay 17 (Montgomery) Aug. 27, 2022      Jacksonville State 42, Stephen F. Austin 17 (Montgomery)   BOEING RED TAIL CLASSIC RESULTS: Date                     Result  Sept. 5, 2021       Fort Valley State 30, Tuskegee 0 Sept. 4, 2022       Fort Valley State 21, Tuskegee 6   About ESPN Events ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a portfolio of collegiate sporting events nationwide. In 2023, the 32-event schedule includes four early-season college football kickoff games, 17 college bowl games, nine college basketball events, and a college softball event, in addition to a new a college gymnastics event coming in 2024. Collectively, these events account for over 400 hours of live programming on ESPN platforms, while reaching 60 million viewers and attracting more than 650,000 annual attendees. Each year, the portfolio of events features more than 20 Division I conferences and hosts over 4,000 participating student-athletes. With satellite offices in more than 10 cities across the country, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.   For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.
December 28, 2022

Buffalo Controls Clock; Georgia Southern in Camellia Bowl Win

MONTGOMERY – Buffalo led the Mid-American Conference in time of possession this season. So it was no surprise the Bulls turned to their ball-control offense to secure a 23-21 win over Georgia Southern in the ninth annual Camellia Bowl at historic Cramton Bowl.

Buffalo (7-6) made it a two-score game in the fourth quarter with a methodical 10-play drive – all runs by backup running back Tajay Ahmed - to extend its lead to 23-14 with 8:38 left in the game. Ahmed ran for 39 yard and set up MAC Special Teams Player of the Year Alex McNulty with a 20-yard field goal to push the lead to nine points.

Georgia Southern (6-7) responded with a 13-play, 90-yard drive to cut the lead to 23-21. GSU quarterback Kyle Vantrease, who played three seasons at Buffalo, completed 7-of-9 passes for 72 yards and one touchdown on the drive.

Buffalo hc maurice linguist

Vantrease hit tight end Beau Johnson with a 42-yard strike on fourth-and-seven to give the Eagles a first down at the Bulls 19-yard line.  Four plays later, Vantrease hit a wide-open Jjay Mcafee with a 13-yard touchdown pass.

After the GSU score, Buffalo had one mission and that was to chew up the final 3:38 off the clock.

Ahmed ran for only three yards on the first two plays and the Eagles used two timeouts.

On third down and eight from the Buffalo 28-yard line, quarterback Cole Snyder, a transfer from Rutgers who took over for Vantrease, hit senior Justin Marshall with an 8-yard completion to move the chains.

Ahmed then ran for three yards, four yards and added another 4-yard run to clinch the game.

He finished with 27 carries for 97 yards and one touchdown.

“And all we do is churn out the clock,” Buffalo head coach Maurice Linguist said. ‘We led the Mid-American Conference in time of possession. That’s a stat that nobody loves any more (but) we love it. We love time of possession. That’s a forgotten stat with everybody else. We know how to play tough, we know how to play disciplined; we know how to take care of the ball.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Georgia Southern got on the board first with Alex Raynor’s 23-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead.

Buffalo came right back with an 81-yard touchdown drive, capped by Snyder’s 32-yard touchdown pass to Marshall to give the Bulls a 7-3 lead.

Marshall caught two passes on the drive for 48 yards and was the favorite target of Snyder all day long. Marshall was targeted 19 times and finished with 11 catches for 127 yards and one score.  He was awarded the Bart Starr MVP Trophy after the game.

“Oh my goodness, what a great player,” Georgia Southern head coach Clay Helton said. “We mixed up enough coverages to try and slow them down and I thought (defensive coordinator) Will (Harris) did a nice job. We went into the game saying, hey, let’s stop the run, let’s make the quarterback beat us.

‘What a special receiver. You could tell -- I don’t know how many times he was targeted, it had to be over 20, it felt like over 20 -- he is a very, very strong-handed catch player. When it was time to make plays, 12 for 19 (on third down), I don’t know how many of the 12 (third-down conversions) he made, but it felt like most of them was him.”

Georgia Southern marched into the red zone on its next possession, but again settled for 21-yard field goal by Raynor to make it 7-6.

Again, Buffalo answered with a touchdown drive as Ahmed scored on a 5-yard run to give the Bulls a 14-6 halftime lead.

The Bulls fumbled on their first snap of the third quarter after a 35-yard completion to the GSU 21-yard line.

The Eagles struck quickly with a Camellia Bowl record 79-yard TD pass from Vantrease to Joshua Thompson to cut the deficit to 14-12. Vantrease’s subsequent two-point pass knotted the score at 14-14.

After the game-tying score by the Eagles, Buffalo turned to its ball control offense. The Bulls drove 60 yards in 13 plays on its next possession, capped by McNulty’s 32-yard field goal to put the Bulls back in front 17-14.

Buffalo recovered a fumble on the first play after the kickoff at the GSU 19. The Bulls had first-and-goal at the six before McNulty hit a 23-yard field goal to make it 20-14.

“It wasn’t so much what they did, but it was about us,” Vantrease said. “We shot ourselves in the foot. We struggled in the red zone and we had two turnovers.’

December 28, 2022

Marshall Takes Home MVP Honors

By Tim Gayle - The goal for Georgia Southern’s defense was to make the Buffalo offense one dimensional in Tuesday’s Camellia Bowl matchup at Cramton Bowl.

“We mixed up enough coverages to try and slow them down and I thought (defensive coordinator) Will (Harris) did a nice job,” Georgia Southern coach Clay Helton said. “We went into the game saying, hey, let’s stop the run, let’s make the quarterback beat us.”

The Eagles were able to force Buffalo’s offense into several uncomfortable third-down situations, but the Bulls responded time and again with receptions by their receivers, particularly Justin Marshall.

Camellia bowl mvp justin marshall

“What a special receiver,” Helton said. “You could tell -- I don’t know how many times he was targeted, it had to be over 20, it felt like over 20 -- he is a very, very strong-handed player. When it was time to make plays, 12 for 19 (on third down), I don’t know how many of the 12 (third-down conversions) he made, but it felt like most of them was him.”

Marshall made six of the third-down conversions, with eight of his 11 receptions going for first downs in the Bulls’ 23-21 win over Georgia Southern on Tuesday.

“I pride myself in being consistent and putting it all on the line for my teammates when it’s time to do so,” Marshall said. “Being an elite receiver, I’ve got to make a third-down catch, I have to put my team in position to score, to continue the drive.”

He saved his best for last, winning the Bart Starr Most Valuable Player Award after recording 11 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown, the best individual performance for a receiver who spent his first five years at Louisville before transferring in January to Buffalo.

Marshall started 22 games in his last two years at Louisville, but decided after the 2021 season he wanted a change of scenery.

“When I was in the transfer portal, I was looking for an opportunity to revamp myself,” Marshall said. “Just kind of rebrand myself as a player and show that I can play anywhere against anybody. I was living in a situation that wasn’t the best situation for me, but I learned a lot of different things on the journey. I get here in Buffalo, I didn’t know what to expect at first. It was very, very cold, most snow I’ve ever seen in my life by far. But through the process of the journey I met brothers … on our team that helped me through the process. They’ve been there for me, no matter what.”

And while he’s pulled in 53 receptions for 710 yards and eight touchdowns this season, there was nothing to indicate he would be the star of the 2022 bowl game. He had more than five receptions just four times this season and only went over the century mark in receiving once.

On Tuesday, six of his first seven catches went for first downs and his 32-yard catch from Cole Snyder in the corner of the end zone gave Buffalo its first touchdown of the game. His last catch, a third-and-seven grab along the sidelines, helped Buffalo maintain possession and run out the clock, once officials were able to use replay to confirm the catch.

“We looked at it (on the video board) one time,” Marshall said, “and I was, ‘that’s definitely a catch, we’re wasting time reviewing it, we’re just running off TV time now.’”

His 127 yards is the fifth highest total in bowl history and his 11 receptions trails only Ball State’s Jayshon Jackson, who had 12 last year. Not a bad performance for the former Newton High standout in Conyers, Ga., who had 17 friends and family members make the trek to Montgomery to watch him play.

“It was definitely a great way to end my college career,” he said. “It was a blessing to be close enough to home for everybody to travel here safety.”

Marshall joins Arkansas State receiver Omar Bayless (2019) as the only receivers to ever win the Bart Starr trophy in the nine-year history of the bowl. After he game, he was asked if Tuesday’s game was the best of his career.

“In my opinion, yeah,” he said. “The fact that we won and I was able to give some of my younger teammates the experience of a bowl game and what goes with it -- the process of every day throughout the season, offseason, everything, to have these moments to hold the trophy over our head. There’s so much more that goes into that than just the moments that we see here.”

[caption id="attachment_3284" align="alignnone" width="300"]Mvp justin marshall6 Mvp justin marshall6[/caption] [caption id="attachment_3285" align="alignnone" width="300"]Camellia bowl mvp justin marshall Camellia bowl mvp justin marshall[/caption]
December 28, 2022

2022 Camellia Bowl Notebook

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

December 27, 2022

Georgia Southern Coach Clay Helton Press Conference Transcript


“One, I’d like to thank the Camellia Bowl for a wonderful week. And I’d like to thank Eagle Nation for an amazing turnout today. You could feel the energy all the way through the stands, coming from Statesboro and supporting this football team. I cannot thank them enough. Other people I can’t thank enough is this football team. I said it in the locker room, it’s been a wonderful ride this season. And I can’t thank our seniors enough for the foundation that they’ve led and laid for this team. In my opinion, the best is yet to be. Sometimes, you fight your guys out and it just doesn’t go your way at the end and that’s what this team did. I thought, defensively, they kept us in it enough to be able to stay in the game and keep it a one-score game for as long as possible. And, really, when you look at it and you break down the stats and you look at efficiency, really in the first half I thought it was important, the third-down efficiency. We were 2 of 7, they were 6 of 9. Especially in the red zone. They scored two touchdowns, we kicked two field goals early. Thought we did a better job in the second half. We finished, I think, 7 of 15, right about 50 percent. But we knew we were going to need to get two stops right there at the end. We knew play count wise, you were going to have two opportunities to get two stops. Hopefully, on third down. And we just came up short. I think they were 12 of 19 on the day. And that’s kind of the difference in the game. They made more third downs than us and you look up and they’re just slightly ahead of us. The only other thing that really triggered to me were the two turnovers in the second half. I thought defensively (we) probably saved the game with a huge stop after the fumble deep in our territory, to be able to keep it to where we could strike. Offensively, I was proud of putting up yards, just needed to finish and be able to protect the ball a little bit better.”

In particular, defensively, did they do anything you were surprised by, especially in the first half, because it seems like, as you mentioned, you guys struggled to move the ball?

“Well, it really wasn’t struggling to move it. If you look at the yards, we were sitting at 220 yards at halftime. So the ball was moving. It was a really clean game in the first half. There wasn’t any turnovers, but what was there was, when you look back on it, you go 2 of 7 on third down, especially in some third-and-manageable positions, we just didn’t strike. So that’s where I thought, especially, from that 5-yard line and in, we kick two field goals, one from the 3 and one from the 4. That was really the biggest difference in the game. That’s an eight-point swing, you know, if you convert those two third downs there. And it turned out to be the difference in the game. So if there’s one overlooming critique that you can say, it’s probably third downs and its third downs in the red zone in the first half.”

And it looked like (receiver) Beau (Johnson) was going in for a touchdown right there and he slips. As you mentioned, you guys go under center, they hit you for a 3-yard loss, you have to go for a couple of field goals. Just seemed like a lot of those kind of plays happened in this game where you guys didn’t quite get what you needed to get over the hump.

“They made just a couple more plays than us. Credit to Beau. I will say this: probably his best game as an Eagle. I thought he made some incredible plays for us. A great catch on that one, just felt off kilter just a little bit and fell down. But it makes no excuse. We’re first down inside the 10-yard line. We take a lot of pride in finishing drives. Credit to them. They played good red zone defense today.”

How is this game another example of the relentlessness of this team?

“Well, you know one of things that I think that has been laid here is just the tenacity to never quit and always compete on each and every play.”

You mentioned confidence there a few times. What’s the key, how do you go into the offseason carrying the momentum?

“Definitely. I told them in there I’ve always believed, each and every year, you’re going to lose probably about 45 percent of the locker room.”

I saw you and Kyle embrace after the game. How much has he meant to your program, getting you to this spot? I know it’s a team game, but without that guy I don’t think you get here.

“I’ve always believed great quarterbacks provide hope.”

I don’t know if you saw this from watching tape of them earlier, but they seemed to have a knack for converting a lot of third-down plays with big-time catches, especially by No. 1?

“Oh my goodness, what a great player. We mixed up enough coverages to try and slow them down and I thought (defensive coordinator) Will (Harris) did a nice job. We went into the game saying, hey, let’s stop the run, let’s make the quarterback beat us. What a special receiver. You could tell -- I don’t know how many times he was targeted, it had to be over 20, it felt like over 20 -- he is a very, very strong-handed catch player. When it was time to make plays, 12 for 19 (on third down), I don’t know how many of the 12 (third-down conversions) he made, but it felt like most of them was him.”

December 27, 2022

Buffalo Coach Maurice Linguist Press Conference Transcript

OPENING COMMENTS:“Hey guys, first off, hats off to Georgia Southern. Coach Clay Helton, I think they have a first-class program. I enjoyed getting to meet him and having some small conversations with him throughout the week that we’ve been here. Really proud and thankful that I met him and I really think he should be recognized for what he’s doing with his program. City of Montgomery has done a first-class job in taking care of us all week. I really, really enjoyed my time here in Montgomery, Alabama. The Camellia Bowl is a first-class event. Seeing Mayor (Steven) Reed, (Montgomery County Commission chairman) Doug (Singleton), all the executives with the bowl committee and the time that we had here, this city has been phenomenal. I really enjoyed the barbecue at Dreamland and all the other things we got to do and looking forward to coming back whenever time presents itself. So proud of our players and our coaches and our administration. We had to move a flight up 12 hours to beat a storm to get down here. If we did not do that, not even sure we would have made it down here on time to play the game. There’s a community back in the city of Buffalo right now that’s under a lot of snow. We talked as a team, the night before the game last night, that doing this for one another, doing this for God, who put us here, doing this for our teammates but also doing this for the city of Buffalo, doing this for the people that are back home that were going to be watching us on ESPN. I’m so proud of how our players played, I’m so proud of the commitment that they have. We started out the season 0-3. Everybody said, you know, whatever they said. They wrote us off, they questioned, they weren’t sure we were going to finish and here we are at the end. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. We’re champions and we talked about being bowl champions at the beginning of the season. We talked about being bowl champions back in January. And you fast forward 11 and a half months later and that’s what we are. Nobody’s ever going to be able to take that away from these guys. Justin Marshall and James Patterson, who’s going to go down as one of the all-time greats to ever play here at UB, Justin Marshall, who’s only spent one year with us but has made an impact, a very great impact in our locker room, in our program. I wish you could have guys like Justin and James here for 10 years but it doesn’t work that. They’re seniors, they’re going to go on to the NFL and they’re going to represent us really well, going to do that. But I’m so proud of all the guys, the grit, the determination. We talk about having a hard foundation, handling adversity, having mental and physical toughness and doing the next right thing in the moment and that’s what we did. And now we’re bowl champs.”

If you had such a good time down here, you might not be in a hurry to go home. How difficult is it to get back home?

“I’ve got three babies, a 5 (year old), a 3 (year old) and a newborn, so I’ve got to get home to see them. But maybe I can go collect them and bring them back to Montgomery and just hang out a little longer. But I’m going to take a little time with the family, then I’ll get right back after it with the team. We’ve got recruiting, we got a lot of other things, make sure our players make it back safely. We can’t wait to get back to our city and see our fans and see our supporters.”

You were talking about the 0-3 start. What got clicking for y’all, what got rolling?

“I think it’s just … we knew we were a much better team than what our record was. And we just didn’t finish out a couple of games the right way. I think if you watched this game today, this was kind of a small episode of kind of who we’ve been and what our season looked like. Just tough yards, grind out play after play and kind of throw a blanket over the scoreboard and just pound the rock is what we say. We have this saying called ‘HARD,’ handle adversity, respond and dominate. H-A-R-D, handle adversity, respond and dominate. And that’s all these guys did this entire season, that’s all they did this game. And they’re always going to be so special, especially these seniors. Especially these seniors, going to be so special to me. This is my first bowl win as a head coach and these guys allowed me to coach them. These guys set a foundation that’s going to propel us on to other great things in our program, but if you ever want to know what a UB football player should look like, look at Quian Williams, look at James Patterson, look at Justin Marshall, look at Gabe Wallace, look at some of these guys that have just, you know, pounded the rock, that have put in the work. They’re great guys that should be emulated.”

You talked about grinding out play after play, I mean that’s exactly what you did in the fourth quarter offensively. What was kind of the thinking?

“Well, we talk about it all the time. The closer the game gets, the more confident we get. The longer the game goes, the stronger we get. And we know that the hungriest team is always the most dangerous team. And we wanted to make sure we played with a grit, a determination, a hunger, a mental edge that you have to have. That’s something that is real in life, it’s called having a mental edge and our guys have bought into that. We have a lot of toughness in our locker room, we have a lot of pride in our locker room, we have a lot of humility in that locker room because of all the things we’ve gone through as well. I think we’ve been in the sweet spot of having that good balance of confidence in you and humility, what you have to have. But I know this: when the game is on the line, there are a ton of guys that I know we can count on. And I’m just really proud of how they were able to finish this game out and put away a really great Sun Belt team.”

Traditionally this game’s been really close in scoring. Obviously, you guys went up by nine, they scored the touchdown and you’ve got to get a couple of first downs, or at least one first down, to ice it. Just talk about the competition.

“Well, we looked up with six and a half minutes left and Alex McNulty, our kicker who’s been phenomenal for us all year, special teams player of the year in the Mid-American Conference, has done a phenomenal job, he goes in there and makes a clutch field goal and now we’ve got a two-score lead. So then it’s just about playing complementary football, right? How do we get stops on defense, get the ball back and how do we create the first downs. They have the three timeouts. We knew at some point in the series we were going to have to get a minimum of two, most likely three first downs to sustain the drive. They used the first two timeouts on first and second down. We got the first down on a third and three. We have a drill called ‘MAC Tough’ in our program. It’s a full, live-contact drill that we do every Tuesday for part of our ‘Toughness Tuesday’ practices, so you can hear all the echoes of ‘Mac Tough,’ ‘Mac Tough’ when it goes to third and three. It’s mental, it’s inside, it’s man on man, it’s move the man in front of you, it’s get behind your pads, it’s get the first down and lock the elbow out. You saw Taj Ahmed as well as our offensive line be able to push the pile. We get that first down, then we take a knee and now we’re lifting the trophy over our head.”

They talked about one of the things they wanted to do is get you guys off the field on third down, but I think you had a successful…”

“Sustaining drives. Our offensive line did a phenomenal job of protecting Cole (Snyder) and then we went to our playmakers. We’re going to Quian Williams, we’re going to Justin Marshall. Our first down success is what allowed us to have a lot of third down success. We had a couple of miscues that put us in … penalties where we were backed up, then Justin made some critical catches, Cole made some critical throws on third and long that allowed us to sustain the drives. And all we do is churn out the clock. We led the Mid-American Conference in time of possession. That’s a stat that nobody loves any more (but) we love it. We love time of possession. That’s a forgotten stat with everybody else. We led the conference in time of possession this year. We were right there, one or two, in fewest penalties. We were one of the least penalized teams in the Mid-American Conference. We know how to play tough, we know how to play disciplined, we know how to take care of the ball. We were top five this year nationally in takeaways, we play great complementary football and we just tie it all in together. Everybody’s got to do their job, right, for us to have this kind of win. We’re not a team that’s going to try and outscore you 60-50 or try to beat you 3-0. We play team football and the star of our team is the team. So we know that it takes the entire team for us to have success and everybody doing their job and that’s what we’re able to do.”

You hit on it a little bit, but I just kind of wanted to go back. Y’all made several really big third-down catches, especially by this guy (Justin Marshall) I just wanted you to talk about that.

“It’s not surprising. We have to execute in the moment, but how does that happen. It starts with ball security. Nick Hartnett snapping it to Cole Snyder and calling out the protection the right way. So you’ve got to go center to quarterback, right? You’ve got to get the timing and the rhythm down. They’re can’t be anybody in the pocket. We’ve got to protect the right way. They gave us some sync-up fronts, we were able to get the slide protection and call it out. Our backs did a great job on third down picking up the pressures. We had some second and third level pressures and we did a great job in protection, which gave us the time to get open. We felt like we were going to be able to get the ball to our playmakers on the outside, but what they were presenting on third down, we had to protect Cole the right way, Cole stepped up in the pocket and made some big-time throws, we got the first downs and that ate up another three, four, five minutes. And the best defense we have is our defense being on the sideline, is our offense being on the field. You know, it’s kind of hard for somebody else to score when they don’t have the ball. So if we can sustain drives and protect the quarterback, make completions and execute in the moment, we know that’s a formula that wins games.”

(From James Patterson) Coach, we know you were a DB back in the day, if you saw Justin Marshall receiving, how would you feel?

“That’s a question from James Patterson. I’ll tell you, just because he started like 55 games, I’m going to take his question. Justin’s got skills, now. He’s a Georgia guy, now. You know, Georgia guys, they got some game to them, so we know Justin’s got game in him. But I love you James, I love you Justin, I love you Trey (Hines). I’m getting out of here. You guys talk now.”

December 26, 2022

Gailey Honored at Camellia Bowl Luncheon

By Tim Gayle

Chan Gailey has coached football for nearly five decades and the 70-year-old Georgia native got a chance on Monday to reflect on his first head coaching role at Troy State in the mid-1980s.

“I got to see a lot of people that I haven’t seen (in years),” Gailey said. “Just guys that coached with me before and support the Troy program and Johnny (Williams, the executive director for the Camellia Bowl). You get to appreciate the relationships you’ve had throughout the years.”

Gailey was the recipient of the Alabama Legends Award, presented by Regions Bank, this year and was honored at the annual luncheon held at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa at the Convention Center on Monday afternoon.

“We’ve been blessed way beyond what we deserve,” Gailey said. “This is truly a humbling event for me. You know, you don’t think about it. You guys that are out there right now, you don’t think about what your life’s going to be like. All you can go do is you go out and be the best you can be, whatever that is, day after day.”

Gailey is the eighth recipient of the award, joining Bobby Bowden, Pat Dye, Woodrow Lowe, Gene Stallings, Johnny Davis, Larry Blakeney and Woody McCorvey.

Gailey also will be recognized prior to the 11 a.m. kickoff at Cramton Bowl of the Camellia Bowl, featuring Georgia Southern and the University of Buffalo. At Monday’s luncheon, Gailey directed his remarks to the players, calling football “the ultimate team sport in the world today.”

“If you look at all the other sports that are out there -- baseball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, ice hockey, water polo, volleyball, I’m not going to name them all -- but by the design and the plan of every one of those games, everybody touches the ball or the puck or whatever it is,” Gailey said. “But in the game of football, we’ve got a group of people called the offensive linemen that by the design and the plan of the game, they don’t touch the ball. Their whole job is to get down in the trenches and get nasty and dirty against other guys that weigh 300 pounds and they never get their name called out over the loudspeaker. They never get to dance in the end zone. They never get their name called out on ESPN. They’re in there doing their job, working their rear end off, so that somebody else can score the touchdown. They’re doing it for the team.”

The bowl, Gailey added, has the same type of involvement from a group of volunteers that do thankless work to ensure the teams get recognition.

Gailey, a former backup to All-American quarterback John Reaves at Florida, coached as an assistant at Florida, Troy and Air Force, as a head coach at Troy, Samford and Georgia Tech, as a coordinator with the Broncos, Steelers, Dolphins, Jets and Chiefs and head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills in the National Football League and the Birmingham Fire of the World League of American Football, giving him a perspective that few can match.

He has served as a defensive coordinator (Air Force) and as an offensive coordinator in four Super Bowls, but is best remembered in this area as the coach who helped Troy State win a Division II national championship in 1984.

“It’s amazing, the feeling,” Gailey said. “Somebody says who’s the best team you’ve ever coached? We’ve won a bunch of football games, been to four Super Bowls. But if you don’t say the national championship team, something’s wrong.”

He urged the players to make their stay in Montgomery a memorable one.

“I want to congratulate both teams, both coaches, both support staffs,” Gailey said. “You can’t do it without the coaches that you’ve had through the years. And I hope you enjoy this time. You never get this moment over again, this week over again, this game over again. Hope you enjoy it; hope you cherish it like I’ve cherished my years in this game.”

Later, as he reflected on his lifelong journey with the greatest team sport in the world, he said changes in the sport through name, image and likeness, the transfer portal and other recent moves by the National Football League is taking a toll on the sport.

“I started playing football in 1960 and started coaching (at Troy) in 1976,” Gailey said. “I started in the game of football and when I got to the pros, I ended up in the entertainment business. I really like that football business a lot better than I like that entertainment business. Now we’ve seen the entertainment part of it trickle down to the college game and maybe even to the high school game somewhat and we’re losing the game that I love so much. It’s still there in its basic form but we’re losing some parts of it that I have held dear through the years.”

December 26, 2022

Camellia Bowl Notebook

Buffalo and Georgia Southern will meet in the ninth annual Camellia Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at historic Cramton Bowl in downtown Montgomery. The 2022 Camellia Bowl is the first not to be played on a Friday or Saturday. This Camellia Bowl playing date (Dec. 27) is the latest in history.

Buffalo and Georgia Southern are former Camellia Bowl champions. Georgia Southern defeated Eastern Michigan 23-21 in the 2018 Camellia Bowl. Tyler Bass, who kicks for the Buffalo Bills, drilled a 40-yard field goal to give the Eagles the walk-off win. Buffalo defeated Marshall 17-10 in the 2020 Camellia Bowl.  Kevin Marks scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:09 left in the game.

The winner of the 2022 Camellia Bowl will join Appalachian State as the only two-time champion in the bowl’s 9-year history. Appalachian State won back-to-back Camellia Bowl championships in 2015-16. ASU defeated Ohio 31-29 in 2015 and Toledo 31-28 in 2016.

The game will be televised by ESPN with kickoff set for 11:02 a.m. (CT) with Drew Carter (play-by-play), Aaron Murray (analyst) and Lauren Sisler (sideline reporter). Jeff Graham is the producer and Kevin Shank is the director.

The game will also air on the Bowl Season Radio Network with J.D. Byars (play-by-play) and Colin Pilcher (analyst).

Looking for some fan support

The Bulls could use fan support from any local football fans attending the ninth annual Camellia Bowl.

The Bulls took a flight out of Buffalo 12 hours ahead of schedule, escaping the area just before it was hit by the worst winter storm in the city’s history.

A plane carrying the team’s band, cheerleaders and fans was scheduled to depart on Friday afternoon, then rescheduled for Monday as the airport was closed by blizzard conditions. The severe weather conditions left everyone confined to their homes -- even the team’s radio crew cannot drive to the stadium to broadcast the same remotely -- leaving the Bulls as a team without fans on Tuesday afternoon at Cramton Bowl.

“Of course, we want all of our fans here,” Buffalo safety Marcus Fuqua said, “but at the end of the day, we just have to play. We’re going to play the game, it’s going to be for them, and we’ve got them in the back of our minds. They can’t make it down, but we know that they love us. They’re going to be watching from home and just because they’re not here physically, we know they’re there in spirit.”

Buffalo coach Maurice Linguist, whose wife and children remained in Buffalo, opened his Friday press conference with an acknowledgment of his fans.

“I certainly want to recognize all of our families, friends, supporters that are back in Buffalo,” Linguist said. “We certainly have them in our hearts and in our minds as they go through a tough time right now dealing with the weather.”

Georgia Southern coach Clay Helton also had Buffalo on his mind when he stepped to the podium.

“I’d be remiss in not sending out our thoughts and prayers to the city of Buffalo and what they’re going through right now in their community under severe weather and hardship right now,” Helton said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

Teaching old linemen new tricks

When first-year coach Clay Helton elected to scrap the Eagles’ option style for a wide-open passing attack, he hoped his offensive line could make the adjustment.

That group included a pair of sixth-year guys (left tackle Brian Miller and right tackle Caleb Kelly) and a pair of fifth-year players (center Logan Langemeier and right guard Khalil Crowder) penciled in as starters, along with a youngster -- freshman Pichon Wimbley -- that would take over the starting position at left guard.

Through the first eight games of the season, they allowed just two sacks. For the year, they have only given up seven sacks.

“When you look across that line, four of the five kids have played a significant amount of ball,” Helton said. “I credit (offensive line coach) Richard Owens and the job he’s done with the offensive line. When you’re talking about throwing the ball 580 times in a season and you only have seven sacks, you’re doing something special. Those guys bought into it. You look at the opportunity to go to the next level; the next level is a passing league. So to be able to have a system that shows them as pass protectors, they really welcomed it. I am really proud of the work that they’ve been able to accomplish. They went from an offensive line that was much maligned to one of the best offensive lines in the country this year.”

Power 5 Success

The Sun Belt Conference had four Power 5 wins this season. Old Dominion, Appalachian State, Marshall and Georgia Southern all posted Power 5 wins.

In week one, Old Dominion defeated Virginia Tech, 20-17. The next week, the Sun Belt made some college football noise with three wins over Power 5 teams, Appalachian State knocked off Texas A&M 17-14; Marshall beat Notre Dame 26-21; and Georgia Southern outscored Nebraska 45-42.

“Yeah, it was one of the more intriguing reasons I was so excited about the job at Georgia Southern because I truly believed the Sun Belt was one of the premier Group of Five conferences out there,” Georgia Southern head coach Clay Helton said.

The league is only going to get better with the recent additions of FCS powerhouse James Madison, Coastal Carolina, Southern Miss and Old Dominion.

“It’s a credit to Commissioner (Keith) Gill and our presidents,” Helton said. “As other conferences were breaking apart, you look at the Sun Belt and they were adding. Nobody left. They had four unbelievable quality teams (joining the conference) and they consistently not only competed but won games within the Power Five this year.”

The Sun Belt Conference is 4-1 during the 2022 bowl season with two games to be played on Tuesday.

“It is an extremely competitive league on both sides (divisions),” Helton said. “You have to bring your ‘A’ game each and every week or you’re going to get your butt beat. And it’s one of those things that you look up and now you look at the seven bowl teams that are playing and the job they’re doing right now. And we look forward to representing our league and the quality league that it is.”