MONTGOMERY – FIU and Arkansas State are set to meet in the sixth annual Camellia Bowl at historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery on Saturday, Dec. 20. The game will kick off at 4:35 p.m. (CT) and will be televised by ESPN. The broadcast team will be Taylor Zarzour (play-by-play), Matt Stinchcomb (analyst) and Alyssa Lang (sideline).
Arkansas State is making its second appearance in the Camellia Bowl. A-State ties Appalachian State for the most Camellia Bowl appearances. The Red Wolves lost to Middle Tennessee 35-30 in 2107. FIU is making its first Camellia Bowl appearance. The Panthers are the 10th different team to play in the Camellia Bowl.
Here are the links to watch the game and the post-game trophy presentation. The Camellia Bowl will also be streamed live on the ESPN app, accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets and streaming devices to fans who receive their video or internet subscription from an affiliated provider.
ESPN3 will again be providing exclusive coverage of the Camellia Bowl trophy presentation following the conclusion of the game. Trophy presentation coverage will be promoted late in the game telecast directing fans to watch the coverage on ESPN3.
ESPN App Game Link: http://www.espn.com/watch?id=566b73ae-205c-4141-9176-32f6d54b7e11
Spanish Game Link: http://www.espn.com/watch?id=5654cac6-65a9-4786-88ac-8817f059c141
Trophy Presentation Link: http://www.espn.com/watch?id=be0cd3cf-3f44-4b29-afd8-1e7c7aff9cef
The five Camellia Bowl games have been decided by 17 total points. There have been three game-winning field goals and one game-winning TD in the fourth quarter. There have been two walk-off wins in the five-year history. Appalachian State kicker Zach Matics drilled a walk-off FG in the 31-28 win over Ohio in 2016. Georgia Southern kicker Tyler Bass hit a 40-yard FG as time expired to beat Eastern Michigan 23-21 in 2018.
HEAD COACHES MEET THE MEDIA
FIU head coach Butch Davis and Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson met with the media one last time on Friday before Saturday’s Camellia Bowl. Here are some of their comments.
Butch Davis, FIU Head Coach:
“I think we had a good week of practice prior to coming here and we’ve had good practices since we got here. I will say this about the Camellia Bowl it has been a really good week. The kids have a good time and we have been some really unbelievably good things that had happened. (Thursday) our team got a chance to go through the Rosa Parks Museum and learn am awful lot about the history of the city of Montgomery and the impact that she had and the impact of the Civil Rights movement in the early 1960s. It’s great to be here and we have had a great week.”
Blake Anderson, ASU Head Coach:
“Our guys have had a great time with all the things. I’d like to thank all the people that made it possible. I can’t imagine all the hours that go in with volunteer work and all the people involved. It’s been a great week. We are kind of winding down. We talk about laser focus, the details and fine-tuning the game plan. We have moved past the bowl week now to really prepare for the game. I think you throw the records out the window. These are two good teams on the field. We’ve had a really good week of work. I think our practices have been high-tempo and competitive. You can tell the guys are eager to be here and want to find a way to get win. It would mean a lot to the senior class to find a way to get to eight (wins), especially considering all they have been through. We are very fortunate to be here in the first place. I don’t think a lot of teams I don’t think would have the ability and resiliency this group has shown, so it’s a testament to them. We want to win. We want to find a way to win. We know it’s going to be a huge challenge because we are playing a really good team.”
Arkansas State boasts one of the top passing games on the country. FIU has one of the top pass defenses nationally. So something will have to give Saturday in the sixth annual Camellia Bowl.
ASU ranks second on the Sun Belt Conference (14th FBS) in passing offense. The Red Wolves are averaging 305.3 passing yards per game. FIU led Conference USA in passing defense (178.1) and pass efficiency defense (114.2). The Panther ranked sixth nationally in pass defense.
“They are going to play man coverage and put their hands on you, and we are going to have to win at the line,” Anderson said. “I think we have to play above the rim. When the ball is in the air we have to attack, we can’t wait for it to come down. We played here a couple of years and Middle Tennessee played man coverage and held on for dear life. It was a long night. We did not get a tremendous amount of help from the officiating crew and it took until late in the game to calm those guys down. This will be the same way. We are going to have to battle. It’s going to be physical.”
Arkansas State ASU threw for 300 or more yards in eight of 12 games, including a season-high 455 yards in the win at Troy. ASU has 33 touchdown passes and thrown at least one TD pass in 11 of 12 games. Redshirt freshman quarterback Layne Hatcher threw for 2,553 yards and 23 TDs this season. He leads the Sun Belt Conference in passing efficiency (175.3) and completion percentage (.683).
“They have a really good quarterback and receivers,” FIU linebacker Sage Lewis said. “They have play-makers at the receiver position. I feel like our DBs are well-matched with them.”
His top three targets are senior Omar Bayless, junior Jonathan Adams, Jr., and senior Kirk Merritt. The trio has combined for 206 receptions for 3,024 yards and 31 touchdowns. Bayless is the leading receiver with 84 catches for 1,472 yards and 14 TDs. He is second in the nation in all three categories behind LSU wide out and Biletnikoff Award winner Ja’Marr Chase.
“It all comes down to us going out there and making plays,” Bayless said. “It’s really not about them, it’s about us.
ALABAMA RED WOLVES:
Arkansas State has seven players on its roster from the state of Alabama.
The list includes senior defensive back B.J. Edmonds (St. Paul’s HS), freshman DeQuan Ball (Pinson Valley HS), sophomore linebacker Derrick Bean (Chalkville HS), junior Caleb Bonner (Pickens County HS), freshman quarterback KaRon Coleman (Greene County HS), senior linebacker Trent-Ellis Brewer (Daphne HS) and junior wide receiver Eugene Minter (Parker HS).
Edmonds will be playing in his second Camellia Bowl. He recorded four tackles and two interceptions against Middle Tennessee in the 2017 Camellia Bowl. He is the Red Wolves second-leading tackler with 87 stops this season. He is the ASU co-leader with 10 pass breakups and two interceptions.
Bonner has played in all 12 games and is the fifth-leading tackler. He has recorded 57 tackles, 5.5 TFLs (-10) and one interception. He had a 66-yard interception return for TD against Coastal Carolina.
“It’s always exciting when you come back close to home, friends and family will be able to see you play. We played at Troy and South Alabama this year, too. It’s always fun and exciting to be in Alabama again. I know a lot folks are planning on coming to see me play.”
He said he chose ASU because of the family atmosphere.
“This team is family oriented,” Bonner added. “They treat us all like we are their own kids. I was at Pickens County and they came to visit and fell in love. I went to Jonesboro and wanted to go there. It was home to me.”