MONTGOMERY – Here are the game notes form the 2021 TaxAct Camellia Bowl played on Christmas Day at the historic Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.
Final Score: Georgia State defeated Ball State 51-20 in the most-lopsided game in TaxAct Camellia Bowl history. The 31-point margin is the most-lopsided game in the eight year history of the bowl. The previous seven games were decided by a total of 32 points. Georgia State set the Camellia Bowl record with 51 points scored. The previous high was 35 points by Middle Tennessee in 2017. The 71 combined points are the most in Camellia Bowl history. The previous record was 65 combined points Middle Tennessee (35) and Arkansas State (30) in 2017. GSU’s 51 points are also the fourth-most points scored by one team during the 2021-22 bowl season.
Bart Starr MVP Award: Georgia State redshirt junior quarterback, Darren Grainger accounted for 325 total yards and four touchdowns to earn the Bart Starr Most Valuable Player award. Grainger completed 15-of-19 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns. At one point, he completed 11 straight passes. He also ran 11 times for 122 yards and one touchdown to become the second quarterback in Camellia Bowl history with 100 or more rushing yards. Grainger is the third quarterback to win the award. Georgia State finished with 464 total yards, the third-highest total in Camellia Bowl history.
Game Captains: The 2021 honorary game captains were Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, Montgomery County Commissioner Doug Singleton, TaxAct representative Kenny Watts and Camelia Bowl Executive Director Johnny Williams. The Georgia State game captains were Talique Williams, Malik Sumter, Sharmarious Gilmore and Hadrick Willis. The Ball State game captains were Bryce Cosby, Drew Plitt, J.T. Wahee and Tyler Potts.
Weather: Partly cloudy, 75 degrees, Wind: SW 13
Coin Toss: Georgia State won the toss and deferred to the second half; Ball State will receive and defend north goal.
Highest Scoring First Half: Georgia State and Ball State combined for 33 first-half points, tying for the highest scoring first-half in Camellia Bowl history. Arkansas State and FIU also combined for 33 points in the first half in 2018.
Third-Longest TD Pass: Ball State QB Drew Plitt’s 56-yard TD pass to Jayshon Jackson with 8:59 left in the first quarter is the third-longest TD pass in Camellia Bowl history.
Defensive Touchdowns: Georgia State tied the Camellia Bowl record with two defensive touchdowns in its win over Ball State. Ohio also had two defensive touchdowns in its 31-29 loss to Appalachian State in 2015. GSU defensive end Javon Denis had a 37-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first quarter to give the Panthers a 14-7 lead. Linebacker Jamil Muhammad, a native of Madison, Ala., forced a fumble from BSU quarterback Plitt, and Denis scored the first of two TDs by the Panthers defense. In the third quarter, sophomore safety Antavious Lane had a 55-yard interception return to give the Panthers a 48-13 lead at the end of three quarters. Lane’s 55-yard interception return is the longest in Camellia Bowl history. There have now been five defensive TDs in Camellia Bowl history. The other defensive TDs include: DJ Sanders 54-yard fumble return (Middle Tennessee, 2017); Quentin Poling 20-yard interception return (Ohio, 2015) and Jovon Johnson 45-yard fumble return (Ohio, 2015).
GSU Sets Third Quarter Scoring Record: Georgia State scored a Camellia Bowl record 28 points in the third quarter in its win over Ball State. The Panthers had three offensive TDs and one defensive score to turn a one score game into a comfortable 48-13 lead. The previous record was 24 points by Appalachian State in the 31-29 win over Ohio in 2015. The Mountaineers trailed 24-7 entering the fourth quarter and scored 24 points for the two-point win.
GSU Ties Camellia Bowl Record with 8 TFLs: Georgia State tied the Camellia Bowl record with eight tackles for loss against Ball State. The Panthers are the fifth team to record eight TFLs in the game. Six different players had a TFL in the game, including two each by Tre Moore and Jamil Muhammad.
Merry Christmas; Happy Birthday, Noel: Georgia State kicker Noel Ruiz celebrated his birthday on Christmas Day at the Cramton Bowl. The senior made all three field goal attempts and finished the game with 15 points.
Georgia State Tight End was a Payne: GSU tight end Aubry Payne had the best game of his career against Ball State. The senior caught nine passes for 109 yard and two TDs in the win. The nine catches, 109 yards and two scores were all career-highs. He hauled in a game-tying 18-yard TD pass in the first quarter and added a 19-yard TD in the third quarter.
Ball State Sets Record for Fewest Rushing Yards: Ball State had 35 rushing attempts for 24 yards in the loss to Georgia State. The 24 rushing yards are the fewest by one team in Camellia Bowl history. The previous record was 97 rushing yards by Eastern Michigan in 2018. In addition, Ball State’s 1.3 yards per carry is the lowest Camellia Bowl history. The previous record was 2.7 yards per carry by Bowling Green (2014) and Arkansas State (2017). Ball State became the third team in Camellia Bowl history without a rushing TD, joining Eastern Michigan (2019) and Arkansas State (2019).
School Record Eight Wins: Georgia State won a school record eight games this season. The Panthers closed the season with seven wins in its last eight games. The Panthers have won back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history. GSU defeated Western Kentucky 39-21 in the 2020 LendingTree Bowl in Mobile. Georgia State is one of the youngest FBS programs in the nation. This capped their 12th season of football.