MONTGOMERY – Georgia Southern and Buffalo arrived in town on Friday to begin on-site preparations for the ninth annual Camellia Bowl.
While their paths to bowl eligibility were similar, their trip to Montgomery was vastly different.
Buffalo is in the midst of a massive snow storm. The forecast called for a blizzard warning until Sunday at 7 a.m. Snow fall amounts are predicted to reach 40 inches with winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour.
The Bulls called a last-minute audible and flew into Montgomery in the wee hours of the morning on Friday to beat the less than ideal conditions.
“We took a hard look at the weather and decided to at the last minute to leave late Thursday night,” Buffalo Athletics Director Mark Alnutt said. “Had we waited it might have been Sunday or Monday before we would have gotten here.”
Georgia Southern made a much less hectic trip from trip Statesboro.
Buffalo and Georgia Southern both needed wins in their final regular season game to become bowl eligible.
Both teams won their final game, and both did in dramatic fashion.
Georgia Southern became bowl eligible with a 51-48 double-overtime win over Appalachian State on Nov. 26 in Statesboro. The game featured seven lead changes and three ties before the dust was settled.
After both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime, ASU settled for a field goal in the second overtime to take a48-45 lead. Georgia Southern answered with a 25-yard TD pass from Kyle Vantrease to Ezrah Archie on the second play for the thrilling win.
“Well, it’s a reward, first of all,” Georgia Southern head coach Clay Helton said. “And if you watched those last two games, us vs. Appalachian State and Buffalo vs. Akron, you know you saw two teams just fighting and scratching for the opportunity to be in postseason play. And I think about the young men, especially when you talk about our football team, I think about some fifth- and sixth-year kids. This is their last opportunity, your last game. This is your last game as a football family, so it’s special. And you always remember your last game.”
Buffalo’s season came down the wire too. The Bulls rallied from a 16-0 deficit to take a one-point lead on Cole Snyder’s 6-yard TD pass to Justin Marshall late in the third quarter.
Akron regained the lead 22-17 on Clyde Price’s 17-yard run with 11 minutes left in the game. The 2-point conversion attempt was no good.
Buffalo marched 60 yards in the final three minutes for the game-winning score. Snyder’s 16-yard pass to Quain Williams gave the Bulls a 23-22 lead. The 2-point attempt was no good. The defense held off the Zips in the final minute to make the Bulls bowl eligible.
The teams will have an action-packed Christmas Eve visiting the Rosa Parks Museum before practice. Following practice, Georgia Southern will have dinner and bowling at the Bama Lanes. Buffalo will be treated to Dreamland barbecue feast.
“The game is about the team and we’re certainly proud to be here,” Buffalo head coach Maurice Linguist said. “We’re proud to be in the state of Alabama and the city of Montgomery. We cannot wait for this game to take place and we’re looking forward to having a great bowl experience while we’re here. And I’m just thankful so much for you selecting us and I’m really proud to be here.”
The 2022 Camellia Bowl will be played Tuesday, Dec. 28 at 11 a.m. at the historic Cramton Bowl. The game will be televised by ESPN.