MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Cole Snyder passed for 265 yards and Tajay Ahmed took over the fourth quarter with 14 carries to lead Buffalo to a 23-21 victory over Georgia Southern in the Camellia Bowl on Tuesday.
The Bulls (7-6) chewed up the clock with runs from Ahmed on 11 consecutive plays and one pile-pushing final first down. He finished with 27 carries for 98 yards and a touchdown.
That last first down meant quarterback Kyle Vantrease and Georgia Southern (6-7) couldn’t get the ball back for a final chance against Vantrease’s former team, with whom he spent five years and started 26 games before transferring.
Snyder, a Rutgers transfer, completed 21 of 38 passes, including a 32-yard touchdown to game MVP Justin Marshall to outduel his predecessor. Marshall caught 11 passes for 127 yards, and Quian Williams gained 100 yards on five catches.
Vantrease completed 28 of 45 passes for 352 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Beau Johnson had five catches for 118 yards.
It was Buffalo’s third straight bowl win after going 0-3 in bowls.
Buffalo got a cushion thanks to Dylan Powell’s interception and return across midfield in the fourth quarter. Ahmed then carried nine straight times but was stopped on three runs starting from the 2.
The Bulls had to settle for a 23-14 lead with Alex McNulty’s third field goal of the second half with 8:38 left. That FG was a school record, No. 49 of his career.
Vantrease and Georgia Southern stayed alive with a 13-play, 90-yard drive. On fourth-and-7 from his own territory, Vantrease hit Johnson for a 42-yard gain. Then Jjay McAfee made a grab in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown with 3:38 left.
Georgia Southern needed only 26 seconds in the second half to wipe out a 14-6 deficit, thanks to a fumble, Vantrease’s 79-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Thompson and a two-point conversion.
Georgia Southern: Once known for the triple option and loads of runs, first-year coach Clay Helton implemented a pass-oriented offense. Vantrease broke the Eagles’ bowl record with his 11th completion — on the opening drive of the second quarter.
Buffalo: Held onto the ball for more than 38 minutes in the game, and converted 12 of 19 third-down plays, largely on Snyder passes. The last was a 9-yarder to Marshall on the sideline to keep the final drive going.
Buffalo’s band, cheerleaders, and radio crew weren’t able to make the bowl game because flights were canceled out of their city, which saw a massive winter storm and at least 27 storm-related deaths.
Georgia Southern: Must replace Vantrease and most of the offensive and defensive line starters before opening the 2023 season at home against The Citadel.
Buffalo: Opens the 2023 season at Wisconsin on Sept. 2 with Snyder, safety Marcus Fuqua and tailback Mike Washington expected back.
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