If you like your after-dark football a little dangerous and a lot wild, the Camellia Bowl was served it up just right.
Seemingly in control at halftime, Bowling Green (8-6) watched as South Alabama (6-7), playing in its first-ever bowl game, whittled away at the deficit and actually took the lead late. However, the Falcons matched the Jaguars’ late-game magic with some of its own, claiming a wild 33-28 win in the inaugural Camellia Bowl.
With 1:20 remaining in the game, a three-yard Terrance Timmons run gave USA its first lead of the game at 27-26. However, on BGSU’s first play from scrimmage after that go-ahead score, James Knapke hit Roger Lewis on a 78-yard touchdown pass that, after a failed two-point conversion, gave the Falcons a five-point lead with 1:04 remaining.
On the very next play from scrimmage for USA, any hopes of another comeback were immediately thwarted as quarterback Brandon Bridge threw his second interception of the game. All told, the Jaguars committed four turnovers.
Knapke finished the game with 368 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner. Suffice to say, he was named as the Camellia Bowl’s most outstanding player.
BGSU and Knapke, though, would’ve saved themselves some angst at the end if they hadn’t botched a possession midway through the fourth quarter.
Up 27-21, BGSU moved the ball to the USA one-yard line thanks to a pass interference penalty in the end zone. Three straight running plays up the middle gained exactly zero yards. Instead of going for it on fourth down to essentially put the game out of reach, the Falcons attempted an 18-yard field goal… and promptly missed it.
Another source of angst for the winning squad? Ronnie Moore, one of BGSU’s starting wide receivers, was ejected for targeting on a punt return early in the third quarter. At the time of his ejection, Moore had five receptions for 61 yards and his team led 20-7; after that, the Falcons were outscored 21-13 and nearly coughed up the victory.
The game wasn’t without its bizarre moments on the sidelines, either.
Very early in the third quarter, an official was injured by something thrown from the stands as he was running down the sidelines. In the fourth quarter, USA head coach Joey Jones, a former Alabama football player, sustained an injury to the nose after he was inadvertently kicked by one of his own players who had been tackled out of bounds. Jones was shown during the broadcast bleeding rather profusely and being tended to by team medical personnel as he continued his coaching duties, with the speculation being that it was broken.
After midnight, and at least as far as college football goes, it doesn’t get much better than MACtion vs. Funbelt.