Consistent quarterback play from Brock Landis and key defensive stops gave Blinn College the edge over No. 14 Scottsdale Community College Saturday afternoon in the Valley of the Sun Bowl in Scottsdale, AZ.
The victory marked the Buccaneers’ first bowl game win since 2011 and first under head coach Ryan Mahon.
“Defensively we played lights-out the entire game and our secondary played their best game of the year, and offensively we started making plays that we needed to in the second half,” Mahon said. “I am really proud of our guys for working hard all year long and to conclude the season with a bowl game win couldn't be more exciting.”
Darius Milton was named the Valley of the Sun Bowl Defensive Most Valuable Player after forcing a fumble and catching an interception in the first quarter of the game to stop the Artichokes’ offense.
In charge of the Blinn offense, Landis was named the Valley of the Sun Bowl Offensive Most Valuable Player after capped a trio of scoring drives.
The Bucs entered the game with one of the top offenses, ranking No. 1 in the nation with 507.4 yards per game. Landis kept Blinn’s offense rolling by completing 21-of-35 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns while rushing the ball in for another touchdown.
“It feels great to win a bowl game and bring the football program this kind of win,” Landis said. “In the second half, we started to see things more clearly and knowing our defense had our backs took a lot of pressure off of us.”
The Buccaneer defense set an early tone in the first frame by keeping Scottsdale off the board.
Milton was involved in two turnovers for Blinn in the first quarter by forcing a fumble recovered by Djuan Matthews and catching an interception in the Artichoke end zone.
“I am very excited that we won the bowl game,” Milton said. “Our defense was successful because we have an amazing coaching staff that called great plays.”
It was that defense that came through in the final seconds to hold off a last-minute comeback by Scottsdale.
Landis threw his final score of the game to Xavier Hutchinson to extend the Buccaneer lead to 23-7 with 12:37 remaining in the game.
However, the Artichokes still had fight left in them, and nearly came all the way back following a rushing touchdown from Alec Wyble-Meza and a passing connection from quarterback Kare Lyles to Joshua Daniels.
That final touchdown came with only ten seconds left on the clock and Scottsdale executed a successful onside kick and took back over only to suffer an interception courtesy of Tuciano Pope who secured the game for Blinn.