The bowl season will begin in the Bahamas this year as the 2019 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl has been set for Friday, Dec. 20 at 2 p.m. ET.
Coach: Lance Leipold
Buffalo Players to watch:
**Sophomore RB Jaret Patterson (5-9/190)
Patterson set national season highs with 298 yards and six touchdowns on 22 carries against Bowling Green on Friday (Nov. 29). The sophomore running back tallied 272 yards and five touchdowns in the first half alone. The rushing total was the highest since Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin went for 321 against Purdue in November 2018.
Patterson finished the regular season ranked 5th nationally in rushing with 1,626 yards. He also scored 17 touchdowns which placed him 8th in the nation. He only needs 165 total yards from scrimmage this week to hit 2,000 all-purpose yards for the year.
**Sophomore RB Kevin Marks (6-2/205)
Buffalo has a rare one-two punch at the running back position. Sophomore Kevin Marks has racked up 1,008 yard on 215 carries, along with eight touchdowns. It is the first time in school history the Bulls have had two 1,000 yard rushers in the same season. Buffalo ranks 11th in the nation averaging 254.3 rushing yards per game.
*Junior DE Taylor Riggins (6-2/255)
The Bulls are stout on defense as one of the nation’s top teams in rushing defense, allowing only 95.3 yards per game. Overall, Buffalo has held opponents to an average of 22.3 points per game. The Bulls tied a school record with 38 sacks, with junior defensive end Taylor Riggins leading the squad with 8.5 for minus-46 yards. Riggins also recovered three fumbles on the season.
*Junior S Tyrone Hill (6-1/195)
One of the bright spots on a very good defensive unit. Hill is the last line of defense, he has spent a lot of time in film study this year. He currently ranks third on the team in total tackles with 66. Playing more deep safety, Hill also led the team with nine passes defended.
Last year, at the Dollar General Bowl, Hill took a interception back 93-yards for the pick-six. Can he get another one in the Bahamas Bowl?
Senior S Joey Banks (5-10/200)
One the of the best players in the MAC, also known as the “Tazmanian Devil”. This season Banks is one of the most entertaining players on the team to watch, he has a high football IQ and a love for contact which combine for great highlights both breaking up passes and bringing down ball carriers. He leads the Bulls in total tackles (78), solo tackles (53) and interceptions (3).
In 2018, the JUCO transfer ended the year with had 41 tackles, an interception and six pass breakups.
Coach: Will Healy
Charlotte Players to watch:
Senior RB Benny LeMay (5-9/218)
The 49ers powerful offense is led by versatile quarterback Chris Reynolds and 1,000-yard rusher Benny LeMay. In his 49er career, LeMay has racked up 3,177 rushing yards, 640 receiving yards, and 22 touchdowns. His best game came in 2017, when he put up 178 rushing yards against Florida International.
Against Clemson (Sept. 21), LeMay rushed for 81 yards, tying his own mark for the most rushing yards by a 49er against a Power 5 opponent. Last year, LeMay rushed for 81 yards at Tennessee.
LeMay finished this year strong, toting the rock 232 times for 1,243 yards and 11 scores to go along with 21 catches.
Senior DE Alex Highsmith (6-3/244)
The 49ers defense is headlined by defensive end Alex Highsmith, the Charlotte’s all-time sack king (21). As a junior last season, Highsmith was the country’s highest-graded edge defender in run defense (90.6), according to Pro Football Focus. His 17.5 tackles-for-loss ranked 16th nationally.
“What a great college football story,” 49ers coach Will Healy said before the season began. “You talk about a guy who walked-on here. Now he’s got preseason all-conference and some All-American-type hype around him. He lives up to it. He’s a self-made, great football player.”
Throughout the year, Highsmith has kept the hype up, racking up 18.5 tackles-for-loss, along with 3 sacks and two forced fumbles.
**Sophomore DE Markees Watts (6-2/240)
Defensive ends senior Alex Highsmith and sophomore Markees Watts lead the team with 15 and 9.5 sacks respectively. Charlotte set a single-season record with 36 sacks, which ranks 16th nationally. Watt also has 12.5 tackles-for-loss and three forced fumbles.
**Sophomore WR Victor Tucker (5-11/182)
Charlotte 49ers redshirt sophomore wide receiver Victor Tucker was named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week after leading the 49ers to a 24-13 win over Marshall (Nov. 23) that clinched the program’s first-ever bowl eligibility. The 49ers leading receiver finished the day with five catches for 121 yards. It was his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the year. All four have come against C-USA opponents.
On the year, Tucker has 848 receiving yards on 49 receptions with a 17.1 yards per catch average. He also has scored seven times.
Senior SS Marquavis Gibbs (6-1/195)
“I feel really good about our depth at DB,” said head coach Will Healy. “We’ve got some really good playmakers. Any one of them could be great players, and I think that’s upped the intensity…” Gibbs, coming up from the box, leads the team with 94 total tackles.
Senior MLB Jeff Gemmell (6-3/234)
Senior middle linebacker Jeff Gemmell, recently recorded his program-best 300th career tackle. “Jeff is so smart, he’s so self conscious about getting everything right,” said first-year 49ers coach Will Healy. “If he misses an assignment, he beats himself up. He gets everybody lined up, getting all our fits right. We see a tremendous drop when he’s not in the game.”
Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
Buffalo 31, Charlotte 9
Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium
Dec 20, 2019 | 2 p.m. | ESPN
2018 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
FIU 35, Toledo 32