Buccaneers upset No. 14 Scottsdale in Valley of the Sun Bowl, 23-20

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Consistent quarterback play from Brock Landis and key defensive stops and turnovers gave Blinn College football (7-4) the edge over No. 14 Scottsdale Community College (7-4) on Saturday afternoon in the Valley of the Sun Bowl at the Scottsdale Community College Football Field. 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 Scottsdale’s offense, while Landis was named the Valley of the Sun Bowl Offensive Most Valuable Player after leading Blinn with three touchdowns.

Blinn 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 one 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.”

Blinn’s defense set an early tone in the first quarter 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 Scottsdale’s 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.”

Landis scored Blinn’s first touchdown on a four-yard run for the Buccaneers to take a 7-0 lead with 12:55 on the clock in the first quarter. The Buccaneers held Scottsdale scoreless until 44 seconds remained in the first half and quarterback Kare Lyles connected with Joshua Daniels on a 38-yard pass to even the score 7-7.

Landis opened the third quarter with his first touchdown pass of the game after linking up with Keric Wheatfall in the end zone for a 15-yard pass with 11 minutes showing. Blinn’s defense continued to pressure Scottsdale’s offense as Robert Jackson recovered a fumble that led to a field goal. Emerson Garcia kicked a 26-yard field goal for the Buccaneers to lead 17-7 with 8:59 left in the third quarter.

Blinn scored its final touchdown with 12:37 left as Landis threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Hutchinson for the Buccaneers to lead 23-7. Scottsdale rallied in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns as Alec Wyble-Meza scored on a 36-yard rushing touchdown with 9:40 left and Lyles and Daniels connected for a 2-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds remaining.

After Scottsdale recovered an onside kick, Tuciano Pope intercepted the ball for Blinn to win the game.

The Buccaneers finish the season with a 7-4 record