Over the years, there have been plenty of crazy and thrilling finishes in bowl games. One however, would be hard-pressed to find a crazier one than the one that took place on this day five years in the inaugural Bahamas Bowl.
In a battle of 7-5 teams, it looked as though Western Kentucky was simply too good for Central Michigan as the teams met in Nassau on Christmas Eve, 2014. The Hilltoppers led by 35 points after three quarters, but had to prevail by stopping a Central Michigan 2-point conversion attempt after a Hail Mary for a touchdown that consisted of three laterals on the final play of regulation.
Behind 486 yards passing and five touchdowns from quarterback Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky took a 49-14 lead into the final period. That quarter would see Central Michigan’s Cooper Rush throw for five touchdowns, including three over the final 3:06.
With just over a minute to go, Rush’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Garland made it a 1-score game, but after the Chippewas failed to recover the onside kick, it appeared to be too little, too late. Central Michigan used its final two timeouts and came up with a 3-and-out on Western Kentucky’s next possession, but when it got the ball back at its own 25-yard-line, there was time for only one play.
Rush heaved one to the middle of the field where Jesse Kroll made a leaping catch inside the Hilltoppers’ 30-yard-line. Kroll flipped to his left to Deon Butler who then flipped it to Courtney Williams. Williams headed left before lateraling the ball to Titus Davis who broke right to the pylon for the final 17 yards and a touchdown that seemed to defy reality.
With momentum on their side, head coach Dan Enos and the Chippewas elected to go for the 2-point conversion and the win. Unfortunately for Central Michigan, Rush’s fade pass to the corner of the end zone was knocked away and what would have been perhaps the greatest comeback in college football history fell one play short.
Rush passed for 493 yards and seven touchdowns in the loss. Both Davis and Kroll went over the 100-yard mark receiving for Central Michigan in the loss. Davis finished with four touchdown receptions. Western Kentucky’s Willie McNeal led all receivers with 155 yards on five catches to go with a score.
The Chippewas haven’t won a bowl game since, but their efforts in the inaugural Bahamas Bowl was nothing short of commendable. They were however, responsible for one of the most memorable, bizarre plays in bowl history. It happened on this day five years ago.
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