Western Michigan wins first bowl game

NASSAU, Bahamas — The Western Michigan football team captured the first bowl victory in school history, defeating Middle Tennessee State, 45-31, in the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl at Thomas Robinson Stadium Dec. 24.

WMU finishes 2015 with an 8-5 overall record under third-year head coach P.J. Fleck. It is the second-straight eight-win season for Western Michigan, a feat that had also never been accomplished before in program history.

The game started and ended nothing short of an old-fashioned shootout. The two teams combined for 34 points and 475 yards in the first quarter alone and the score was tied 17-17 at the half.

Western Michigan pulled away in the fourth quarter, taking a 14-point lead after back-to-back touchdown runs by Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year Jamauri Bogan.

Bogan was named Offensive MVP of the 2015 Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl and finished with four touchdowns and a career-high 215 yards, pushing him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He had three 40 yard-plus rushes in the game, one for a 62-yard touchdown on third and long on WMU’s first drive of the game.

Senior safety Rontavious Atkins came up with a critical interception that set up Bogan’s final touchdown and halted what could have been a game-tying drive by the Raiders. Atkins stepped in front of a pass with less than six minutes remaining and returned it 29 yards to the MTSU four-yard line. Bogan punched the ball in from a yard out to give WMU a two-touchdown lead.

Junior wide receiver Corey Davis was a constant threat down the field, totaling a season-high 183 yards on eight catches, one for an 80-yard touchdown. Davis spun away from his defender and turned a short pass into a career-long 80-yard touchdown to tie the score at the end of the first quarter 17-17.

The 80-yard connection was also a career long for junior quarterback Zach Terrell. Terrell finished with 297 yards in the air, completing 18-of-26 pass attempts. He threw for two touchdowns and  was intercepted once.

Junior Daniel Braverman caught a 68-yard touchdown pass from Terrell in the fourth quarter. Braverman registered five catches for 101 yards.

It was second time this season that the Broncos have had two 100-yard receivers (Davis and Braverman) and a 100-yard rusher in the same game (Bogan).

Senior linebacker Grant DePalma was named the Defensive MVP after registering a team-high 12 tackles, including one for a loss.
Middle Tennessee State scored on its opening kickoff on a 47-touchdown reception by Jordan Parker. Western Michigan trailed 14-7 and 14-7 in the first quarter before pulling even on Davis’ 80-yard touchdown reception.

After the two teams combined for 34 points in the first quarter, the defenses stepped up for a scoreless second quarter that saw just 147 total yards combined.

WMU took its first lead of the game at the start of the third quarter when Bogan ripped off a 46-yard touchdown run. Middle Tennessee countered with a 17-yard touchdown reception by Christian Collins.

The game was tied 24-24 entering the fourth quarter and WMU closed out the game outscoring the Raiders 21-7.
Western Michigan had 515 yards of total offense. Middle Tennessee totaled 368.

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