MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Kevin Marks scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 1:09 left and Buffalo made a final defensive stop to beat Marshall 17-10 in the Camellia Bowl on Friday.
Subbing for the national leader in rushing yards per game, Jaret Patterson, Marks carried 35 time for 138 yards for the Bulls (6-1) against one of the nation's top run defenses.
Grant Wells took Marshall (7-3), which had rallied from a 10-0 deficit, to the Buffalo 20 with no timeouts. Kadofi Wright's sack helped force a fourth-and-11 and Eric Black added his second sack to end the threat.
Buffalo improved to 2-3 in bowls, also beating Charlotte in the 2019 Bahamas Bowl.
The matchup between the nation's top rushing team and the No. 2 run defense lost some of its luster even before kickoff.
Patterson, who had 1,072 yards and 19 touchdowns in six games, didn't dress out after sustaining a right knee injury in the Mid-American Conference Championship Game.
Marks had 23 carries for 117 yards by halftime, though he was mostly shut down in the second half by a defense giving up just 88.9 rushing yards a game coming in.
The Thundering Herd still held Buffalo to 155 rushing yards, half of its own average.
Marshall tied it on Shane Ciucci's 21-yard field goal with 8:48 left in the third quarter, and that's where the score stood until Marks' touchdown.
Like Buffalo, Marshall wasn't at full strength. Leading rusher Brenden Knox, C-USA defensive player of the year Tavante Beckett and starting right tackle Josh Ball opted out of the game. Beckett was one of three defensive starters missing.
It was the first NCAA bowl game played on Christmas Day since 2003.
• Marshall: The offense went nowhere early but the defense withstood early scoring threats to keep the game tight. Punter Robert Lefevre helped out with fourth-quarter punts of 59 and 61 yards.
• Buffalo: Got zip out of two impressive drives to open the game. Alex McNulty missed a 34-yard field goal — falling to 0 of 3 on the season — and then the Bulls failed on a fourth-down try from the Marshall 25.
• Marshall: Wells returns after earning Conference USA freshman of the year honors to lead the offense. Most of the starting defenders return but Beckett was one of the program's top pass rushers.
• Buffalo: Patterson and Vantrease are only juniors so Buffalo could get them back for another season. But three offensive line starters and three starting receivers are seniors and so is defensive end Malcolm Koonce, a two-time All-MAC selection.