Gridiron Report Card: UB Bulls defeat Kent State 18-17
Bulls pick up win late against Kent State
The football team (5-4, 3-2 Mid-American Conference) picked up its third straight conference victory with an 18-17 come-from-behind win over Kent State (3-6, 2-3 MAC). With the victory, the Bulls are just one win away from being bowl eligible for the third time since returning to Division I.
Here is your report card of the Buffalo performances.
Senior quarterback Joe Licata showed up when his team needed him the most.
Against a swarming Kent State defense, Licata finished with 190 yards on 25-of-39 passing, two touchdowns and one interception. His lone interception of the night was returned 69 yards to the end zone by Kent State cornerback Demetrius Monday for the Golden Flashes’ first touchdown.
But Licata saved his best for the end of the game. Late in the fourth quarter, Licata completed two touchdown drives to give the Bulls the 18-17 victory.
Running backs: B
With senior Anthone Taylor closer to 100 percent, he and junior running back Jordan Johnson split the carries. With split carries, the totals mirrored each other, as Johnson had 14 carries for 60 yards, while Taylor finished with 16 carries for 64 yards. The only difference between the two was that Johnson got the lone rushing a touchdown - a six-yard touchdown run - to give the Bulls their first touchdown of the game.
Wide receivers and tight ends: B+
What looked like a pedestrian performance for the first three quarters quickly changed entering the fourth.
Senior Marcus McGill led the Bulls with six receptions for 50 yards, but it was the play of senior tight end Weiser and senior wide receiver Ron Willoughby in the fourth quarter that increased the grade. Willoughby finished with just three catches for 42 yards, but he made a miraculous one-handed touchdown catch to cut the defecit.
Weiser, who tied McGill in both receptions and yards on the night, caught the eventual game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Offensive line: B
Despite Licata being pressured, the Buffalo offensive line held up well.
The Bulls allowed just two sacks and three tackles for losses with both of their starting guards - senior Dillon Guy and sophomore Brandon Manosalvas - out for the game with injuries.
The only issue was both sacks allowed were both late in the fourth quarter, where Licata and the Bulls looked to make a comeback drive. It was the second and third attempts where the offensive line tightened up and allowed Licata to drive the Bulls down the field.
Defensive line: B
In a game that showcased both team’s defenses, the defensive line of Buffalo matched Kent State’s defensive line wit for wit with their performance.
Freshman defensive end Charles Harris had a great game, finishing with two tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass defended. Sophomore defensive end Demone Harris made the biggest play for the Buffalo defensive line, grabbing an interception and taking it back 29 yards and gave Buffalo’s offense great field position.
The defensive tackles also played well, as junior defensive tackle Brandon Crawford finished with five tackles while Max Perisse had two tackles while containing a Kent State rushing attack to less than 130 rushing yards.
The linebackers – notably senior Okezie Alozie - continued their stellar play with a great all-around performance against the Golden Flashes.
Alozie lead all Buffalo defenders with 12 tackles, four tackles for losses and a sack. His biggest play of the night was a perfect third down pursuit to force a punt to begin Buffalo’s comeback.
Junior Brandon Berry was right behind with eight solo tackles on the night. Senior Nick Gilbo had a quiet night, finishing with three tackles, but played well in pass coverage.
The Bulls had a so-so performance in the secondary tonight. Senior cornerback Marqus Baker had five tackles, but gave up a couple plays he was being targeted. Junior cornerback Boise Ross had three tackles and played fine pass defense, until Kent State completed a rare touchdown pass - a 31-yarder.
Overall, the Bulls played well in the secondary, but had small mental lapses that could have prevented them from being in a comeback scenario in the first place.
Once again, head coach Lance Leipold earns a solid grade for simply getting his team prepared and making the right call.
The call on 4th and 19 was a good choice because regardless of result, the Bulls weren’t guaranteed to get the ball back. The offense was a tad conservative early sticking with the run game, but when it was time to make plays, the Bulls went with five receivers and attacked Kent State’s secondary.
Leipold trusted his senior quarterback late in the game for the second straight week and it paid dividends again.