He’s back: Tyree Jackson returns but UB loses 21-20
Tyree Jackson is back under center for the Bulls.
The redshirt sophomore quarterback missed the last four games after going down with a knee injury against Florida Atlantic University. But the Buffalo Bulls (3-6, 1-4 Mid-American Conference) lost 21-20 to the Akron Zips (5-4, 4-1 MAC).
Jackson set a career high in passing yards in his first game back and went 34-of-50 for 313 yards. The run game improved with redshirt sophomore running back Emmanuel Reed racking up 116 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.
The Bulls had a chance to take the lead with under two minutes in the game. They drove 41 yards in eight plays to get to the Akron 33-yard line. But the next three plays resulted in only four yards. Junior kicker Adam Mitcheson came out for the 46-yard field goal attempt but was unable to convert.
“We had some opportunities in the fourth when we were driving the ball a little bit then [Akron] made some plays,” said Bulls head coach Lance Leipold. “The field goal was within the distance that Adam gave but he pulled it and it’s unfortunate.”
The offense had their second best yardage output of the season in a regulation length game. Senior receiver Kamathi Holsey led the Bulls in receiving for the second straight week with seven catches for 100 yards. Junior receiver Anthony Johnson had six catches for 61 yards.
Buffalo chose to not have Jackson run like in the beginning of the season and he only registered one rush attempt in the game. His only sign of rust came on a second quarter interception. The Bulls were on Akron’s three-yard line. Jackson had a high tendency to run in the redzone earlier this year, but instead the Bulls passed three times and the third pass was picked off.
After the game, Jackson talked about his performance in his first game back on the field.
“I’m fine, I trusted in God and the coaches that everything would be alright. The training staff did a great job and I feel alright,” Jackson said. “We don’t really care too much about statistics or whatever we just wanna win the game.”
Reed pointed out how helpful it was to have Jackson back on the field even if the results didn’t show it.
“It’s always a great feeling having Tyree back,” Reed said. “Your confidence just goes to an ultra high level playing with him because he’s such a great player and we just wanted to protect him.”
This is the the fourth game this year the Bulls have lost by less than four points. It is the second game they’ve lost by one point.
Leipold said he was proud of his team’s effort and that it’s on him to help them convert close games into wins.
“We know we’ve closed the gaps on some things,” Leipold said. “But it’s my responsibility to find a way to get that gap completely closed and get those turned into wins and I’m not getting that done right now.”
The run defense had their best game of the season and held their opponent under 100 yards, something Buffalo hasn’t done in two years. The team also combined for three tackles-for-loss.
Senior safety Tim Roberts came up with the biggest play of the game when the Bulls were up 20-14 early in the fourth quarter. Woodson threw to the end zone but Roberts came away with the pick on the one-yard line. But the Bulls were forced to punt on the next possession and the Zips capitalized on the opportunity and scored the game winning touchdown.
But the pass defense struggled. Saturday was the second time this year the Bulls have given up more than one passing touchdown in a game. Akron’s senior quarterback Thomas Woodson completed 72 percent of his passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns.
Buffalo returns home Tuesday Nov. 7 after a nine-day layoff when they host the Bowling Green Falcons (1-7, 1-3 MAC) at UB Stadium. They will need to win their final three games if they want to become bowl eligible this season.
Daniel Petruccelli is a co-senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org