Game rewind: UB (1-4, 0-2 MAC) 31 - Ohio (6-0, 2-0 MAC) 38
Buffalo sophomore kicker Patrick Clarke (45) could not bring down Ohio's elusive return man, Daz'mond Patterson, in the first half. Patterson took the kickoff 100 yards to the house, a huge momentum-shifting play. Courtesy of Jason Chow / The Post
For the second straight week, the Bulls were dominant at times as a road underdog. For the second straight week, it didn't matter. Buffalo fell short to the undefeated Bobcats, who became the first team in the NCAA to become bowl-eligible.
UB's run game was especially effective. For the second straight game, a running back other than injured junior back Branden Oliver rushed for over 100 yards. It was the freshman's turn on Saturday, as Devin Campbell made his career debut as a starter memorable.
He rushed for 160 yards on 30 carries with a score.
Junior quarterback Alex Zordich continued to be one of the best running quarterbacks in the Mid-American Conference, as he ran for 110 yards. He struggled at times with his accuracy in the passing game, completing only 13 of 25 passes. He was briefly replaced by freshman Joe Licata, who finished 5 for 10 for 36 yards.
On defense, the Bulls held powerful running back Beau Blankenship and dominant quarterback Tyler Tettleton in check. Blankenship finished the day with fewer than 100 yards rushing for the first time this season. Tettleton struggled with his consistency, as he had a completion percentage under 50 percent. He came into the game without an interception - a streak that ended quickly when junior cornerback Najja Johnson picked off a pass, his second of the season, in the first quarter.
However, the Bulls were victimized in the turnover and special teams departments once again. Buffalo coughed up the ball three times, two of which were converted into Ohio scores. UB also struggled with covering kickoffs, as Ohio's Daz'mond Patterson returned a kick 100 yards for a score.
Player of the Game
What a debut for Campbell. In his first career start, he surprised many with a 160-yard performance on the ground. It was a welcome surprise, considering the Bulls were without their top three options at the tailback position: Oliver, sophomore James Potts and junior Brandon Murie.
As easy as it would be to say the Bulls shot themselves in the foot with all of the turnovers, this honor goes the Ohio defense. Although the Bobcats gave up chunks of yards on the run, they really buckled down and came up with big stops when they needed to. Linebacker Keith Moore, one of three defenders with double-digit tackles, led the team with 16 tackles. Three Bobcats forced fumbles on the afternoon.
Peden Stadium was silent after the Buffalo touchdown that made it 14-0. Patterson put an end to all of that, as his 100-yard kick return for a touchdown put a jolt into the Bobcat faithful. Momentum shifted dramatically, as the next six drives for the Bulls went punt, fumble by junior wide receiver Alex Neutz, fumble by Zordich, punt, fumble off the leg of Derek Brim and punt. In that time, a 14-7 lead turned into a 24-14 deficit.
He said it
"We came out hot, 14-0, our special teams has to do a better job, giving up that 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. We can't allow that. We just gotta keep on pounding it and taking on the lead."
- Junior cornerback Najja Johnson
The Bulls end their grueling three-game road stretch with a trip to Dekalb, Ill. to take on Northern Illinois. The Huskies, last year's Mid-American Conference champions, have one of the most potent offenses in the MAC, averaging 35.5 points per game. They are the only team in the conference better than the Bulls in rushing, as they are the top dogs at 245.7 yards per game.
They are led on the ground by Jordan Lynch, who is one of the leaders in the MAC in rushing with 789 yards and nine scores, which is the best mark in the conference.
Last year's game between Buffalo and Northern Illinois was a thriller at UB Stadium, as the Bulls almost came back from a 31-10 deficit with three fourth-quarter touchdowns. However, after the final score put the Bulls within one at 31-30 with 14 seconds left, former placekicker Peter Fardon missed the extra point. The Huskies escaped Buffalo with the victory.
Kickoff for this year's game will be at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
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