Bulls struggle against Central Florida
Last week, Jerry Davis said he was ready to lead his team.
His Saturday night performance told a different story.
Questionable play calling and the relentless defensive pressure of Central Florida forced the sophomore quarterback into mistakes throughout the game. Those mishaps proved costly as the Bulls (1-2) fell 24-10 to the UCF Knights (2-1) Saturday night at UB Stadium.
Bulls head coach Jeff Quinn admitted that both the coaches and players were at fault.
"They gave great effort but we need to get better," Quinn said. "It's not just on our players, but on me and our coaching staff."
The Knights used different blitz packages throughout the game, successfully preventing Davis and the Bulls offense from getting into any kind of rhythm.
Buffalo looked good at the outset of the game, establishing their rushing attack and outplaying UCF in most statistical categories; however, the Bulls struggled to get on the scoreboard.
Davis explained how it is only a matter of time before the offense clicks and starts to gel on the field.
"We know when we're all on the same page and locked in a rhythm, no one can beat us," Davis said. "We just came up short and didn't make enough plays."
After the first quarter ended on consecutive completions by Davis, the Knights' defense buckled down. The pressure at the line of scrimmage helped slow down freshman running back Branden Oliver, who fumbled twice in the game.
With the Bulls rushing attack struggling, Davis made a few poor decisions under pressure. On a UCF blitz, Davis attempted to throw a shovel pass, which was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by star defensive end Bruce Miller.
Davis was frustrated with the struggles on offense.
"Obviously, being the offense, you want to score a touchdown or you want to score some points," Davis said. "I thought the play calling was pretty good…Our defense played great all game but we have to respond to that and help them out by executing and putting points on the board."
The Bulls' defense was stellar in the first half and kept the game close.
While UCF held a 10-3 lead at halftime, the defense only let up three of those points despite the quickness displayed by freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey, who was given the start over junior Rob Calabrese.
Calabrese started the second half for UCF, but Buffalo did not seem to miss a beat. The Bulls forced three-straight three-and-outs, giving the offense numerous chances to get back in the game.
Davis used the opportunity and orchestrated a 14 play, 80-yard drive that ended in a touchdown throw to junior wide receiver Terrell Jackson. Junior wide receiver Marcus Rivers was instrumental on the touchdown drive and in the game. He finished with seven receptions for 102 yards to lead the team in receiving.
But fatigue caught up with the Bulls' defense toward the end of the third quarter. Godfrey returned to the game at quarterback and led the Knights on a 15 play, 90-yard drive that went into the fourth quarter. The drive culminated with a 14-yard touchdown by UCF running back Ronnie Weaver. Weaver ran right through the heart of the Buffalo defense and went untouched into the end zone.
The drive gave the momentum back to UCF, but the Bulls still had an opportunity to tie the score. With eight minutes left in the game, Buffalo ran the ball to the outside on 4th and 1, but sophomore running back Jeffvon Gill was stopped for a four-yard loss.
The Knights put the game away with another touchdown by Weaver with 3:55 left as the Bulls were unable to stop the run on the final two drives of the game.
"We're obviously disappointed," Quinn said. "It's certainly not what we expected tonight when we started this football game. I knew we had a real solid week of work, our kids were excited about playing this game and they continued to show me they care."
There was a scary moment for the Bulls at the end of the first half when junior right tackle Matt Ostrowski was carted off the field in an ambulance. He suffered a very serious lower leg injury and is expected to be out for the season.
The Bulls will put the 24-hour rule into effect and prepare for their next game at Connecticut (1-2) set to take place this Saturday at noon.
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