Bulls buck Broncos
Defense shuts down Broncos en route to fourth straight win
Published: Saturday, October 12, 2013
Updated: Sunday, October 13, 2013 12:10
After the football team recorded nine turnovers over a three-game homestand, some were unsure if Buffalo would be able to duplicate its dominance on the road. This question was answered late in the second quarter – Western Michigan, trailing 6-0, drove 58 yards and had an opportunity to take the lead.
Senior cornerback Najja Johnson capitalized on a tipped pass to end the Broncos’ drive in the final minutes before the half. The Bulls carried the momentum into the second half when sophomore corner Marqus Baker intercepted Zach Terrell and senior linebacker Khalil Mack recorded a strip-sack the very next possession.
Both turnovers led to Buffalo scores as a part of its 17-point third quarter.
The Bulls (4-2, 2-0 Mid-American Conference) defeated Western Michigan (0-7, 0-3 MAC), 33-0 on Saturday afternoon. It is their first four-game win streak since 2008 and their first-ever road win against a MAC West opponent.
Senior running back Branden Oliver provided the majority of the Bulls’ offense in the first half, recording 116 yards on 18 carries. He ran the ball only once in the second half and finished with 128 yards. It was the 14th time Oliver went over the century mark in his career, and he took sole possession of first-place in school history for 100-yard games. He has the third-most 100-yard games among active NCAA players.
This game was more about the entire run game than just Oliver’s success. Junior running back James Potts had a season-high 91 rushing yards and sophomore running back Anthone Taylor and senior running back Brandon Murie combined for 55 rushing yards. The run game amassed 290 of Buffalo’s 424 yards.
“I thought our backs did a great job making people miss and breaking tackles,” said head coach Jeff Quinn. “Just how strong they ran today inspired our entire football team.”
Senior quarterback Joe Licata had 124 yards and three touchdowns to three different receivers. Licata became the first UB quarterback since Zach Maynard in 2009 to throw a touchdown in the first six games of the season.
With the Bulls struggling all season to find a second option behind senior receiver Alex Neutz, senior receiver Fred Lee had a big afternoon with 88 yards and a touchdown. Lee was the only Buffalo receiver with more than two catches.
“Freddy stepped up big time,” Licata said. “Alex isn’t going to be able to go for 200 yards a game every game and we need other people to step up and Fred did a good job of that today.”
Junior kicker Pat Clarke had two field goals, including a career-long 51-yard kick early in the third quarter.
Buffalo’s ‘D’ held the Broncos to just 202 yards and 2 of 12 on third downs. Senior defensive lineman Colby Way had three sacks to lead Buffalo, and Mack had two of the Bulls’ seven tackles for loss. The run defense contained Western Michigan, and the Broncos had just 38 yards on 26 carries.
Broncos freshman receiver Corey Davis continued his impressive start to the season with eight receptions for 92 yards.
“The shutout feels great, and it’s going to really help carry momentum into next week,” Way said.
The Bulls return to UB Stadium next week when they host Massachusetts (1-5, 1-1 MAC) and look to extend their win streak to five games. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.