Bulls squeak out five-OT win against FCS opponent
Buffalo blows late lead, overcomes errors to win
Published: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Updated: Saturday, September 14, 2013 21:09
In the fourth overtime period on Saturday, as the football team was tied with Stony Brook (1-1), the Seawolves lined up to kick a game-winning 37-yard field goal. Sophomore quarterback Joe Licata looked up to the sky for a sign that Buffalo would win the game.
It was cloudless, except for one clour in the back corner of the end zone – which he said looked like a Nike swoosh.
“When I saw that, I knew we were going to win the game,” Licata said. “I’m not kidding. I wish I could make that up.”
The Bulls (1-2) pulled off a shoestring, 26-23 win on Saturday afternoon over FCS opponent Stony Brook in five overtimes.
“It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t perfect, but it was complete,” said head coach Jeff Quinn.
After starting the season against two nationally ranked opponents on the road, the Bulls expected to have an easier go of it against the Seawolves. But Stony Brook didn’t get the memo and fought the Bulls tough. The two teams played the longest game in UB history.
In front 24,013 people – the third-largest crowd in UB Stadium history – the Bulls blew multiple chances to win the game in regulation, including junior kicker Patrick Clarke’s missing his second field goal of the day, from 34 yards late in the fourth.
The offense scored only three points in the first half and Buffalo’s only touchdown in regulation came on a short field after Stony Brook muffed a punt. Freshman tight end Mason Schreck then completed a trick play pass to sophomore running back Devin Campbell to put the Bulls inside Stony Brook’s 5-yard line.
Buffalo held a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter before Stony Brook broke through for its first points of the game, first with a field goal and then with a last-minute touchdown to force the game into overtime.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock in regulation, the remaining fans poured boos onto the field.
After four boring quarters of football, overtime was sloppy.
On consecutive series, the Bulls turned the balled over – once on a botched handoff from Licata to sophomore running back Anthone Taylor, which Stony Brook recovered, and once on an interception. Buffalo twice came within a Stony Brook made field goal of losing the game.
But in the fifth overtime, with Stony Brook leading by three, Licata found senior tight end Alex Dennison for a 19-yard reception that put Buffalo at Stony Brook’s 6-yard line. On the very next play, Taylor found the end zone to give the Bulls a three-point victory. The rest of the team stormed the field to celebrate.
“I came up over to Joe [Licata], and I told him we had to make up for it if we had the chance, and that’s what we tried to do, and we came out with the victory,” Taylor said.
Taylor led the Bulls statistically, rushing 24 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns – all career highs – while Licata went 27 for 48 for 193 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Senior wide receiver Alex Neutz didn’t have as many yards as he did against Ohio State (2-0) or Baylor, but he still had 10 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. His counterpart, senior wide receiver Fred Lee, had a career-high seven catches for 61 yards.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Quinn said. “Without a doubt. I’m not pleased in a couple of the areas. One, in terms of taking care of the ball. Two, in terms of making the right choices in critical times, but the defense came up big.”
The defense was suffocating for most of the game on Saturday, even though senior linebacker Khalil Mack wasn’t as dominant as he has been. Mack finished with 10 tackles, 1.5 for a loss, a break up and a quarterback hit.
It was two other seniors, linebacker Adam Redden and safety Okoye Houston, who starred for the defense. Redden finished with 17 tackles, two for a loss, and Houston finished with 14 tackles, a powerful sack and two tackles for loss.
Senior defensive end Colby Way was another top contributor with six tackles and a sack.
The Bulls have a bye next week and will continue their schedule against Connecticut on Sept. 28. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.