Bulls Extend Losing Streak
This season has been like a broken record for the football team – the defense plays well enough to win, but the offense can't get the job done.
The Bulls (2-6, 1-3 Mid-American Conference) made things happen down the stretch but ultimately fell to Miami (Ohio) (5-4, 4-1 MAC), 21-9. The defense was able to limit the RedHawks' strong passing, but the offense couldn't overcome a slow start, which has become a trend for the Bulls.
Following defeat, Buffalo is now on a three-game losing streak.
"Another disappointing loss," said head coach Jeff Quinn. "We didn't play well enough to win, we didn't make the plays when we needed to make the plays… These are tough times, but we'll fight through it."
It's hard to win while constantly playing from behind, and after Saturday, the Bulls have been outscored by a total of 61-3 in the first quarter this season.
The combination of a stagnant offense, poor punting, and one big turnover led to favorable field position early on for the RedHawks. Miami's redshirt sophomore quarterback Zac Dysert and freshman wide receiver Nick Harwell took full advantage.
With just over seven minutes left in the first quarter, Dysert hit Harwell on a five-yard slant route for a touchdown, giving the RedHawks an early 7-0 lead.
The turning point in the game, however, came late in the second half. Bulls freshman quarterback Alex Zordich fumbled the ball while trying to extend a play to convert on third-and-long. The RedHawks recovered the fumble near midfield with just over two minutes left in the half.
A couple of plays later, Dysert threw a pass to the back of the end zone, giving Harwell a chance to make a play. Harwell reeled it in with one hand for a 29-yard touchdown with 22 seconds left in the half, extending Miami's lead to 14.
On the following kickoff, Buffalo junior wide receiver Ed Young fielded a squib kick and appeared to take it 68 yards to the house, giving the Bulls life before halftime. But a booth review overturned the call on the field, ruling that Young stepped out of bounds and nullifying the touchdown.
"I'm not usually one that's lost for words, but this is hard to put in words, in terms of what we're experiencing right now," Quinn said.
In his second career start, Zordich was able to lead the Bulls offense into threatening situations in the second half, but the deficit was too much to overcome.
Down 14-3 in the third quarter, Zordich and the Bulls offense capitalized off of a nine-yard punt by the RedHawks. After taking over inside Miami territory, Zordich finished off the drive by running it in for a touchdown from 12 yards out. A missed extra point by senior kicker A.J. Principe left the Bulls trailing 14-9.
The pass-happy RedHawks answered with their first rushing touchdown in the last four games, and the Miami lead increased to 21-9 in the fourth quarter.
When it looked as though the Bulls were done, the defense stepped up and made one more big play. Senior safety Domonic Cook intercepted a Dysert pass in Miami territory with seven minutes to go.
Zordich led the Bulls inside the 15-yard line, but the poor play of his offensive line stifled the drive. On a 4th-and-10, Zordich was swarmed by the Miami pass rush and was unable to get a throw off, taking his fifth sack of the day.
"[The RedHawks] did a good job today bringing some pressure," Zordich said. "There are no excuses, though. We just have to keep with our assignments and just work for what we know we can do. We'll get this thing going."
Despite the loss, Zordich gave the Bulls offense a breath of fresh air in the second half. He completed 16 of 33 pass attempts for 210 yards and didn't throw an interception. Quinn was impressed with the development of his freshman quarterback.
"We saw some things out of our quarterback situation," Quinn said. "I think we can pretty much see him continue developing and continue leading this offense. He's a very knowledgeable young man."
Senior kicker John Rachuna made a 52-yard field goal in the third quarter, the longest of his career. The kick was the longest in the MAC era for the Bulls.
Cook's interception in the fourth quarter was his sixth of the season, which is tied for the most in college football. It also marks the fifth straight game in which he has been involved in a turnover.
This week, the Bulls will travel to Athens, Ohio for a Thursday night game against the Ohio Bobcats. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., and the game can be seen on ESPNU.