UB Bulls lose 36-35 in Bowling Green
Buffalo's late field goal miss contributes to loss against reigning MAC champions
With three minutes remaining in the football team’s game at Bowling Green Saturday, senior kicker Patrick Clarke set up to take a 33-yard field goal that would have given Buffalo an eight-point lead.
Clarke’s attempt sailed wide right, and Bowling Green scored the game-winning touchdown 40 seconds later on a four-play, 80-yard drive, giving the Bulls (3-3, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) a 36-35 loss.
Bowling Green (4-2, 2-0 MAC) defeated the Bulls Saturday at Doyt Perry Stadium to move to first place in the MAC East in front of an announced crowd of 17,185. It was Buffalo’s second road game of the season.
“We put ourselves in position and weren’t able to capitalize on it. [Clarke has] been big for us and it’s disappointing he wasn’t able to come through,” said head coach Jeff Quinn. “No excuses. We had a chance and weren’t able to complete the mission.”
Both teams combined for 876 yards in the game and scored 48 combined points in the first half before both defenses seemed to improve after halftime. The Falcons outscored Buffalo 16-7 in the second half.
The Bulls had an opportunity to take back the lead after Bowling Green’s sophomore running back Fred Coppet’s game-winning 4-yard touchdown run.
Junior running back Devin Campbell returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to the Bowling Green 48-yard line. The Bulls failed to convert a fourth-and-8 on the Falcons’ 46-yard line. Bowling Green ran out the clock for the remaining 88 seconds.
Licata’s pass on fourth down was intended for junior wide receiver Marcus McGill, who was covered by three Bowling Green defenders. Bowling Green freshman defensive back Nilijah Ballew broke up Licata’s final pass.
Licata was under pressure on the play and he said he could not “set his feet.” Licata also overthrew junior wide receiver Ron Willoughby on third down the play before. Willoughby was open on the right sideline for what would have been a first down.
“My thing is to be able to move out the pocket and make a throw and I got lazy with my feet on that play,” Licata said. “I didn’t deliver the ball [and] didn’t find a lane to throw. That’s my job. I’m the guy that’s supposed to finds lanes in the pocket and delivers the ball under pressure and I need to be able to do that.”
Buffalo took a 35-30 lead after junior running back Anthone Taylor ran for a 12-yard touchdown – his third of the game – with 12:36 remaining in the fourth quarter. A mistake by Bowling Green’s field goal unit set up the touchdown drive.
The Falcons’ junior kicker Tyler Tate made a 40-yard field goal that would have given Bowling Green a 33-28 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Falcons did not get the snap off in time, however, resulting in a 5-yard delay of game penalty. Buffalo senior defensive lineman Dalton Barksdale then blocked Tate’s 45-yard field goal attempt. Taylor scored nine plays later.
The Bulls’ defense forced the Falcons to a punt on the next drive, and Taylor ran for 65 total yards on the next possession to get Buffalo down to the Bowling Green 16-yard line. Clarke then missed his 33-yard field goal.
The Bulls led 28-20 after a first half that included five lead changes, and only two drives that did not end in a turnover or a score – a Bulls punt on their second drive of the game and a kneel down to end the half.
Buffalo took a 28-17 lead with 2:02 left in the first half after a sequence of three straight possessions that ended in a turnover.
Buffalo led 21-17 in the second quarter after an 8-yard touchdown run by Taylor. Senior safety Adam Redden forced a fumble on Bowling Green’s wide receiver Ronnie Moore on the ensuing kickoff return, and Buffalo senior linebacker Jake Stockman recovered it.
Licata was intercepted two plays later with Buffalo on the Falcons’ 6-yard line.
The Bulls got the ball back three plays later, however, when sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Crawford strip-sacked Bowling Green sophomore quarterback James Knapke. Taylor scored a 1-yard touchdown seven plays later to give the Bulls a 28-17 lead.
After putting up 208 yards and 28 points in the first half, Buffalo did not continue its offensive success in the second half.
The Bulls had three “3-and-out” drives in the third quarter, and another drive – which started on the 50-yard line after sophomore cornerback Boise Ross intercepted Knapke – that ended in a punt. It was Buffalo’s first interception of the season.
After going 10 of 11 passing for 119 yards and a touchdown in the first half, Licata completed six of 13 passes for just 15 yards in the second half. It was the first game this season that a Buffalo receiver did not finish with at least 72 receiving yards. McGill had a team-high 41 receiving yards.
Taylor ran 36 times for 219 yards and three touchdowns – making him the first player in program history to run for more than 200 yards in two straight games. He ran for 111 yards on 11 carries in the fourth quarter alone.
Only two drives in the game lasted longer than four minutes – Buffalo’s game opening 15-play touchdown drive and the possession that ended in Clarke’s 33-yard field goal miss. That drive lasted 4:22.
The Falcons ran a quick tempo offense, running 76 plays in just 21:52. Buffalo ran 71 plays in 38:08.
Bowling Green’s seven scoring drives lasted an average of 1:57. Quinn said Bowling Green’s quick tempo offense was not “the biggest difference in the game,” and noted the Bulls missed several tackles and it is an area the team needs to correct.
Bowling Green defeated Buffalo 24-7 last season at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Nov. 29, 2013 in what was essentially a MAC East Championship game.
“It's something that we talked about since they beat us last year, was getting our second chance,” Licata said. “When I looked at the schedule the first game I looked at was Oct. 4. That’s what I was looking for all season and we came up short today.”
Redden said the Bulls cannot “let one game dictate the season.”
“It was definitely a tough loss but this can’t be the turning point to turmoil,” Redden said. “It has to be the turning point to glory and more victories down the road. As a senior ... my feedback to [my teammates] is definitely don’t let this be a turning point for the worst. Lets build off of it.”
The Bulls play at Eastern Michigan (0-4, 0-1 MAC) next Saturday in what will be their final game before the bye week. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.