Bulls come up short against Army Black Nights
UB football loses to Army 17-7
Punters are unsung heroes in football. They spend more time being critiqued for their mistakes than praised for any successes.
But Army punter Nick Schrage was a hero in West Point, New York on Saturday.
The Buffalo Bulls (0-2) looked like they were going to upset the United States Military Academy for a second straight year, in a game where they were outmatched and regarded as 15 point underdogs. After taking a 17-7 lead into the fourth quarter, the Bulls eventually fell 21-17 to the Army Black Knights (2-0). Army senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw was the star of the game for the triple option offense and finished with 25 carries for 147 yards and a touchdown.
Following a fourth quarter rally from Army, Schrage put the final nail in the Bulls coffin. It was fourth down in their own territory for the Black Knights. There was just over two minutes left in the game and giving the ball back to Buffalo could have jeopardized the Black Knights four point lead. Schrage was back to punt, but it was a fake that he ran 13 yards to secure the first down and the game. Army kneeled the next three plays until the clock hit zero.
“We let opportunity get away from us,” said Bulls head coach Lance Leipold. “A couple turnovers and a couple penalties and just the whole momentum thing got away and hopefully you still have a chance to get the ball back and you don’t execute.”
Buffalo started the game strong and managed three plays of over 45 yards in the first 20 minutes of the game. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyree Jackson hit wide receiver Anthony Johnson for a 52 yard catch on the opening drive. The redshirt junior is now only two games into his UB career and already has 14 catches for 222 yards and touchdown. Buffalo capped the drive with a field goal.
Two possessions later, Jackson took a quarterback draw right up the middle and maneuvered around the Black Knights defense for 75 yards and found the end zone. The next possession redshirt freshman receiver Antonio Nunn completely burned his coverage and Jackson found him streaking down the center of the field. They connected for a 48 yard touchdown and gave the Bulls a 17-7 lead. The Bulls offense struggled the rest of the game
“I think just consistency, we went five plays in 2 different drives and scored two touchdowns,” Jackson said. “Then we go the whole second half without scoring so it’s just consistency really and helping our defense out, they played a great game, holding Army to 21 points that’s great, this is on the offense.”
The biggest mistake from the Bulls offense came following their second touchdown. The defense was able to shut Army down on the next possession and forced them to punt form their own end zone. Schrage completely botched the punt and only kicked it 24 yards giving Buffalo the ball on Army’s 32-yard line.
Buffalo looked primed to gain a tight hold on the game. But there was a miscommunication on the very next play from the Bulls. Jackson handed the ball off to sophomore Emmanuel Reed who fumbled it. Army recovered the ball and never looked back.
“You had a chance, especially with their offense, to maybe get them out of that a bit more if you go up three scores,” Leipold said. “We had a huge amount of momentum and we let it slip away.”
Buffalo had 83 yards after that possession with only 58 in all of the second half.
Army’s grinding style eventually started to pay dividends and junior Darnell Woolfolk found the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter. The touchdown came after a 16 play, 79 yard drive that ate up 8:12 of the game clock and most of the third quarter.
Army came out the next drive with another long possession. They held the ball for 13 plays and 7:21 of the game. Eventually capping the drive with another touchdown from Woolfolk to put the Black Knights up for good 21-17.
The Black Knights ran a total of 66 times in the game and amassed 322 yards.
The Bulls are back in action next Saturday when they host the Colgate Raiders (1-1) in their home opener. The game will kick off at 6 p.m. at UB Stadium.