Freshman falls short: UB football falls to the Miami (OH) RedHawks 24-14
Saturday marked the third different quarterback to start a game for the Bulls this season. Kyle Vantrease came to Buffalo this past spring and was supposed to redshirt the year, but when both the Bulls’ starting and backup quarterbacks got injured, he was forced to forego his redshirt status and make his first start on Saturday.
Vantrease and the Buffalo Bulls (3-5, 1-3 Mid-American Conference) went on the road this week to face the Miami RedHawks (3-5, 2-2 MAC). Buffalo lost 24-14 at Yager Stadium. Vantrease finished 17-of-41 for 202 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Junior running back Kenny Young led the way for the RedHawks and finished with 125 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.
“[Vanrease] competed hard, he didn’t seem to ever get rattled,” said Bulls head coach Lance Leipold. “On the other side I think he played a little bit like a freshman at times, but he hung in there and did some good things and never seem to be flustered or confused about what was happening, and Jim Zebrowski did a good job with him on the sideline…We’ve got to keep moving forward and I know Kyle is going to learn a lot from this game and we’ll be better from it.”
The Bulls struggled in this game and failed to get much going offensively. Buffalo punted on their first three drives. The three drives consisted of 17 plays for 45 yards. The team totaled 271 yards in the game, their second lowest offensive output of the season. Fourteen points is their third lowest score of the season.
The run game failed to reach 100 yards for the fourth time this season. They have lost all four of those games. Redshirt sophomore running back Emmanuel Reed finished with 56 yards in the game.
“We prepared for them really well,” Vantrease said. “I thought the game plan was really good, we just didn’t execute on some key plays throughout the game. It’s a game of inches and comes down to the little things that become big things.”
Vantrease found the end zone for the first time in his career when he connected with Anthony Johnson on an 8-yard touchdown. The only other points for the Bulls came with three minutes left in the game.
Vantrease connected with sophomore tight end Tyler Mabry on an 11-yard score. It put the Bulls within 10 and they kicked an onside kick on the following play. Buffalo was able to recover, but failed to produce a first down on the possession. The RedHawks kneeled three times on the following drive to run out the clock and end the game.
“Disappointing is a good way to say it, [we] didn’t play very well, not very clean, not very smooth,” Leipold said. “Unfortunately today we didn’t do a very good job and that comes back to me…We battled till the very end and we had possessions but never really fully got into any rhythm offensively today.”
The defense got burned on a 57-yard reception to open the game, but then they managed to hold the RedHawks to three yards on three plays and force a field goal. Miami came back out on the next possession and marched 61 yards in five plays. They finished the drive with Young’s first touchdown of the day. Young averaged 6.9 yards per carry, but Buffalo was able to hold the RedHawks to four yards per carry as a team.
Miami is also dealing with injuries at the starting quarterback position. Junior Gus Ragland hasn’t played in two weeks. Ragland became the starter in game seven of last season when he took over for junior Billy Bahl. Because of Ragland’s injury, Bahl has taken back the reigns of the offense for the last two weeks.
Bahl finished 13-of-20 for 177 yards on the day. This is the fourth time Buffalo has held a quarterback under 200 passing yards in a game.
“We knew the circumstance coming in but our game plan was still the same,” said junior linebacker Khalil Hodge. “We still expected to win this game and the defense wasn’t able to hold them off. We didn’t do enough at the end of the day, so if we’re not doing enough of course we’re going to be disappointed.”
Hodge finished the game with 14 tackles. He has double digit tackles in all but one game this season and is currently tied for first in the nation in tackles.
Buffalo is back on the road again next week when they face the Akron Zips (4-4, 3-1 MAC). Kickoff is at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday Oct. 28.
Daniel Petruccelli is the co-Senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org