Another one down
UB football loses their second quarterback, loses game 14-13
Buffalo’s quarterback situation hit dire straights Saturday.
Tyree Jackson hasn’t played since FAU and the redshirt sophomore’s status is still unclear. Junior Drew Anderson entered Saturday coming off two strong performances in his first two career starts for the Bulls. Anderson went down just before halftime forcing the Bulls to go even further down the depth chart for true freshman Kyle Vantrease.
The Buffalo Bulls (3-4, 1-2 Mid-American Conference) and Vantrease fought hard but the quarterback, seeing his first game action, couldn’t get it done and the Bulls fell 14-13 to the Northern Illinois Huskies (4-2, 2-0 MAC) at UB Stadium on Saturday. Redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Childers made the most impact for the Huskies with 303 total yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt junior receiver Anthony Johnson was the best performer for the Bulls and finished with seven catches for 140 yards. But the defenses were the stars in this game.
“To hold someone to 14 in this day and age of football is still a solid defensive performance,” said Bulls head coach Lance Leipold. “We struggled to get a lot of things consistently going through the game and that’s an excellent defense. Everyone we’ve talked to or seen, who [the Huskies have] played, that’s always been the word and they lived up to that today.”
The Huskies defense came into Saturday ranked first in the MAC in scoring defense, passing defense, rushing defense and total defense. They held the Bulls to 39 yards rushing, registered four sacks and also came down with an interception.
Anderson looked like he was starting to figure out the elite defense before his injury. He started 4-of-8 for 37 yards but completed nine of his last 10 throws for 154 yards and scored a touchdown. But he was carted from the field after a late first half sack with an apparent injury to his throwing shoulder.
Vantrease was forced to step up against powerhouse defense. He finished 8-of-16 for 153 yards with one interception.
“It was definitely a little different [than practice] but no excuses, all credit to them, they’re good, fast, strong, disciplined,” Vantrease said.
Vantrease and UB’s offense didn’t show in a second half that featured no scoring from either team. But the Bulls had a chance to take the lead early in the final period after entering the fourth quarter down 14-13.
Buffalo started on their own one-yard line, Vantrease dropped back and scrambled around in his own endzone before launching one deep. Johnson came down with the 47 yard grab. Buffalo went right back to the air two plays later. Vantrease launched another one 43 yards that redshirt freshman Antonio Nunn brought in.
The Huskies rallied back and forced two incomplete passes and got a sack to force the Bulls to kick a field goal. Junior kicker Adam Mitcheson set up from 34 yards out but couldn’t convert the go-ahead field goal and Buffalo never threatened again.
The Bulls have lost their last two games by a combined four points. All four losses this year have been by a combined 18 points. Buffalo lost six games by more than 18 points last season. Although the Bulls were able to keep it close with a third string quarterback, it’s clear that keeping it close doesn't matter to them anymore.
“We don't believe in moral victories,” said senior defensive end Demone Harris. “If our offense scores 13 points, we gotta find a way to hold the other team to 12 points. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters and we didn't do that today, we didn't get the job done.”
The Bulls defense held their opponent to 14 or less points for the third time this season. They struggled with defending the quarterback run but held Childers to a 2.9 yards per rush average. They held all other rushers to 138 yards and no touchdowns.
Junior linebacker Khalil Hodge led the defense for the Bulls and finished with 19 tackles, his fourth performance of 17 or more tackles this season. He leads the MAC and is second in the nation in tackles per game.
Junior cornerback Cameron Lewis recently returned to the lineup and is playing with a cast that engulfs his right hand. Lewis managed two forced fumbles, one of which came with the Huskies in the redzone. He also had five tackles including half a tackle-for-loss.
Leipold said after the game that Anderson’s status for next week is uncertain but “it doesn’t look very good.” With both Jackson and Anderson injured, Vantrease will be starting next week.
“As it stands as we walk out of here today, Kyle Vantrease is our starting quarterback, until I know what else is happening,” Leipold said.
The Bulls will head back on the road next Saturday as they face the Miami (OH) Redhawks (2-5, 1-2 MAC) at Yager Stadium. Kickoff is at 2:30 p.m.
Daniel Petruccelli is the Co-Senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org