Bulls' perfect season ends

Army defeats Buffalo 42-13 in front of fifth-largest crowd in program history

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Buffalo’s undefeated season came to an end Saturday.

The Bulls (4-1, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) lost 42-13 in front of the fifth-largest crowd in UB history. The 23,671 fans split toward the exits near the end of the third quarter as the Army Black Knights (3-2) opened up a 28-13 lead. It is the second-straight year that Buffalo has lost to Army.

Army controlled the ball for 37:34 while the Bulls only held it for 22:26.

“That's concerning,” said head coach Lance Leipold in a postgame press conference. “That's where things that were self-inflicted today and opportunities that we did not take advantage of become critical and disappointing, contribute to the outcome. Some composure and discipline issues when we had opportunities. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the head coach so I have to do a better job of that.”

The Bulls started the game similarly to its past four efforts. After receiving the opening kickoff, junior quarterback Tyree Jackson connected with junior wide receiver K.J. Osborn for 53 yards with 13:49 remaining in the first quarter.

The Black Knights ran the ball five times before throwing its first pass.  Senior safety Brandon Williams intercepted Army junior quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. The Bulls took over on Army’s 48 yard-line.

Buffalo made it to the 22 yard-line when junior Emmanuel Reed’s touchdown rush was called back on a holding penalty committed by junior offensive lineman Tomas Jack-Kurdyla.

The Bulls turned it over on downs and the Black Knights capitalized.

Army marched down to the UB 5 yard-line and rushed it in to tie 7-7.

The Black Knights would continue to make it 21 unanswered points for the rest of the half.

Buffalo drove 11 plays and 59 yards before being stuffed at the goal line. While attempting a 28-yard field goal, Army senior defensive lineman Wunmi Oyetuga blocked senior kicker Adam Mitcheson. Army junior defensive back Elijah Riley returned the ball 80 yards for the touchdown.

Mitcheson has struggled being consistent on field goals his whole career. Last season, he was 15 of 24 on field goals in 12 games. This season, the Bulls transitioned to a more aggressive style. Mitcheson has only attempted 2 field goals through five games this season as Leipold and offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki go for it on fourth downs instead.

Buffalo ended the first half down 21-7.

The Bulls had its worst offensive half of the season. Buffalo have averaged roughly 23 points in the first half this season.

Jackson went only 1-9 passing in the first quarter and 6-16 for the half. Jackson finished the game completing 42 percent for 152 yards and 1 touchdown. It was his worst performance of the season.

Senior wide receiver Anthony Johnson was dressed for the game but was not targeted. Leipold was quiet about Johnson’s injury status during Tuesday’s weekly press conference.

The Black Knights continued to pour it on in the second half.

After a three-and-out sequence to open the half, Army scored on its following three drives. 

In between, Buffalo scored on a one-yard rush by redshirt freshman Kevin Marks. Marks was injured later in the third quarter and did not return. Mitcheson missed the extra point to make it 21-13.

Army ran the ball 25 straight times before attempting to pass. Hopkins caught the Bulls off guard and completed a 25-yard pass over the middle to senior running back Jordan Asberry to put Buffalo away 28-13 in just the third quarter.

“It can be difficult at times,” said senior linebacker Khalil Hodge. “One of our main goals today was to just do our assignment. Regardless of how many times they run the ball, that one pass, if you do your assignment every play, you would be able to capitalize on it. It has a lot to do with the guys up front. If we weren't giving up so many yards to start maybe our safety would have had to feel like he needs to come down on that play.”

The Black Knights had nine players rush the ball. They finished with 64 rushes for 281 yards. Hodge was a machine with 20 total tackles and freshman linebacker James Patterson was second on the team with 11.

“It's all fun when you're winning games and we're winning seven straight, everyone is going to pat you on the back,” Jackson said. “The great thing about this is that it definitely is going to make us a better team.”

The Bulls head to Mount Pleasant, Michigan next weekend to take on the Central Michigan Chippewas (1-4, 0-1 MAC). The game kicks off at 12 p.m. and will be broadcasted nationally on CBS Sports Network.

Nathaniel Mendelson is the sports editor and can be reached at nathaniel.mendelson@ubspectrum.com or on Twitter @NateMendelson

NATHANIEL MENDELSON


 Nathaniel Mendelson has been writing for The Spectrum since 2018, mainly covering football, men's basketball and softball. He currently works for The Buffalo News and has a daily article on buffalobills.com. Other responsibilities include managing the office fish tank.