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Wednesday, October 27, 2021
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Strong effort by UB not enough to beat Coastal Carolina

UB fell to the 16th-ranked Chanticleers, 28-25, at UB Stadium

Despite a valiant effort against one of the top teams in the nation, Coastal Carolina’s highly efficient multiple offense scheme proved to be too much for the Bulls on Saturday.
Despite a valiant effort against one of the top teams in the nation, Coastal Carolina’s highly efficient multiple offense scheme proved to be too much for the Bulls on Saturday.

After a 28-3 loss to Big Ten foe Nebraska last week, UB football (1-2) faced another strong opponent in 16th-ranked Coastal Carolina (3-0) Saturday afternoon.

The Chanticleers — the first Associated Press Top 25 team UB has hosted since No. 8 Baylor in 2014 — defeated the Bulls 28-25 in front of a recorded 16,739 people at UB Stadium.

Despite a valiant effort against one of the top teams in the nation, Coastal Carolina’s highly efficient multiple offense scheme proved to be too much for the Bulls.

Considering UB played two superior programs in Nebraska and Coastal Carolina in back-to-back weeks, head coach Maurice Linguist said he was proud of his team’s effort against the Chanticleers.

“The game was back and forth, I think our players battled,” Linguist said in the post-game press conference. “I think we’re gonna watch this film and look and say, ‘Hey, this play could have went this way or we could have done this a little bit better,’ but in close games, they’re not always going to be pretty and perfect. You’ve just got to play a complete game and respond to the next situation. I think our players did that.”

UB stuck to its run-heavy identity on offense, with three running backs — senior Kevin Marks Jr. and juniors Dylan McDuffie and Ron Cook Jr. — all getting significant work on the ground. McDuffie and Marks rushed for a pair of touchdowns while Cook rushed for 83 yards — including a 61-yard scamper after recovering a Marks fumble.

Junior quarterback Matt Myers — who was replaced by senior quarterback Kyle Vantrease following an upper-body injury in 2019 — added a 13-yard touchdown out of a designed red zone package.

“We made it a big emphasis to run the ball this week. [I’m] not gonna say we accomplished our goal, but we had an emphasis to run that football and we did,” Linguist said.

Vantrease passed for 146 yards and completed 13 out of 20 pass attempts. Fifth-year senior wide receiver Dominic Johnson caught six passes for 66 yards, including multiple third-down conversions for the Bulls. 

Senior wide receiver Quian Williams was relatively quiet in contrast to his previous performances against Wagner and Nebraska, but the Eastern Michigan transfer scored on a two-point conversion to bring UB within three points with 2:41 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Entering Saturday’s contest as the national leader in passing completion percentage (82.5%) and passing efficiency (213.7) through two games, CCU quarterback Grayson McCall    played another well-rounded game for the Chants. The redshirt sophomore passed for 232 yards and three touchdowns while also leading Coastal’s triple-option offense on the ground.

CCU senior running back Shermari Jones rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown while senior wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh caught four passes for 94 yards and a score. Senior tight end Isaiah Likely and sophomore wide receiver Aaron Bedgood also found the end zone for the Chants.

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On defense, senior defensive end Taylor Riggins shined for the Bulls. The Webster, NY native recorded 10 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles (neither of which the Bulls were able to recover). Senior linebacker James Patterson and fifth-year senior safety E.J. Brown also turned in strong performances with 11 and 10 tackles respectively. Sophomore cornerback Logic Hudgens also provided UB with a spark with an interception in the fourth quarter.

While the result may be disappointing, the Bulls rose to the challenge of playing against the 16th-ranked team in the country, something they can build on in the future.

“It shows that we really can play with anybody in the country,” Patterson, whose brother Jaret was in attendance, said. “Just to come up that short by three points, it hurts a little bit more than last week where we shot ourselves in the foot. We still shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times, but this time we really minimized it and were fighting and holding our own and playing with them.”

 

The Bulls continue to pound the rock

To the surprise of no one, UB stuck to its run-heavy identity on offense against the Chanticleers. The Bulls rushed for 262 yards on 47 attempts, with senior running Kevin Marks Jr. and juniors Dylan McDuffie and Ron Cook Jr. all putting in significant work on the ground.

Marks turned in 64 yards and a touchdown while McDuffie led UB with 92 yards and a score. Cook rushed for 83 yards — including a 61-yard scamper after recovering a Marks fumble.

Junior quarterback Matt Myers was utilized in a designed red zone package and even punched in a 13-yard touchdown for UB in the first quarter. Myers — who was replaced by senior quarterback Kyle Vantrease following an upper-body injury in 2019 — provided the Bulls with an unexpected spark in the red zone and added another threat to UB’s layered rushing attack.

UB didn’t do enough to secure the win, but the Bulls put together an impressive performance on the ground against Coastal.

UB struggles to contain Coastal’s playmakers

The Bulls were torched by big plays against Nebraska two weeks ago, and while UB was far more competitive against Coastal, the Chanticleers were still able to break off significant gains against the UB defense.

Entering Saturday’s contest as the national leader in passing completion percentage (82.5%) and passing efficiency (213.7) through two games, CCU quarterback Grayson McCall played another well-rounded game for the Chants. The redshirt sophomore passed for 232 yards and three touchdowns while also leading Coastal’s triple-option offense on the ground.

Senior running back Shermari Jones rushed for 149 yards, including a 50-yard run at the start of the second half to set up a CCU touchdown. Jones was effective as the pitch man in the triple option, often maneuvering around UB’s defensive ends and darting up the sideline for big gains.

And when Coastal didn’t run the option, McCall hit senior wide receivers Jaivon Heiligh and Kameron Brown through the air. 

Heiligh caught four passes for 91 yards and a score while Brown hauled in three passes for 79 yards. Heiligh beat sophomore cornerback Logic Hudgens for a 17-yard touchdown in the second corner and Brown was able to rip off a 58-yard gain in the fourth.

Big plays didn’t hinder UB as drastically as they did against Nebraska, but the Bulls still had trouble with the explosive playmakers of the opposition.

Taylor Riggins’ dominant performance

After missing the entire 2020 season with an injury, fifth-year defensive end Taylor Riggins has made an instant impact for the Bulls.

The Webster, NY native racked up seven tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and three tackles for loss against the Chanticleers Saturday. 

Riggins was in the Chants backfield all afternoon, constantly disrupting plays and wreaking havoc for UB.

A 2019 All-MAC first-team selection, Riggins’ performance against CCU is a return to form for a player who ranked second in the conference in sacks (8.5) two years ago.

The Bulls proved they can play with the best

While the result may have been disappointing, the Bulls rose to the challenge of playing against the 16th-ranked team in the country, something they can build on in the future.

“It shows that we really can play with anybody in the country,” senior linebacker James Patterson, whose brother Jaret was in attendance, said. “Just to come up that short by three points, it hurts a little bit more than last week where we shot ourselves in the foot. We still shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times, but this time we really minimized it and were fighting and holding our own and playing with them.”

After losing to Nebraska by 25 points last week, UB responded with a much better performance against one of college football’s elite teams.

Linguist insists there are no moral victories, but the growth the Bulls showed in one week is significant.

Not only did the players match the physicality and will of Coastal, but Linguist (minus a couple of mistakes) proved he can coach at a high level. The 37-year-old rose to the challenge of coaching against 2020 AP Coach of the Year Jamey Chadwell in just his third game as a head coach.

The Bulls proved they can play with the best. Now, it’s about becoming a more polished product and responding to adversity as the calendar turns to MAC play.

“We did not run out of gas, we probably just ran out of time,” Linguist said. “And our guys could have continued to play, they’re disappointed, which you should be. But we will persevere. We will respond and we will bounce back. I believe we have a championship-caliber team in our locker room.”

The Bulls will travel to Norfolk, VA to take on the Old Dominion Monarchs Saturday night at 6 p.m. The game will be aired on ESPN+.

Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor and can be reached at anthony.decicco@ubspectrum.com and @DeCicco42 on Twitter


ANTHONY DECICCO
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Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor for The Spectrum. In his free time, he can be found playing video games, watching ‘90s Knicks games and arguing with people on NBA Twitter at 3 a.m. 

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