After a dominant win over Akron last week (2-6, 1-3 MAC), UB football (4-5, 2-3 MAC) lost a hard-fought battle to Bowling Green (3-6, 1-4 MAC), 56-44, at UB Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Saturday marked Bowling Green’s first Mid-American Conference victory in nearly two years.
UB hasn’t given up 56 points or more since Oct. 7, 2017, when it lost to Western Michigan, 71-68, in seven overtimes.
The loss is crushing to the Bulls’ MAC Championship hopes, but UB may still receive the opportunity to play in a bowl game if it can go at least 2-1 to close out the season.
“We still got a chance to do something special, go to a bowl game,” junior running back Dylan McDuffie said. “We’re going to take the 24-hour rule, take a couple of days off and then [go] back to work.”
The Bulls once again got off to a slow start and found themselves down 18 points at the half.
“My job is to find answers and solve problems. I’m going to stay in the problem solving business,” head coach Maurice Linguist said after the game. “One of them is being able to just start fast in the beginning of the game, to not put ourselves in a hole.”
The UB defense didn’t show the same rigidity it did last week against Akron, as bad angles and missed tackles allowed the Falcons to march down the field for seven touchdowns.
UB’s defense struggled to keep up with an eruptive Bowling Green offense, as it fell behind 14-0 after the first 15 minutes of play. A missed tackle by fifth-year safety E.J Brown gave the Falcons their first touchdown of the day. Not only did Brown miss the tackle, but he was also penalized for targeting and disqualified from the game.
A fake field goal by Bowling Green on fourth down allowed the Falcons to reset the downs. Later in the drive, redshirt freshman wide receiver Jhaylin Embry scored a one-yard rushing touchdown.
Bowling Green senior quarterback Matt McDonald was electric for the Falcons. He completed 13 of 19 passes for 263 yards and four passing touchdowns.
Junior tight end Chistian Sims and sophomore wide receiver Tyrone Broden combined for nine catches, 213 yards and four scores, marking the first time Bowling Green has had two receivers record 100 receiving yards in a game since 2015.
Junior kicker Alex McNulty drilled a 50-yard field goal in the second quarter to put the Bulls on the board. Minutes later, junior safety Jordan Anderson intercepted senior quarterback Kyle Vantrease and the Falcons went on a three-play scoring drive to extend their lead to 21-3.
Junior quarterback Matt Myers helped spark the Bulls’ offense in the second half after Vantrease was sidelined with an injury. While he only attempted 10 passes, Myers used his legs to help keep Bulls’ drives alive, notably rushing for two touchdowns to go along with his 12 rushing yards.
“It felt good to be back in a game setting,” said Myers, who began the 2019 season as the starting quarterback before suffering a lower body injury. “It’s unfortunate that [Vantrease] went down. We pray and hope he is going to be healthy and OK. Whatever my team needs me to do, I’ll do it.”
UB allowed six sacks during Saturday’s matchup. Prior to Saturday, the Bulls had only allowed four all season. Vantrease was injured on a sack with 1:32 left in the first half and did not return to the game. Myers entered in relief for Vantrease and was sacked four times. The Bulls had only allowed nine sacks during the 2019 and 2020 seasons, but have already given up 10 this season.
UB’s first touchdown of the day was a handoff to freshman running back Mike Washington, who scored his first career touchdown on a 14-yard trot in the second quarter.
The Falcons responded 30 seconds later, when McDonald connected on a 64-yard touchdown with sophomore wide receiver Tyrone Broden.
McDuffie helped spark the Bulls’ ground game. After multiple strong performances, McDuffie once again proved his ability to fill in for senior running back Kevin Marks Jr., who was sidelined with an injury. The Buffalo native rushed for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries. Both the carry total and rushing yards were career highs for McDuffie. He has now scored a touchdown in six of his last seven games and rushed for 100 yards in three consecutive contests.
“The offensive line blocked their butt off, the tight ends blocked their butt off, it was really just running behind their blocks and doing my part,” McDuffie said.
The Bulls capitalized on an unsportsmanlike conduct call at the start of the second half against Bowling Green when McDuffie scored a touchdown. During Buffalo’s 16-play scoring drive, BGSU was called for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, including one that resulted in Bowling Green head coach Scott Loeffler being ejected from the game.
Despite a valiant effort, UB was never able to take the lead. The teams combined for a total of seven touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The game was ultimately put out of reach when McDonald controversially ran for a 47-yard touchdown in the final minute.
Saturday’s matchup was a high-scoring affair, with the two teams combining for 100 points and over 1,000 yards of total offense.
“Giving up that amount of points and yards is not going to put us in a position that we need coming down the stretch,” Linguist said. “We’ll put it all on film, we’ll see where the errors and issues are, then we’ll make the corrections.”
The Bulls will seek redemption against Miami (OH) at Yager Stadium next Tuesday at 7 p.m. The game will be aired on ESPN2.
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