With first place in the MAC East on the line, UB (5-4, 4-1 MAC) fell to Ohio (6-3, 4-1 MAC) at Peden Stadium Tuesday night, 45-24. UB came in with a 5-3 record, riding a five-game win streak. The Bulls’ 4-0 record in the MAC had them ahead of Ohio by one game. With the loss, they are now 4-1 and have dropped to No. 2 in the MAC East standings, with Ohio claiming the No. 1 spot.
The night began poorly for a UB offense that ranked third in the MAC with 30.9 points per game. The Bulls went three-and-out on their first two drives and punted the ball to an Ohio offense averaging 32 points.
The Bobcats went 70 yards on five plays on their first drive, capped off by a touchdown pass from redshirt junior Kurtis Rourke to graduate wide receiver Sam Wiglusz.
Ohio marched down the field on its next drive but settled for a 37-yard field goal to go up 10-0.
UB began its third drive looking to bring the game back within one possession. But on 3rd & 14, junior quarterback Cole Snyder threw across his body to the right sideline for an interception by Ohio graduate safety Tariq Drake.
Ohio took advantage of the turnover, with Rourke finding junior wide receiver Jacoby Jones in the endzone on the ensuing drive to give the Bobcats a commanding 17-0 lead as the first quarter expired.
UB began the second quarter with its first successful drive of the game. Completions to graduate wide receiver Justin Marshall and senior running back Ron Cook Jr., with the help of an Ohio unnecessary roughness penalty against graduate cornerback Zack Sanders, got the Bulls into field goal range. A field goal courtesy of senior kicker Alex McNulty put the Bulls on the board and cut Ohio’s lead to 14.
In the final four minutes of the first half, Rourke connected with Wiglusz for a 49-yard catch-and-run. Rourke then found Wiglusz on a five-yard score to put Ohio up by 21 points.
UB received the ball with 90 seconds to play in the first half, and Snyder finally found his groove in the two-minute offense. A crucial third down connection with graduate wide receiver Quian Williams got the Bulls into striking distance. From the 12-yard line, Snyder passed to the back-right corner of the endzone, resulting in an impressive snag by Marshall for the Bulls’ first touchdown of the day.
Ohio’s defense stood out in the first half. Highlighted by two sacks and an interception, they held the potent Buffalo offense to 115 total yards with just 19 on the ground. Ohio’s offense was nearly unstoppable, scoring on two-thirds of its first-half drives.
Rourke looked left and threw a near-interception to UB junior safety Keyshawn Cobb to start the second half. Cobb missed a golden opportunity to return the ball for six.
But two plays later, Cobb got another chance. Rourke again threw the ball in Cobb’s direction and the UB defensive back snatched the ball and trotted 26 yards into the endzone. The Bulls’ biggest defensive play of the game cut their deficit to just seven, sparking hopes of a 21-point comeback.
Rourke stayed composed, and on the ensuing possession, the Ohio quarterback completed a series of passes to redshirt freshman tight end Will Kacmarek and sophomore wide receiver Miles Cross to march his team to the UB two-yard line. From the two, Cross swung out left and received a touch pass for Rourke’s fourth passing touchdown of the game. Ohio now led 31-17.
UB continued to fight, scoring early in the fourth on a Snyder shovel pass to redshirt freshman running back Mike Washington. UB cut their deficit to 31-24, but would not score again.
The Ohio defense continued strong play, sacking Snyder a total of six times. The UB run offense was nonexistent. One week after Cook Jr. rushed for a career-high 118 yards, the Bulls combined for 19 yards on the ground.
Following Ohio’s fifth touchdown, a pitch to redshirt sophomore safety Cam Dorsey, Ohio’s defense sealed the game. Graduate defensive tackle Kai Caesar strip-sacked Snyder on second down and the Bobcats recovered at the Buffalo 12-yard line. Rourke found the endzone for a career-high fifth time, passing to Cross for his second score. Two Ohio touchdowns in 66 seconds sealed the Bulls’ fate, a 45-24 final score.
Ohio’s ability to force turnovers and stop the run were defensive keys. On the other side of the ball, UB had no answer for Rourke and the Ohio offense. The MAC’s most accurate QB had a career night with 20 completions for 317 yards. His top weapon, Wiglusz, had six catches for 131 yards.
UB’s defense had bright moments, forcing two turnovers of their own, including a pick-six.
But in a game where Ohio’s quarterback had a near-perfect night, Snyder and the UB offense were unable to elevate their play. The Bulls’ passing attack was competent with Williams and Marshall combining for over 130 yards. But with no ground game and a vicious Ohio pass rush, the Bulls consistently found themselves behind the sticks, converting just 42% of third downs.
The loss snapped Buffalo’s five-game win streak and put the Bulls behind Ohio in MAC East standings. The Bulls look to rebound on the road against Central Michigan (2-6, 1-3 MAC) on Wednesday, Nov. 9.
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Ryan Tantalo is the managing editor of The Spectrum. He previously served as senior sports editor. Outside of the newsroom, Ryan spends his time announcing college hockey games, golfing, skiing and reading.