BUFFALO, NY – Branden Oliver rushed for 199 yards and the Buffalo Bulls took advantage of special teams play Saturday as UB kicked a field goal on the game’s final play to secure a 27-24 Mid-American Conference victory. It was the first MAC win for the Bulls, who moved to 2-7 overall and 1-4 in MAC play.
“I couldn’t be more proud of those guys in that locker room,” UB head coach Jeff Quinn said “”It’s a long overdue feeling for our program and it will go down in the history books as one of the best endings to a football game here at UB.”
Quarterback Zac Dysert rallied the RedHawks in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, completing two clutch fourth down passes during a 16-play 75-yard scoring drive that tied the contest at 24-all.
Dysert, who moved past former RedHawk Ben Roethlisberger into first place on the Miami career passing yardage list, hit fellow senior Andy Cruse on a fourth-and-20 pass to set up MU’s final score. A Dysert-to-Nick Harwell five-yard pass on the next play, followed by Kaleb Patterson’s extra point knotted the game at 24-24 with just 23 seconds left.
Overtime seemed imminent until Devin Campbell returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards to the Miami 35. After a five-yard Oliver run to the 30, UB brought on Patrick Clarke for a 47-yard try. He had already kicked a 49-yarder with the strong winds mostly at his back earlier in the game. Clarke also made good on his final kick as time expired, and the Bulls celebrated their first MAC win of 2012. “As soon as I kicked it, I knew it was good,” Clarke said.
A week earlier, it was Miami celebrating on its home field as time expired. But the RedHawks sowed the seeds for trouble in several areas while battling a Bulls team that was missing starting QB Alex Zordich.
-- Unlike in their previous outing, the RedHawks struggled in trying to stop the run.
-- Buffalo had four kickoff returns for 117 yards.
-- Miami had eight penalties for 77 yards, several of which fueled UB drives.
-- MU scored seven points in two quarters with the wind in its favor.
-- Instead of taking advantage of a Buffalo special teams miscue in the fourth quarter, MU gave up a first down play that set up a touchdown.
The game was tied 17-all in the fourth quarter when Buffalo stopped a Miami drive by forcing a fumble at the UB 35. Four plays into the Bulls drive, MU was flagged for pass interference, moving the ball to the Miami 34.
The RedHawks appeared to halt the drive three plays later to force a long field goal try. Clarke came in for a 49-yard attempt. The snap was low, however, forcing holder Tony Daniel to scramble. Not only was Miami unable to reel him in before he completed a first-down pass to Alex Dennison, the RedHawks were hit with a roughing the passer penalty.
That gave UB new life at the MU 11-yard line. The Bulls were flagged with a holding penalty on the next play, but quarterback Joe Licata then threaded the needle to Fred Lee with a 21-yard TD strike.
Licata, a freshman from nearby Williamsville, completed 13-of-25 with one interception and two touchdowns for a quarterback rating of 117.8. In addition to Lee’s TD, Licata also connected with Alex Neutz on a 43-yard touchdown strike in the third period. Neutz came into the contest with a MAC-best eight receiving touchdowns.
Most of Licata’s damage came in the second half after both teams battled to a 3-3 tie at intermission. Licata was 7-of-13 for 35 yards with one interception at the break. The interception came early in the second period when Brison Burris pulled in a pick at the Miami 28-yard line.
The RedHawks used another Bulls mistake later in the period to post the game’s first points. A high snap on an attempted punt resulted in Miami taking over at the UB 33-yard line. Unable to get a first down, Miami brought on freshman Kaleb Patterson, who hit a 29-yard field goal.
Buffalo started the ensuing drive at its own 43 and quickly reached the Miami 39 with the help of a 15-yard face mask penalty. The Bulls made just seven more yards after that, but with the wind in his favor, Clarke converted a 49-yard field goal try at 4:42.
Miami got another chance to score before intermission when Burris came up with a fumble by Campbell at the UB 29. But after two incompletions and a one-yard run by Dysert, MU – moving into the wind – was forced into a fourth-and-nine conversion try. Dysert’s pass fell incomplete.
The senior was 5-of-15 for 25 yards before intermission. He finished the contest completing 25-of-44 with no interceptions and three TDS. He was sacked three times, while his Buffalo counterpart was not sacked at all.
Buffalo continued to feed Oliver, who had 102 rushing yards through two quarters, as the second half began. His 27-yard run and a Miami face mask penalty set up a Bulls touchdown at 9:45 of the third stanza.
Dysert completed five-of-six tosses and ran for 13 yards in a nine-play drive as Miami tied the game at 10-all on the following possession. Harwell caught the fade pass for a 10-yard TD play.
Neutz got loose for his 43-yard TD reception to cap Buffalo’s next drive. However, Miami responded with a 13-play drive covering 75 yards. Harwell’s one-yard reception and Patterson’s PAT evened the contest at 17-all.
Miami returns home to host MAC East leader Kent State next week. Buffalo hosts its last home game when Western Michigan comes to town next Saturday (3:30 p.m.).
- Miami had 98 yards rushing. Dysert provided 42 yards on 13 carries. Receiver Dawon Scott carried five times for 34 yards. Oliver carried the ball 32 times for 199 yards – a 6.2 ypc average
- Harwell had 10 catches (62 yards) and three touchdowns. Andy Cruse picked up 87 yards on six receptions.
- MU punter Zac Murphy took advantage of the windy conditions Saturday to launch a 74-yard boot. He punted six times on the day, averaging 43.8 yards.
- Both Miami (Kaleb Patterson) and Buffalo (Patrick Clarke) have a freshman placekicker.
- Redshirt freshman Joe Licata made his first career start against Miami.