by Bob Gaughan, Buffalo Sports Page
Saturday, the UB Bulls battled #15 Penn State before falling to the Nittany Lioins 45-13. Buffalo led the game 10-7 at the half.
Is there such a thing a moral victory? When you look at the final score of Penn State 45 and UB 13 you would think that the game was a disaster for the Bulls. But anyone in the national television audience that watched the game on Fox would tell you different. For two and a half quarters the Bulls controlled the ball, time of possession and statistically dominated the game. Then Penn State woke up. Still UB looked like they belonged on the same field as the 15th rated team in the nation.
UB entered the game as a 30-point underdog to a team that had just put 79 points up on Idaho the week before. Penn State’s defense is littered in the front seven with players destined to play on Sundays. This was a tall order.
Yet when the game started the Bulls weren’t pushed around. Penn State took a 7-0 lead after a Kevin Marks fumble gave the Nittany Lions a short field. QB Sean Clifford hit Jahan Dotson for a 28 yard score. The Bulls responded with a 19-play 69 yard drive of their own. The big play was on a 3rd and 18 when Matt Myers hit Jaret Patterson for 20 yards on a screen pass. The Bulls drive stalled inside the redzone and Alex Mcnulty hit a 32-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-3.
The Bulls got the ball back with under 5 minutes to go deep in their own territory at their four yard-line. The Bulls preceded to go on a 10 play 96 yard yard-drive. The big plays were a Matt Myers to Zac Lefebvre 29 yard pass and Myers to Antonio Nunn pass that went for 40 yards. Myers capped off the drive by hitting tight end Julien Bourassa from 6 yards out to give UB a 10-7 halftime lead.
At the half the Bulls had an edge of 12-4 in first downs, 272-86 lead in total yards and time of possession was 21:31 to 8:29 in the Bulls favor. Penn State went to the locker room to a chorus of boos from the 104,000 fans in the stands.
For the second straight game the Bulls young quarterback acted like he belonged. He wasn’t rattled to be in front of a huge hostile crowd or on national TV. Myers finished the day 16 of 31 for 246 yards with a touchdown.
Myers stats may have been better if not for a few drops. However Myers made one mistake that turned the game around. Myers was late and behind on a pass to the flat and PSU’s John Reed returned an interception 37 yards for a pick six. This put Penn State up 14-10 in the third quarter.
Penn State took advantage of a short field to go up 21-10, when UB went on their final scoring drive. The Bulls went 9 plays and 66 yards for another Alex Mcnulty field goal. With 6:59 left in the third quarter the score was 21-13 Penn State. The total yards at that point was 346-139 in UB’s favor.
Penn State Takes Control
The second half of the third quarter Penn State took control going on two touchdown drives. Noah Cain ran over from two yards out and TE Pat Freiermuth hauled in a 28-yard pass from Clifford to give PSU a 35-13 lead.
10 more points in the fourth quarter would give the final score. For the day the Bulls still did outgain the Lions 429 to 357 and had eight more first downs 22-14. Time of possession was 42:32 to 17:28 in UB’s favor.
The Bulls rushed for 184 yards on the night. Jaret Patterson had 71 yards on 23 carries and Kevin Marks ran for 63 yards on 17 carries. Antonio Nunn was the star receiver with 5 catches for 113 yards.
The biggest concerns were injuries. Punter Evan Finnegan hurt his leg on a gruesome injury in the third quarter. Tight end Zac Lefebvre was on crutches in the second half. The Bulls were already without starting linebacker Kadofi Wright.
On To Liberty
UB falls to 1-1 on the season and next travel to Lynchburg, Virginia to take on Liberty next week. The Flames come in 0-2 on the season after falling 35-14 to UL-Lafayette. Lafayette had 593 yards of offense in the victory. In week one Liberty was shutout by Syracuse 24-0.
Former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze leads the Flames. Freeze is still recovering from a staph infection after having herniated disc surgery. Freeze has had to coach from a hospital bed or dentist chair from the press box in the first two games.
Flames QB Stephen Calvert has been pressured in both losses. The Flames have given up 11 sacks in two games and numerous pressures. The Bulls should be able to run on Liberty. Lafayette ran for 408 yards in their victory. Game time is set for 6pm on Saturday.