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99 for 99 - #82: Jim Hofher's First Win at UB

99 for 99 takes a look at the 99 biggest moments in UB Football history in anticipation of the 99th Season of UB Football which begins on September 1st, 2012. These moments are not in any order, however the top 10 moments have been saved for last.

September 22, 2001 - Buffalo 37, Connecticut 20 Hofher's First Win.

Coach Jim Hofher had the opportunity to get the first win of his career an hour away from his hometown of Middletown. The new UB coach was 0-2, but faced a team Rodney McKissic referred to as UB's "Mirror Image". UB was ranked 117 out of 117 after losses to Bowling Green and Rutgers, while UConn was ranked 116, but arguably the worse team in D-1A (Now FBS) after losing to D1-AA (Now FCS) Eastern Washington the previous week.

UConn had Buffalo's number however. In 1999, UB's first D-1A season, UConn crushed Buffalo 23-0. In 2000, UConn defeated Buffalo 24-21 in Amherst to gain their first win as a provisional D-1A member, and their first road win against a D-1A team.

2001 looked like more of the same.

UConn started strong but failed to score touchdowns twice in the redzone, settling for field goals to take a a 6-3 lead. After the second UConn Field goal, UB had the ball on their own 20-yard line with 49 seconds left; UConn had two timeouts. Mindlessly aggressive, UB did not take three knees and end the half. On first down, UB tried a Marquis Dwarte run, but it was stuffed for no gain. After UConn used their second timeout, UB threw a pass that fell incomplete. On 3rd & 10, Dwarte ran for 5 yards. UConn called their final timeout and got the ball back near midfield with 20 seconds left in the half.

On the first UConn play, Keron Henry hit O'Neil Wilson for a 54-yard touchdown. UConn took a 13-3 lead and all the momentum into halftime.

UConn took the kickoff to start the second half and marched down the field until Ryan Buttles halted UConn's drive with an interception. With the momentum now on UB's side, the offense went on to score 34 points on six straight possessions on route to a 37-20 victory. Marquis Dwarte ran for 3 touchdowns, Dallas Pelz kicked 3 field goals and Joe Freedy went 20 for 36 with a touchdown pass.

As Buffalo took the lead, future Lions embarrassment/UConn savior Dan Orlovsky attempted 4 passes with a 50% completion rate. Unfortunately for Orlovsky, his 2 completions were both to Buffalo defenders. On back-to-back drives, Buffalo got interceptions from Bobby Johnson, and Deonne McClelland.

After the UConn game, Buffalo proved they were better than their mirror image. Their new coach and his offensive system seemed to put UB on the right track. The win snapped an 18 game losing streak on the road that stretched back to September 1998. It was the first road win for UB against a D-1A opponent in over 30 years dating back to a 1969 win over Boston College. Sadly, Hofher 1-2 in his first 3 games would only win 7 more times versus 47 losses.

In the meantime, UConn would open play in Rentschler Field in 2003, with Big East play commencing the following year. UConn has won 7 straight meetings since UB's win in 2001 including their International bowl victory in 2009. In 2011 UConn "earned" a birth to the Fiesta Bowl in their 9th full season as a FBS member.