A horrendous offensive start set the tone for UB in their season opener, down 14-13 at the half and unable to capitalize on an overwhelming advantage in yards thanks to four killer turnovers. The result was a 22-16 defeat to Albany, the first loss to an FCS team since 2003 and perhaps the worst in Buffalo’s Division I history.
Graduate transfer from Iowa State Grant Rohach started the game for the Bulls and took the first offensive snaps after Albany deferred until the second half. Rohach’s first pass was intercepted after he stared down his receiver and Michael Nicastro stepped in front of Rohach’s intended receiver. Albany would score two plays later.
UB’s offensive woes would continue for much of the first half as Rohach would struggle to connect with his receivers. Rohach struggled to recognize the pressure that Albany was bringing and wasn’t able to compensate for the young offensive line in front of him. In all, Rohach finished 3-9 for 52 yards and two interceptions in the six drives that he led.
Tyree Jackson entered the game with 5:35 remaining in the first half and made his presence felt. Jackson was able to evade the Albany pressure and stand tall in the pocket and go through his progressions. Jackson led a 31-yard field goal drive and then led an impressive 78-yard touchdown drive with 1:42 left in the half. Jackson found Mason Schreck in the right half of the endzone after rolling out to evade an Albany rusher.
The Bulls’ defense was feeling the loss of star cornerback Boise Ross who was suspended for the game due to a violation of team rules. The first half saw UB’s bend-but-don’t-break style that kept the Albany offense to only 75 yards of offense in the first half. However, several times the UB defensive backfield left Albany receivers open down field on busted coverage and Albany was able to capitalize.
While the offense and defense progressed as the game moved along the special teams suffered mightily the entire game. Albany was able to return several kickoffs deep and had plenty of return lanes to work with.
Jackson opened the second half with two impressive runs of 9 and 19 yards on a scoring drive that saw Adam Mitcheson drill a 45-yard field goal to give UB its first lead of the game.
However, that lead would be slashed after Albany took advantage of several busted UB coverages on a 7-play 81-yard touchdown drive to give the Great Danes the 22-16 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Jackson would drive UB down deep into Albany territory but he would fumble at the 1 yard line on a scramble giving Albany the ball back on a touchback. He would then throw a game sealing interception with just over 2 minutes remaining in the game. He finished 14-25 for 125 yards and a touchdown.
This was arguably the worst loss in UB’s Division I history. UB will be off next week before heading out west to take on Nevada. Here’s hoping they improve with their time.