Week 9’s match-up between the Central Michigan Chippewas and the Buffalo Bulls was an important one for both sides, with CMU looking to lock-up bowl eligibility and UB looking to keep the dream of a bowl alive. The Bulls came out looking hungry, forcing five turnovers on the afternoon, and had a comfortable two possession lead from early in the second quarter to the final whistle.
The Bulls won the opening coin flip and elected to defer to the second half giving the CMU offense the first crack. CMU opened the game with a delay of game penalty, and then gave up a sack on the first play of the game. The Chippewas picked up 11 yards on their next two plays but it was not enough on 2nd and 23. A 51 yard punt by CMU P Brady Buell gave the Bulls the ball at their own 42 yard line.
Using 10 plays, the UB offense moved the ball from their own 42 to the CMU 12 primarily on the back of RB Jaret Patterson. The drive stalled out there and K Alex McNulty came onto the field for a 29 yard field goal attempt, which he converted to give the Bulls a 3-0 lead.
The Chippewa offense bounced back effectively from their messy first possession. Utilizing 4 chunk gains on passes by QB Quinten Dormady, CMU marched down the field and scored a touchdown that was punched in from one yard out by RB Jonathan Ward.
On the kick-off K Ryan Tice sent the ball out of bounds, giving the Bulls the ball at the 35. On the first play of the drive QB Kyle Vantrease hit WR Antonio Nunn for a 36 yard gain down to the CMU 29. After no gain on the first three plays of the new set of downs, HC Lance Leipold elected to go for it on 4th and 10 due to being outside of UB’s comfortable field goal range. Vantrease again found Nunn, but just short of the line to gain, picking up nine yards, and turning the ball over on downs at the CMU 20.
After taking over on downs, the CMU offense picked up one first down before the Buffalo defense forced their first turnover of five on the afternoon. A sack by LB James Patterson knocked the ball lose which was recovered by DE Taylor Riggins and returned six yards to the CMU 22.
After the fumble, the UB offense took over and handed the ball to RB Kevin Marks five consecutive times, moving the Bulls from the 22 to the 8. On 3rd and goal from the eight, Vantrease found Antonio Nunn again, this time in the corner of the endzone on a fade. The Nunn TD and ensuing PAT gave the Bulls a 10-7 lead that they would not give up for the rest of the game.
On the first play of the ensuing CMU drive, the Chippewas again coughed up the ball, this time S Joey Banks forced the fumble on a hit on Jonathan Ward. The fumble was recovered by LB Kadofi Wright at the CMU 15.
On the first play after the fumble recovery, Jaret Patterson took it in from 15 yards out to give the Bulls a 17-7 lead.
CMU’s drive following the Patterson TD was more successful than their previous two, in that it did not end in a turnover, but after picking up two first downs they were forced to punt from their own 48. A 32 yard punt gave the Bulls control of the ball at the UB 20.
After taking over at the 20 the Bulls used a balance attack of three Vantrease completions, and four carries each for Patterson and Marks, to march 80 yards down the field. The drive culminated in another TD pass from Vantrease to Nunn in the corner of the endzone, this time from 14 yards out. An Alex McNulty PAT made the score 24-7 UB.
Setup by a 32 yard kick return by RB Kobe Lewis, the CMU offense started at their own 41 with 3:32 remaining in the half. The Chippewas struck quickly, needing just five plays to find the endzone. The final play of the drive was a 14 yard pass from Quinten Dormady to WR JaCorey Sullivan.
The Bulls responded with a quick strike TD of their own, needing just 0:34 to move the ball from the UB 30 to the end zone. The key play of the drive was a dump down pass from Vantrease to Patterson, that Patterson took down the sideline for a 54 yard gain to the CMU 3.
On the first play following the Patterson catch and run, Kevin Marks found the endzone, but the PAT was missed by Alex McNulty.
With less than a minute on the clock a CMU three and out, and a UB kneel down took the teams into the locker room with the Bulls holding a 30-14 lead.
After deferring to the second half, the Bulls got the first shot on offense in the second half. A three and out forced a punt from P Jackson Baltar, but the punt took a bounce of the back of a CMU player and was recovered by LS Evan Davis at the CMU 42.
On the first play after the recovery, Kyle Vantrease’s pass to WR Carlton Todd bounced off Todd’s hands after being hit by a defender, and was then intercepted by S Alonzo McCoy.
Following the interception, the CMU offense could get nothing going. On two consecutive drives the CMU offense went three and out, with a Buffalo three and out sandwiched in between.
Following the ping pong of punts, Buffalo ended up with the ball at their own 31 with 8:48 remaining in the third quarter. Vantrease and Patterson alternated between short passing and rushing gains, which moved the Bulls all the way down to the CMU 11 before the drive stalled out. Lance Leipold again called on Alex McNulty to attempt a field goal from 29 yards, and again McNulty rewarded Leipold’s faith, converting the FG to make the score 33-14.
CMU started their next drive at their own 21, and immediately struck for a 52 yard gain from Dormady to WR Kalil Pimpleton. The CMU threat fizzled out there though, after gaining nine yards on their new set of downs, the Chippewas elected to go for it on 4th and 1. Jonathan Ward was stuffed behind the line of scrimmage on the attempt, turning the ball over on downs back to the Bulls.
The UB offense managed to pick-up two first downs, moving the ball out to the 45 before being forced to punt. A 36 yard punt from Jackson Baltar left Central Michigan with the ball at their own 19.
On the second play of the new CMU drive, a tipped pass by Quinten Dormady was intercepted by Joey Banks and returned six yards to the UB 46.
After the interception, the Bulls offense ran the ball seven times to pick up 33 yards, splitting the work between Patterson and Marks. After failing to convert a 3rd and 8 at the CMU 21, the Bulls again turned to McNulty. From 39 yards out, McNulty again came through, making it a 22 point game, 36-14 Buffalo.
CMU answered with one of their best drives of the night, advancing the ball 75 yards on 11 plays, and resulting in a five yard TD connection between Dormady and Pimpleton. The Chippewas went for two, which was unsuccessful, leaving the score at 36-20.
A Buffalo three and out resulted in a 22 yard punt by Jackson Baltar, giving CMU the ball at their own 25 yard line. On the first set of downs, CMU was faced with a 4th and 9, that they went for. CMU went to the air looking for the conversion, but the pass was intercepted by LB Kadofi Wright and returned 40 yards to the house. The TD and PAT were the final scores of the game leaving the score at 43-20.
With just 2:19 remaining on the clock, CMU went four and out, and the Bulls kneeled out the remainder of the time on the clock. The win brought the Bulls back to .500 at 4-4, two games away from bowl eligibility and still just 1 game back in the MAC East divisional race.