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Bulls Fall in OT to Ohio, 21-20

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Buffalo v Miami Ohio Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Coming into Week 6, the Buffalo Bulls were looking to bounce back from a MAC season opening loss to the Miami (OH) RedHawks that put a dent in bowl, and MAC East title aspirations. The preseason MAC East favorites, the Ohio Bobcats, rolled into town providing an opportunity for the Bulls to get back on track, however the Bulls were unable to capitalize, digging themselves a deeper hole.

First Half

To open the game, the Ohio Bobcats won the coin toss electing to defer, and giving the Bulls the first possession of the game. After taking the opening kick for a touchback, the Bulls managed to drive the ball from their own 25 down to the Ohio 4. This push was powered by RB Jaret Patterson taking a short check down pass 61 yards down the sideline to the Ohio 10.

After a pair of short gains on the ground to reach the 4, a false start penalty pushed the Bulls back to the 9 yard line. On third down, HC Lance Leipold dialed up a conservative read option play that resulted in a two yard gain. This left K Jackson Baltar with a 24 yard field goal attempt that he pushed left, which foreshadowed the return of the kicking woes that have haunted the Bulls for years.

Following the missed kick the Bobcats took over at their own 20 yard line. The Bobcats chipped away picking up three first downs and advancing to the Buffalo 42 before being forced to punt on 4th and 11. All-MAC P Michael Farkas punted the ball 32 yards, which was fair caught at the UB 10.

The Bulls offense came onto the field, taking over at their own 10 yard line. Led by the rushing game (including 11 yards on the ground from QB Kyle Vantrease), the Bulls marched down the field, burning 8:14 off the clock, and reaching the Ohio 4 yardline. On 3rd and 3 from the 4, RB Kevin Marks was stuffed for no gain, leaving Lance Leipold with a tough decision. Having already missed a short FG earlier in the game Leipold elected to go for it, and it paid off. Vantrease connected with QB turned WR Dominic Johnson for a 4 yard TD catch, the first of Johnson’s career.

Following a touchback on the kickoff, the Bobcats led an eight minute drive of their own marching from their own 25 to the UB 1. The Ohio offense tried to punch it in three consecutive times, but the Buffalo defense held stout, stuffing the Bobcats on the first two attempts, and then forcing a three yard loss on the third attempt. The Bobcats elected to go for it on 4th down looking to match the Bulls, but QB Nathan Rourke was forced out of the pocket by DE Malcolm Koonce, and his throw sailed over the head of his TE Ryan Luehrman.

After taking over at their own 4 with 4:29 remaining in the half, the Buffalo offense again turned to the run game to give themselves some breathing room. After 3 Jaret Patterson rushing attempts moved the Bulls out to the 16 yard line, Leipold opened up the offense with time dwindling in the half. Kyle Vantrease completed 4 straight passing attempts and Patterson picked up 12 more yards on the ground, moving the Bulls to the Ohio 40. From there the offense stalled with 3 consecutive incompletions including on their 4th and 4 conversion attempt.

After the turnover on downs, the Ohio offense came onto the field looking to see if they could capitalize on the field position with 0:20 remaining in the half. Nathan Rourke dropped back to pass but was sacked by Malcolm Koonce, and DT Chibueze Onwuka. After the sack the Bobcats elected to let the clock run out, and head to the locker room down 7-0.

Second Half

The Bobcats started the second half with the ball after deferring on the opening coinflip. Starting at their own 22, the Bobcat offense looked sharp coming out of the halftime break, rattling off six consecutive plays of at least 7 yards. This stretch got Ohio down to the UB 6 yard line. A 1 yard rush from RB O’Shaan Allison, set-up a 5 yard TD run by Nathan Rourke, that evened the game up at 7-7 just 4 minutes into the second half.

The UB offense started at the 25 after a touchback on the kickoff, and looked just as sharp as the Ohio offense coming out of halftime. The Bulls need just 5 plays to move the ball down to the Ohio 26, highlighted by a 23 yard reception by RB Ron Cook. Unfortunately the Bulls drive ended on the next play, after making a good read on an option and picking up 4 yards Kyle Vantrease fumbled the ball and it was recovered by the Ohio defense at the Ohio 25.

After a big play by the Ohio defense, their offense stepped onto the field looking to capitalize on the UB mistake. The Ohio offense looked threatening to start the drive leading a six minute sustained drive down to the UB 22. On 1st and 10 from the UB 22, Rourke looked towards the endzone, but a spectacular leaping interception by LB Kadofi Wright thwarted the Ohio threat.

Taking over at their own 9 yard line, the Buffalo offense failed to get anything going, being forced to punt after a three and out. QB/P Kyle Vantrease stayed on the field for his first punt of the afternoon, netting 39 yards on a punt that was downed at the Ohio 47.

Following the punt, Ohio’s drive was just two plays long, on the second play Nathan Rourke dropped back to pass but was sacked by Malcolm Koonce, who also knocked the ball free. The ball was recovered by DE Taylor Riggins at the Ohio 34.

The Buffalo offense wasted no time after taking the field, needing just one play to find the endzone. Vantrease hit WR Antonio Nunn who took it to the house from 34 yards out. Following the converted PAT, the Bulls took a 14-7 lead over the Bobcats.

The next Ohio and Buffalo drives combined for 7 plays and resulted in trading punts, that ultimately ended in the Bobcats taking over at the Buffalo 48 yard line. On the first play of the drive Rourke found WR Shane Hooks for a 34 yard gain putting the Bobcats at the UB 14 yardline. 3 consecutive rushing attempts ended in O’Shaan Allison finding paydirt from 1 yard out.

The Bulls offense took over following the Ohio touchdown, but was unable to get any momentum going, resulting in their second consecutive 3 and out. Kyle Vantrease had a 34 yard punt that was fair caught at the Ohio 34 yard line.

The following Ohio drive started with a 29 yard run by Nathan Rourke that moved the Bobcats to the UB 35. On the next set of downs a holding penalty and a sack killed the Ohio drive, leaving K Louie Zervos with a 52 yard field goal attempt, which fell just short, bouncing off the crossbar.

The Bulls took over at their own 35 following the missed field goal. With 6:41 remaining on the clock, Lance Leipold elected to run the ball nine consecutive times melting the clock down to 1:27 and leaving the Bulls with 4th and 1 at the Ohio 29. Despite converting a 4th down QB sneak earlier on the drive, and Jackson Baltar missing a FG earlier in the game, Leipold elected to attempt a field goal. Baltar came out for his second attempt of the game, this time from 46 yards, and missed wide right.

Ohio took over at their own 30 with 1:22 remaining, needing just a field goal to win. Fortunately for the Bulls, the defense held stout, forcing a 3 and out. The Bobcats netted 50 yards on a punt that was fair caught at the UB 12 with 0:20 remaining in the game. The Bulls, playing near their own goaline, decided to not take any risks, and kneeled the ball twice to take the game to overtime.

Overtime

The Bulls got the first possession of overtime, and moved the ball from the 25 down to the 3 yard line. On 3rd and 2, Kyle Vantrease kept it on a read option, and made his way into the endzone. Jackson Baltar would miss the PAT, his third missed kick of the game, leaving the Bulls with a 20-14 lead.

The Bobcats answered, handing the ball to O’Shaan Allison five consecutive times, the last being a 5 yard rumble into the end zone. Louie Zervos came on, and nailed the PAT, giving the Bobcats the 21-20 walk-off OT win.