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Northern Illinois Huskies vs Buffalo Bulls football recap: First half hole too deep for Bulls

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

On 12 November 2013, a surprising 7-2 UB team traveled to MAC West contender Toledo and scored 41 points in the final 17 minutes, but only after dropping into a 38-0 hole. They'd lose 51-41 to the Rockets.

Two years, nearly to the day, the numbers weren't as extreme, but the Bulls once again dropped a game late in a promising season after a second half surge. UB's 27-10 run in the second half drew the hosts within a single possession after a 28-3 halftime deficit, but at the end of the day Buffalo drops to 5-5 on the season after NIU's 41-30 victory. Joel Bouagnon rushed for 156 yards in the Huskie win.

Buffalo did an adequate job of containing NIU's passing attack a week after the Huskies lost both Drew Hare and Tommylee Lewis, but couldn't stop the rush attack in the first half. Meanwhile, the UB offense sputtered, undone by alternately pass-heavy and run-heavy play calling, a curious avoidance of Matt Weiser and Mason Schreck in the passing game, and a pair of Joe Licata interceptions on consecutive drives.

UB scored touchdowns on three of their first four drives after halftime, and moved 51 yards on nine plays to the edge of the redzone on the other before an incomplete pass to Weiser fell without a flag. Seven more points came from a 68-yard interception return from Cam Lewis. The surge brought the Bulls within 38-30 with nearly seven minutes to play, but Buffalo's next drive saw two sacks, a penalty, and just a 31-yard punt that allowed NIU to kick an insurance field goal without gaining a first down.

Aside from the woeful-across-the-board showing in the first half (which was still less lopsided than the CMU game), Adam Mitcheson had a terrible day kicking, missing two field goals and an extra point (which may have been blocked). Tyler Grassman averaged just 35 yards on three punts.

During the third quarter Joe Licata passed Drew Willy for UB's all-time lead in passing yards. Furthermore, Lewis' interception was the team's seventh on the year, which leads the country. Each defensive score has come from a different player.

The Bulls get back on the weekend schedule next week, traveling to Akron in ten days for a 3:30 kick on CBS Sports. Now 5-5 on the season, they're still just a single game from bowl eligibility.