A 300-yard day and 3 touchdowns from Tyree Jackson weren’t enough Saturday afternoon in Buffalo’s 31-21 loss to Ball State. UB remains winless in the MAC as it crosses the halfway point in the season.
Once again, the Bulls couldn’t find stops on the ground, and were victimized after the half by a pair of long scoring runs from the Cardinals’ James Gilbert. Gilbert finished with 264 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and Ball State 356 yards total on the ground.
Atypically, UB was strong in the first half, scoring in the first quarter for the first time in 2016 thanks to a Mason Schreck-heavy drive, and taking a 14-7 lead into the half on a 13-yard touchdown from Malcolm Robinson. Other than Ball State’s opening scoring drive and threat to end the half, the Buffalo defense was stout and consistently in the backfield.
Buffalo wasn’t perfect, though, and the mistakes were more costly in the second half. UB was 1-4 on fourth downs — and missed a field goal on 4th and goal from the 3 — and saw two long plays come back due to penalties. Gilbert’s first big run, a 50-yarder that set up Ball State’s tying score, came after UB ran an option play out of the pistol on 4th and 1 rather than using their 245-pound quarterback on a quick sneak.
After a 36-yard touchdown to Robinson was called back due to an illegal formation on Buffalo’s next drive, Gilbert ripped off an 80-yard score to give Ball State the lead. All told, the Cardinals scored on three straight second-half drives to salt it away.
We’ll have more on this game the next few days. Next up for the Bulls is a road trip to Northern Illinois a week from today.