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Buffalo Bulls Football falls short to Northern Illinois, 30-29, in MAC Championship game

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NCAA Football: MAC Championship-Northern Illinois at Buffalo Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s a heart breaker for Buffalo Bulls fans.

UB dropped their MAC Championship matchup with Northern Illinois, 30-29, after holding a 19 point lead in the third quarter.

After an NIU turnover on the opening drive, Buffalo put the foot on the gas early. Jaret Patterson fueled the Bulls’ first offensive drive with double-digit rushes and Kevin Marks pounded in a three-yard touchdown.

Tyree Jackson and Anthony Johnson were also dominant in the first half. Jackson connected with his star wide-out for two touchdowns on 13 and 26 yards respectively. Add in the craziest Adam Mitcheson field goal and the Bulls went into the half with a 22-10 advantage.

UB appeared to be in full control to cruise to a MAC title in the thir, but, witdh a 29-10 lead, NIU started clawing back into contention with two touchdowns: a 28-yard pass to DJ Brown and a 32-yard bomb to Spencer Tears.

A 19-point gap became just a 5-point one and UB had completely stalled out on offense. In a three-drive span in the second half, the Bulls had negative total yardage. It was the worst case scenario for the best team in the MAC.

The game soon became a defensive slugging between the two opponents, but NIU’s Brown found a hole to slip through for another 35-yard touchdown with just over a minute left in the game. NIU held a one-point lead and UB needed the biggest answer of the season.

Buffalo put in a ton of effort and did get to mid field, but NIU’s prevent defense was too much for Jackson to navigate through, leaving Buffalo oh-so-close to winning their second-ever MAC title.

Buffalo now awaits their bowl bid as they fall to 10-3. The Bulls still may have a shot at getting into the Quick Lane Bowl now that NIU is likely heading to the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, AL.

Keep calm. Don’t panic. 10-3 is still really awesome. This program was 2-10 two years ago for crying out loud.

Go Bulls.