Winless Buffalo upends undefeated Army in OT, 23-20
Amherst, NY – The Buffalo Bulls (1-2) overcame a 20-6 deficit entering the third quarter to defeat the Black Knights of Army (3-1) by tying the game in regulation with 2:28 left on QB Tyree Jackson’s second TD of the game, and PK Adam Mitcheson made up for an earlier missed extra point by booting a 33-yard FG in the first OT for the Bulls’ first win of the season, 23-20. Despite 396 rushing yards by Army, the Bulls D turned back the dreaded Army triple option back on several fourth down conversion attempts, and during the final period, Jackson converted three pass completions to TE Mason Shreck to convert critical downs to keep two drives alive for 14 points. The game featured two burgeoning FBS programs we expect to see improve over the next few years into more competitive programs due to the credit of their head coaches, Jeff Monken of Army and Lance Leipold of Buffalo, who respectively took these lean programs over three and two years ago. It was an exciting, hard-fought game attended with two first-time Guest Game Analysts, Bill Knab (Fredonia State) and his fiancé Liz (Univ. of Rhode Island), who recently returned to the Buffalo area where they are enjoying retirement.
Army’s triple option offense baffled the Bulls at the start as the Cadets drove 71 yards the first time they possessed the ball. RB Jordan Ashberry ran around the right end on a 15-yard option play to put the Black Knights up, 7-0.
Entering the second period, Army was on the move starting from their 16. RB Tyler Campbell converted a run on fourth and two to the Bulls’ seven where PK Blake Wilson eventually nailed a 21-yard FG to extend the Army lead, 10-0. The end of the half finished with Army QB Ahmad Bradshaw lofting a long, high pass near the end zone that was intercepted by UB CB Brendan Williams on the one-yard line where Buffalo would run out the clock.
At the half, a female fan fell far short of the goal in a field long punt, pass, and kick contest. A male UB student fielded three “punts” fired from a machine successfully to win free stuff for all the UB students. The UB marching band, dubbed The Thunder of the East Marching Band, performed at halftime honoring the Military and all Veterans playing the music of all five major branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. A fireworks display followed, and Bill, Liz, and I all hoped that we’d see both squads, especially Buffalo, start lighting things up to make this game more interesting.
Buffalo’s defense got things going early in the third period as they forced a fumble with LB Ishmael Hargrove recovering at the Cadet 23. The turnover resulted in a one-yard TD plunge by Jackson following a key completion to TE Mason Shreck to gain a first down on third and six to the seven. Buffalo still trailed 10-6 as Mitcheson’s point-after attempt fell to the ground after hitting the right upright. Army seemed to be on the move again for a long drive until DE Brandon Crawford dropped Campbell for a seven-yard loss at the UB 33. Army settled for Wilson’s 33-yard FG and took a 13-7 lead. The Black Knight offense got going again late in the third and drove 62 yards ending with Bradshaw (22 carries for 126 yards, 1 TD) scoring on a five-yard TD run. The Black Knights led 20-6 seemingly in control entering the final period. In the fourth, we would find out that Bradshaw still can’t pass if his life depended on it as we witnessed last season (3 of 8 for 38 yards, I INT) as he was way off mark on several critical passing attempts, and Jackson found a reliable receiver in his TE Mason Shreck (five catches, 58 yards) as his wideouts let several long passes on their marks slip through their fingers on several occasions.
Starting the fourth, both defenses stopped the opposing offense on a fourth down attempt to maintain possession. On a sideline route, Jackson connected with Marcus McGill on a short pass to the left sideline and ran it all the way to the Army 17. On fourth and one at the eight, he completed his pass to sure-handed Shreck at the six for a first down. Next, he fired a pass to the back left corner of the end zone where he connected with his diving WR Kamathi Holsey for a score to cut Army’s lead, 20-13. Buffalo forced Army to punt next from its 29. Taking over from his 38, Jackson completed a critical pass to Shreck on fourth and nine to the Army 40 where the big TE fought to get the extra yard to which Bill noted, “Great second effort!” After another incompletion through a receiver’s finger tips, Jackson connected with his now go-to guy Shreck for a first down at Army’s eight. With 2:28 left, Jackson went over from the one and Mitcheson’s PAT tied it, 20-20. Army returned the ensuing kick-off out to their 38 with the goal of getting into FG range. On third and four at UB’s 42, Bradshaw misfired badly to an open receiver. Kell Walker’s run got them to their 31. With second and eight at the 17, Lance Leipold used all three of the Bulls’ remaining time-outs to “ice” Wilson. Wilson made an attempt for a 31-yard FG, but it went wide left exposing the West Point kicking game as yet another soft spot in the Army offense. The icing worked. The game went into over-time.
UB won the toss and went on defense to start. A holding call on the first play from scrimmage set them back at the 40. Bradshaw completed two short passes that put them in a fourth and eleven at the 26. The best the Cadets could do was attempt a 43-yard FG well out of Wilson’s range. Wide right! Buffalo took over. Jackson ran it down to the 11. Mitcheson’s kick went through for the 23-20 Bull win and the and the remaining students among the 19,217 in attendance tonight (Bill figured most of the student section had left for the local bars when down 20-6) celebrated a hard-fought come from behind with their school mascot, Victor E. Bull! The Bulls and Cadets both played hard throughout, and we expect to see both programs continue to win more and more games the next few season under their very good coaching staffs.
Next week, UB heads to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts to play their final non-conference game before entering Mid-American Conference play when they meet winless Boston College. Army has a bye next Saturday before heading to Durham, NC to meet Duke. Last season, we saw the Blue d/evils hand army their worst defeat of the season, 44-3. This game will be a true barometer of Army’s improvement since last year. We’ve seen enough that we have altered our plans on November 5 and will instead attend the Army vs. Air Force game on that day in West Point. Next Saturday, Collegefootballfan.com will hold its Big Tailgate with a busload of friends and the Boonton Knights of Columbus when we see disappointing Notre Dame (1-3) play Syracuse (2-2) in MetLife Stadium. Bill and Liz planned a DH weekend to see their beloved Buffalo Bills host Arizona the next afternoon after our Saturday night at the University of Buffalo Stadium. Their Bills won, 33-16.
Extra points: LB Andrew King led Army in tackling with 12 stops. For Buffalo, LBs Jarrett Franklin led with 17 tackles and his fellow LB Khalil Hodge racked up 16.
QB Chris Carter saw a series of action for Army. With a week off, maybe he will take more reps during practice and see some more action against Duke.