Thermilus Leads Bulls To 42-17 Win at Miami
OXFORD, OH – The University at Buffalo exploded for 21 second quarter points to offset a sluggish start and went on to a convincing 42-17 victory at Miami University on Wednesday night in a game televised nationally on ESPNU. Junior tailback Brandon Thermilus ran for a career-best 126 yards on just 11 carries and scored three touchdowns to lead the Bulls, while quarterback Zach Maynard accounted for 197 yards of total offense (136 passing and 61 rushing) and a pair of touchdowns as well. It marked Buffalo's first-ever win at Miami's Yager Stadium in their seventh trip.
Trailing 3-0 in the second quarter, the Bulls exploded for 21 points behind the play of Maynard and Thermilus. Maynard connected on 9-of-10 passes for 93 yards, while Thermilus blasted for 93 yards on just five carries and scored a pair of touchdowns in that quarter alone, as the Bulls took control of the contest.
That followed a first quarter that saw the Bulls gain just 16 yards and go without a first down. In the second quarter, Buffalo gained 200 yards and had 11 first downs and took control of both the line of scrimmage and the game. Buffalo's defense was opportunistic throughout the game, accounting for a season-high six sacks and recording two turnovers, both by senior safety Mike Newton. Newton, who had 10 tackles, intercepted a pass at the goal line and recovered a fumble at the UB one-yard line to thwart Miami scoring chances. Safety Davonte Shannon recorded a season-high 15 tackles, including two for losses, while sophomore Gordon DuBois led a strong UB pass rush with two of the Bulls' six sacks. Linebacker Scott Pettigrew added 10 tackles and a sack and the UB defense recorded a season-high 12 tackles for loss.
"We needed a win and to win here at Miami for the first time and to see our players continue to play hard and execute well, it's great to get a win," said head coach Turner Gill. "Since I've been here, running backs have been the strength of our team, this year we have that depth and they are all very explosive when they are healthy. Brandon was finally healthy tonight and he showed his ability."
"We have to do a better job of getting off the field defensively, they ran 92 plays due to converting a lot of third downs (13-of-21)," said Gill, "but it was a great job by our defense of keeping them out of the end zone and for the most part we did that."
The game was scoreless through the first quarter despite the RedHawks spending a good portion of it in Bulls territory. Miami's first drive moved inside the Buffalo 40-yard line before a holding call and a pass breakup by Newton ended the drive.
After Buffalo failed to pick up a first down, punter Peter Fardon got off his best punt of the season, a 52-yarder that the RedHawks muffed but were able to recover. Miami was able to drive to the Buffalo 20-yard line, but on first down Newton came up with another big play, intercepting Zak Dysert at the goal line and returning the ball to the Buffalo 30-yard lilne. It was Newton's second interception of the season and the third time this year he has either recovered a fumble or intercepted a pass in the Buffalo end zone.
Miami opened the scoring with 10:10 remaining in the half after a special teams miscue by Buffalo. After forcing a punt after a sack by sophomore Pettigrew, Buffalo roughed the punter, giving the RedHawks an automatic first down. Buffalo's defense, thanks to a forced fumble that rolled out of bounds after a seven-yard loss by Josh Thomas, were able to limit Miami to a 37-yard field goal by Trevor Cook.
As they have often this year, Buffalo responded to an opponent's scoring drive with one of their own. Buffalo drove 69 yards in seven plays as Maynard ran for a first down to keep the drive alive and completed 3-of-3 passes for 38 yards. Tailback Thermilus capped the drive, going untouched into the left corner of the end zone from three yards out, after setting the Bulls up inside the five-yard line with a 27-yard burst around right end. After a PAT by A.J. Principe, the Bulls led 7-3 with 6:49 left in the half.
After forcing a Miami punt, Thermilus took over the game. The junior from Texas ripped off runs of 18 and 14 yards and Maynard hit freshman fullback Nick Sizemore, making his first start, for a seven-yard completion. Thermilus then burst over left guard, behind guard Peter Bittner and tackle Jordan Jerrold, and rambled 31 yards for the touchdown.
The Bulls' defense then forced a three-and-out by Miami, as senior defensive tackle Dane Robinson registered his first sack of the year, forcing another RedHawk punt.
Getting the ball back with 1:26 on the clock, Maynard and the Bulls ran an efficient two-minute drill that led to a 52-yard scoring drive in seven plays. The key plays were a 10-yard pass from Maynard to tight end Jesse Rack, and a 17-yard hookup with Brett Hamlin. On second-and-goal at the two-yard line, Maynard bootlegged around left end with just 13 seconds left in the half. The Bulls led 21-3 at the half.
The Bulls opened the second half with their fourth straight scoring drive. Thermilus and Maynard ripped off back-to-back 15 yard runs, before the Bulls went into the trickeration bag. The Bulls ran a triple reverse for the second time this year, with flanker Terrell Jackson hitting a wide open Rack for a 30-yard touchdown score and his seventh touchdown of the season. The play also went for a touchdown at Central Florida this year.
Twice in the second half – after Miami cut the lead to 28-10 – it appeared the RedHawks were going to make the game extremely interesting. Late in the third quarter, Miami drove to the Buffalo five-yard line, but sacks by Justin Winters and DuBois, who would finish with a career-high six tackles and two sacks, forced a field goal attempt. Cook pulled the 29-yard attempt wide left.
After a Buffalo punt, the RedHawks again drove down the field, but junior cornerbackDomonic Cook stripped receiver Brayden Coombs at the one-yard line and Newton recovered it and returned the ball to the 25-yard line. That's when the UB offense put on the finishing touches, with Maynard and Thermilus starring again. Maynard and Thermilus combined for 40 yads rushing before a gorgeous fake by Maynard left Thermilus all alone for a 30-yard touchdown strike. It was Maynard's 11th straight game throwing a touchdown, extending his school record.
The Bulls will close the season on Friday, November 27 at Kent State for a 2 pm kickoff.
BULL-etins: This was the 12th meeting between the teams with Miami now leading 10-2...the Bulls have won the last two meetings...the Bulls held Miami scoreless in the first quarter and are the second opponent that UB has held scoreless in the opening quarter (Akron)...the 21 points scored in the first half are tied for the second most this season. UB scored 21 against Bowling Green and had a season-high 33 points in the opening half against Gardner-Webb...the Bulls had four straight drives end in touchdowns...Terrell Jackson became the fourth UB player to throw a touchdown pass this season. It was the first time for the Bulls since 2004...the six sacks for the Bulls are the most in a game since recording six sacks against Kent State (11/4/06)...with Thermilus' 100-yard performance, the Bulls have now had three different running backs go over the 100-yard mark this season...the sack by Gordon DuBouis in the first quarter was the first of his career. Dubois had his first solo sack in the third quarter. Dubois becomes the second UB player to have two sacks in a game this season, Steven Means did it twice...the interception by Mike Newton was the 12th of his career, tying him for fourth in school history...the sack by Scott Pettigrew in the second quarter was his first career solo sack...the 31-yard touchdown rush by Thermilus was his longest run of the season...Maynard broke his career-high for rushing yards in a game, which he set last season against Miami (11/4/08)...the 23-yard run by Jeffvon Gill was his second touchdown of the season...with five solo tackles Mike Newton moves in to third place in school history with 193...A.J. Principe tied a career high with six made PATs.