Bulls Zap the Zips With Late-Scoring Drive
BUFFALO, NY – The Buffalo football team overcame a fourth quarter deficit and stormed back to claim a 21-17 victory over visiting Akron on a record-setting day for senior wide receiverNaaman Roosevelt. The win was the second straight for the Bulls, who improved to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the MAC in front of 13,750 fans at UB Stadium.
Roosevelt caught a career-high 12 catches for 100 yards, but none was bigger than a 16-yard strike from sophomore quarterback Zach Maynard, while absorbing a huge hit, to take the ball to the Akron one-yard line, setting up a touchdown byMario Henry with 5:59 left in the game. Maynard finished the game 20-of-35 passing for 205 yards and a pair of touchdowns, giving him 13 touchdowns on the year.
The Bulls closed the game out with an interception by juniorDomonic Cook at the UB 22-yard line which he returned 55 yards to effectively end the game with 1:32 left.
"It's great to win. I'm proud of this football team. It's good to see a football team come together and have games like this where things are maybe a little bit rough, they're struggling, but then you find a way to win," said head coach Turner Gill. "There was a phase in every part of the game where guys needed to step up, and they did step up. That's what you have to do if you want to be a good football team and if you're trying to win championships. You have to play well when things aren't going so well."
Roosevelt, who finished the game with 250 career receptions, also became the first Bull in school history to go over 5,000 all-purpose yards.
"It's a great feeling, especially with a win," said Roosevelt. "The good thing is getting a win and going from there. I'm not really focused on the records or anything like that, I'm just focused on getting the win."
The Bulls had led the game 14-7 in the second half, before the Zips scored 10 unanswered points to take a 17-14 lead on a Branko Rogovic 30-yard field goal with 9:57 left in the game.
However, on the ensuing possession, Maynard led the Bulls on his first fourth quarter comeback drive. Maynard completed a 13-yard pass to senior Brett Hamlin – who had five catches for 76 yards – and another 15-yarder to Roosevelt. After Henry, who came off the bench to lead the Bulls with 62 yards rushing, ripped off two runs for 15 yards, Maynard hit Roosevelt down the right sideline for a 16-yard strike to set up the winning score. Henry powered in behind center Josh Violanti, left guard Peter Bittner and left tackle Jordan Jerrold.
Buffalo scored first in the second half to break a 7-7 deadlock. The UB defense stiffened – with Sherrod Lott adding a four-yard loss on tailback Torrence DeVoe – and forced a punt from their own end zone which was downed at the Akron 43-yard line.
The Bulls needed six plays to take the lead. Maynard hit Hamlin on a deep cross for 24 yards and then Henry gained 18 yards on two carries. The drive stayed alive on an Akron pass interference call against Roosevelt, and Maynard capped the drive on a third-and-five from the Akron 8, with a crossing pattern to Roosevelt that looked like a carbon copy of their first half touchdown. It was Roosevelt's 25th touchdown reception of his career.
On the next possession, the Zips drove to the Bulls' 37-yard line, when cornerback Josh Thomas came up huge breaking up a deep pass for Andre Jones near the end zone.
The Zips, however, would bounce back to eventually tie and take the lead before UB's offense stepped up to win the game.
The Bulls' defense came up big throughout the game, forcing three turnovers, including two huge plays by senior safetyMike Newton, who finished the game with eight tackles, going over 300 for his career.
The two teams had played a scoreless first quarter despite turnovers by both teams. The Zips had a golden opportunity after an interception by Manley Waller at the Bulls' 25-yard line. However, after driving inside the 10-yard line, Buffalo got a huge turnover of its own as defensive tackle Anel Montanezjarred the ball loose from Torrence, with Newton recovering at the five-yard line.
However, the Bulls couldn't move the ball and punted giving Akron great field position, taking over at the UB 35-yard line. This time the Zips took advantage, with an advantageous bounce. Quarterback Patrick Nicely had the ball jarred loose by linebacker Scott Pettigrewinside the UB five-yard line, but the ball was recovered in the end zone by Akron offensive guard Mike Ward. The Zips led 7-0 with 14:47 left in the half.
Roosevelt played a huge role in the Bulls' tying touchdown score, breaking the school mark for receptions in the process. Maynard had a 17-yard run to start the drive, before the two connected on a 20-yard pass to the Akron five-yard line, which set the mark surpassing Drew Haddad (1996-99). Maynard then hit Roosevelt for a seven-yard dart across the middle to put the Bulls in the end zone for the first tine. After an A.J. Principe PAT kick, the teams were tied at 7-7 with 8:47 left in the half.
The Bulls' defense made another huge "red zone" stop to preserve the 7-7 tie. After the Zips drove to the UB 18-yard line, Newton made another huge play. Nicely threw towards the end zone and Thomas deflected the ball, with Newton intercepting it in the end zone for the touchback. It was Newton's second turnover captured in the game and was his 11th career interception.
UB's defense also got huge games from safety Davonte Shannon and linebacker Justin Winters, who both had 10 tackles. Shannon also hit the 300-tackle plateau in his career – becoming the first junior since Craig Guest (1993-96) to reach that total. Pettigrew added six tackles, a forced fumble and a pass breakup, while freshman defensive end Steven Means had two sacks for the second straight game, for a total of 23 yards in losses.
Buffalo travels to Western Michigan next Saturday for a 2 pm kickoff.
BULL-etins: This was the 11th meeting between the teams, with Akron now leading 8-3...the Bulls have won the last three straight meetings, including a pair of wins at UB Stadium (26-10 in 2007 and today)...left tackle Jordan Jerrold made his first start of the season, but the 20th of his career...Mike Newton had the 13th and 14th turnover captures (third fumble recovery plus 11 interceptions) in his career, which ties him for sixth on UB's all-time list...it was the fourth forced fumble of Montanez's career...it was the second forced fumble of year (and career) for Scott Pettigrew...with 12 receptions in today's game, Naaman Roosevelt takes over the top spot on UB's all-time career receptions list with 250. 12 receptions in a game is a new career-high for Roosevelt. Roosevelt had 100 yards receiving in today's game - his 13th game with more than 100 yards receiving...it was the second time this year that Bulls had a player with 12 receptions in a game (Brett Hamlin vs. Pittsburgh)...quarterback Zach Maynard has now thrown a touchdown pass in all seven games this season...Mike Newton had the 300th tackle of his career and now has 307 for his career (fifth-place all-time). He also has 177 solo tackles, fifth-best all-time, and collected his 11th career interception and is now tied for seventh on UB's all-time career interceptions list...senior tailback Mario Henry had a career-best 20 rushing attempts...cornerback Domonic Cook recorded the fourth interception of his career to preserve the win...punter Peter Fardon had a career-best four punts downed inside the 20-yard line.