November 26, 2010
Zips Hold Off Bulls, 22-14, as Shannon Breaks All-Time Tackle Mark
AKRON, OH – The University at Buffalo senior class, which has done so much to raise the national profile of the Bulls' football program, nearly went out in storybook fashion at InfoCision Stadium on Saturday.
However, despite recovering an onside kick in the final two minutes and driving to the Akron 17-yard line, the Bulls fell by a 22-14 score before 5,216 fans as quarterback Jerry Davis was forced into a fumble with the Zips recovering in the final minute.
The Bulls had scored with 1:55 left when freshman receiver Alex Neutz
scored his second touchdown of the game. Buffalo senior placekicker A.J. Principe
then hit a perfect onside kick that the Bulls' Okoye Houston
recovered at their own 38-yard line.
Davis then hit tailback Jeffvon Gill
for a 17-yard completion and Neutz for a 28-yard gain to set Buffalo up at the Zips 17-yard line. However, on first-and-10 Davis was stripped by linebacker Brian Wagner and the Zips recovered and were able to run out the clock and get their first win of the year.
"Very disappointing way to end a year that's been an up and down year," said head coach Jeff Quinn. "The kids played hard but again today we saw the turnovers, penalties and mental mistakes that get teams beat in this game. You just can't afford to make those mistakes and come out and win in the Mid-American Conference."
Buffalo was led by senior tailback Ike Nduka
in his final game in the Blue and White. Nduka finished with 86 yards on 22 carries and another 59 yards on three receptions. Defensively, senior free safety Davonte Shannon
became the school's all-time leader in tackles, breaking a record that had stood for 14 years. With eight tackles, Shannon passed all-time great Craig Guest (1993-96) who had 455 tackles in his tremendous career. Shannon finished his record-breaking career with a school record 461 total tackles as well as first all-time in solo tackles with 258.
About Shannon's record, Quinn said, "Davonte has done a great job for us, he set the benchmark and it's a very special accomplishment because there have been so many great players that have played before him. It's a tribute to him and all the players he has played with that have allowed him to accomplish such a great honor."
After trailing 12-0 at halftime, the Bulls offense came to life after a key defensive play on Akron's first offensive series of the second half. Alex Allen was stripped by UB linebacker Justin Winters with fellow senior Josh Thomas recovering at the UB 17-yard line.
Buffalo then embarked on a 12-play, 83-yard drive to cut the Zips deficit to 12-7. Quarterback Jerry Davis completed all five of his passes on the drive, including a 19-yard pass to Ike Nduka on third-and-six and a six-yard pickup on fourth-and-one to Jimmy Gordon
. The drive capper came on a 13-yard pass from Davis to Neutz. It was Neutz' third touchdown catch of the season and came with 3:31 left in the third quarter.
However, the Zips regained control of the game on the ensuing drive when Nicely hit two crucial passes. On third-and-10 from his own 42-yard line, Nicely hit Jalil Carter for 42 yards to the UB 16-yard line. Then on third-and-nine at the UB 15, Nicely hit Gary Pride for 15 yards in the left corner of the end zone to give Akron a 19-7 lead with 1:30 left in the third quarter.
The Zips added a 39-yard field goal with 10:45 remaining in the fourth quarter and appeared in complete control with a 22-7 lead and the ball in the final five minutes. However, freshman safety Okoye Houston threw tailback Alex Allen for a nine-yard loss at the Buffalo 28-yard line and the Zips ended up giving the ball up on downs with 2:44 remaining.
Davis wasted no time in taking Buffalo 71 yards in just four plays to put them right back in the game. Davis hit Nduka on a 35-yard screen pass, freshman tight end Jimmy Gordon down the middle for 18 and capped the drive with another scoring strike to Neutz from 18 yards out.
Davis finished the game 19-of-34 for 268 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Neutz finished with five receptions for 88 yards, while Gordon had career highs of five receptions and 54 yards after taking over for injured starter Mike Marr
Defensively, senior linebacker Justin Winters led Buffalo with nine tackles in his final game – finishing his career among UB's top ten in both total tackles and solo stops.
MAC Freshman of the Year candidate Khalil Mack was active on Akron's first series. He made a tackle on Alex Allen for a short gain and hit quarterback Patrick Nicely just as he was releasing the ball to force a punt. The freshman finished with seven tackles (six solos), 1.5 tackles for loss and two pass breakups.
Buffalo's defense shone in the first half, despite Akron having outstanding field position with the wind advantage, Buffalo forced punts on the Zips' first four possessions.
The first big break of the game came in the final six minutes of the first half. Buffalo punter Jacob Schum
had his punt blocked with the Zips recovering at the UB 19-yard line. Akron converted when Patrick Nicely hit Jalil Carter from eight yards out for the score. The PAT was missed and Akron led 6-0 with 4:20 left in the first half.
The Zips extended the lead after a miscue by the Buffalo offense. Marcus Rivers had a pass deflect off his fingers into the hands of safety Josh Richmond who returned it 23 yards to the UB 39-yard line Nicely would then hit Jeremy LaFrance for a 31-yard touchdown pass with :34 left in the half to send the Zips to halftime with 12-0 lead after another missed PAT kick.
Justin Winters, Mike Marr, Jerry Housey
and A.J. Principe served as captains for the game…Steven Means
registered a sack in the first quarter to bring his season total to 4.5…Ike Nduka's 86 yards rushing were the most by a UB running back this season…Jimmy Gordon didn't have a catch entering today's game. He had five catches for 54 yards against Akron…with 1.5 tackles for loss against the Zips, Khalil Mack moved into 10th place in school history in single-season tackles for loss with 14.5…with his fifth career forced fumble in the third quarter, Justin Winters moved into a tie for sixth place in school history…Jerry Davis threw his 15th
touchdown passes of the season to move into a tie for sixth place in school history for single-season touchdown passes…with his two extra points, A.J. Principe finished his career with 265 points, the most in school history.