October 22, 2011
Northern Illinois Holds Off Furious Bulls Comeback to Win 31-30
Chazz Anderson Touchdown Run
Anderson Touchdown Pass To Alex Neutz
Anderson Touchdown Pass To Marcus Rivers
Anderson Touchdown Pass To Ed Young
BUFFALO, NY – On days like this, football can seem the cruelest game.
The University at Buffalo football team made one of its greatest comebacks in its Division I history, nearly erasing a 21-point fourth quarter deficit, including scoring what appeared to be the touchdown to send the game into overtime against perennial Mid-American Conference power Northern Illinois.
And then just like that, with the miss of an extra point, Buffalo found itself a 31-30 loser, despite a 572-328 advantage in total offense and an astounding 33-15 edge in first downs. In the end, Buffalo's five turnovers, including some crucial miscues on special teams, spelled the one point difference in a loss to the Huskies, who improved to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the MAC.
Buffalo lost despite one of its finest efforts on offense since joining the MAC in 1999. Senior quarterback Chazz Anderson
had an all-time record-breaking afternoon. He completed a school-record 35 passes (on 53 attempts, the fourth highest-total in school history) for a Division I-A record 404 yards, the eighth best total in school history. In addition, his 460 yards of total offense are the most by a UB player since joining the MAC and second only to Cliff Scott all time (who accounted for 536 yards versus New Haven in 1992) Anderson accounted for four touchdowns, throwing three and running for another.
His favorite target on the day was Marcus Rivers who matched his career-high with 10 catches for 114 yards, while Alex Neutz had nine receptions for a career-best 135 yards. The two became the first Bulls' players since Naaman Roosevelt and Brett Hamlin went over 100 yards vs. Pittsburgh in 2009.
Tailback Branden Oliver
had another monster game as well. The sophomore ran for 112 yards on 26 carries – to go over 100 yards for the fifth time this season – two off the school record of seven. He added a career-best seven receptions for 82 yards to account for 194 all-purpose yards.
The Buffalo defense, meanwhile, held the potent NIU offense that averaged over 412 yards per game to just 328 yards. Freshman linebacker Lee Skinner had a career-high 10 tackles to lead that unit, while another freshman, Cortney Lester added nine tackles and two pass breakups. Both Jaleel Verser and Khalil Mack had two tackles for loss as the Bulls racked up seven in the game.
It looked bleak for the Bulls early in the second half. After trailing 17-10 at intermission, the Huskies extended the lead to 31-10 on two quick touchdowns to start the second half and it stayed that way into the fourth quarter.
That's when the Bulls offense kicked into another gear, scoring three times in four fourth quarter possessions, keeping each drive alive with crucial fourth down conversions. Buffalo was 4-for-4 on fourth down conversions on the day, none bigger than a fourth-and-four left-handed throw from Anderson to Ed Young
for 18 yards that set up an eventual five-yard touchdown pass from Anderson to Neutz with 12:38 left in the game.
After Buffalo's defensive forced two straight three-and-outs, Buffalo scored again on a four-play 55-yard drive. This time it was Rivers who made a touchdown catch in the right corner of the end zone on a gorgeous throw from Anderson. Now UB trailed, 31-24, after the PAT, with 4:14 remaining.
The UB defense again did not give up a first down and got the Bulls the ball back at their own 12-yard line with 2:49 remaining. Anderson coolly took his team down the field, completing a clutch fourth-and-10 pass to Neutz for 16 yards on a slant pattern to keep the drive alive. Another Anderson throw for 15 yards to Rivers gave Buffalo first-and-goal and, the Bulls pulled within one point when Anderson hit Ed Young from three yards out with just :14 left.
However the pandemonium last only a few seconds as the missed PAT would deny the chance for the Bulls to force overtime and pull the upset over the heavily-favored Huskies.
"I did find that I do have a football team that is going to fight," said head coach Jeff Quinn. "Chazz made some plays today when things weren't quite there, and he was able to make those plays. We were 4-for-4 on fourth downs, which were huge to keep us in the game. To be down 31-10 and come back says we have a group of kids who care about this football team and this program and each other."
The Bulls travel to Oxford, OH next weekend to take on defending MAC champion Miami at Yager Stadium. Kickoff is 3:30 pm.
BULL-etins: Colby Way
's blocked field goal in the first quarter was the team's fourth blocked kick of the season on special teams…Jaleel Verser had a monster first quarter, recording two tackles for loss and a pass breakup. For the game, the junior had six tackles (two for loss) and a pass breakup…with his three-yard sneak to score late in the second quarter, quarterback Chazz Anderson now has four rushing touchdowns this season…the four scores are the most by a Buffalo quarterback in the program's Division I-A history. He showed tremendous poise under pressure all afternoon, pulling the ball down 10 times for 56 yards on the ground…Anderson continues to excel on offense at home, completing 35 passes for a career-high 404 yards in the game…he total is the most ever by a UB quarterback in Division I-A history, passing Zach Maynard's total of 400 against Pitt in 2009…his 35 completions are a school record, passing Drew Willy's 34 set in 2007…at UB Stadium, Anderson has averaged 276 passing yards compared to 152 yards in road games…as a team, Buffalo has been chugging along offensively at home, averaging 435.8 yards at UB Stadium compared to 293.8 total yards on the road. The team gained 572 yards on Saturday, surpassing the season high of 510 set just two weeks ago against Ohio and setting a new Division I-A record. It was the fifth time ever UB has gained over 500 yards on offense…running back Branden Oliver made some noise in the receiving game, setting career highs after just the first two quarters. The sophomore hauled in five catches in the first half to tie a career high, racking up 59 yards in the process to set a new career high. He also rushed for 48 yards in the first half and wound up with 194 total yards for the game (112 running, 82 passing). He now has five games with over 100 yards rushing this season…Cortney Lester set a new career high in total tackles, making nine stops. He also had two pass breakups. Lee Skinner led all UB defenders with 10 tackles, a new career best for the redshirt freshman…sophomore wideout Alex Neutz put together a handful of acrobatic catches Saturday afternoon, making 9 for a career-high 135 yards and a touchdown. It was his second 100+ yard receiving day of the season, with the first coming in the season opener at Pitt…three Buffalo receivers went for over 80 yards on the day – Alex Neutz (135), Marcus Rivers (114) and Branden Oliver (82). It is the first time in the program's Division I-A history it has occurred. Rivers matched his previous career high in catches, with 10. Four receivers caught seven passes, another program Division I-A record.