Eagles Rebound to Down Bulls, 30-17, despite Oliver’s big day
YPSILANTI, MI – Had Buffalo head coach Jeff Quinn known that his team would have held Eastern Michigan's vaunted running game to less than 180 yards he would have felt very good about his team's chances of winning at Rynearson Stadium.
What he didn't count on was EMU quarterback Alex Gillett completing 10-of-15 passes for 234 yards and four touchdowns. That factor was the difference as the Eagles twice overcame second half deficits to defeat the Bulls, 30-17 before 3,830 fans.
The Bulls wasted another superb effort by sophomore tailback Branden Oliver and a stout defensive effort against the run, including a career-high eight tackles by sophomore defensive end Colby Way and a game-high 10 tackles by junior linebacker Jaleel Verser. Too many defensive breakdowns and six sacks given up by the offense outshone the positives.
"We won't start winning until we learn to stop beating ourselves," said Quinn after the loss. "We made too many mistakes that really cost us the game. We hold a team that's averaged about 240 yards a game rushing to under 180 and then we give up plays (in the passing game). There were broken coverages…we've got to do a better job on the back end, we've got to communicate better, it's all part of it.
Oliver became just the fifth Bulls player in history to go over 1,000 yards in a season and did in dramatic style. The sophomore burst through a hole on the right side midway through the third quarter and ran untouched 68 yards for a touchdown. He joined James Starks (twice), O.D. Underwood, Alan Bell and Anthony Swan as the only Bulls to do so. His touchdown gave the Bulls a 17-16 lead in a back and forth second half that started with Oliver giving UB its first lead.
The sophomore from Miami, FL, who finished with 133 yards on 18 carries, capped a 58-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run to give Buffalo a 10-9 lead with 8:59 left in the third quarter. Oliver had a 19-yard run earlier in the drive, while flanker Ed Young had an 11-yard run on a reverse.
Eastern would retake the lead on a 67-yard pass from Gillett to Demarius Reed on the next possession. The Bulls responded in quick strike fashion when Oliver burst through a hole on the right side created by right tackle Gokhan Ozkan, tight end Aaron Connacher and wideout Marcus Rivers going a career-long 68 yards for the score. Oliver now has 1,033 yards on the season, the fifth-best total in school history.
However, the Eagles, who improved to 6-4 on the year and 4-2 in the Mid-American Conference, had an answer. Gillett connected again with Reed, this time from 11 yards out and EMU had the lead back for good. Gillett would add a 34-yard score to Garrett Hoskins, his second of the day to close the scoring.
UB quarterback Chazz Anderson would 18-of-31 passes for 137 yards but was sacked a season-high six times. His favorite target was Devon Hughes, who had a career-high five receptions for 33 yards. UB struggled badly on third down in the game, going 1-for-13, while EMU was 7-for-16.
Defensively for the Bulls, inside linebacker Lee Skinner and Fred Branch added eight tackles apiece as the Bulls did not allow a 100-yard rusher against Eastern's running game, which came in ranked 15th in the country.
The Bulls were greatly outgained in the first quarter but emerged trailing just 3-0 due to outstanding punting by senior Jacob Schum into a stiff breeze. Buffalo was outgained 98-21 but the only scoring was a 38-yard field goal by Kody Fulkerson with 7:04 left in the first quarter.
EMU extended the lead early in the second quarter when Gillett hit Hoskins from two yards out. The drive stayed alive due to a pair of interference calls against the Bulls. The PAT was blocked by Steven Means and the score remained 9-0 with 11:50 left in the half.
The Bulls cut into the lead with an excellent two-minute drill drive to end the first half. Buffalo drove 62 yards in 13 plays with Anderson completing six passes, including two for 27 yards to Oliver and freshman kicker Patrick Clarke came into drill a 43-yard field goal with :04 left in the half. It was Clarke's first career field goal on his first attempt.
BULL-etins: The captains for Buffalo were Michigan natives Cory Jorgensen and Jaleel Verser as well as Ed Young and Colby Way… the 43-yard field goal by Patrick Clarke was the longest by a Bull since A.J. Principe booted a 49-yard field goal vs. Ball State exactly one year ago (11/12/10)…sophomore tailback Branden Oliver's 18 carries moved him into the career top ten list. He now ranks ninth in school history with 345 carries in just two seasons…Oliver's two touchdowns gave him 10 for the year, tied for the eighth most in school history…Oliver's sixth 100-yard game is tied for the third most in a single season, just one behind Anthony Swan (1996) and O.D. Underwood (1986) who both had seven…his 243 carries this season are fourth most in a season…Marcus Rivers four catches give him 55 on the season, tied for 10th most in a single season with Pat Whitehead (1982)…Chazz Anderson now has 195 completions on the season, tied for seventh most in a single season. Only six UB quarterbacks in history have had over 200 completions in a season.