AMHERST, N.Y. — The Bowling Green State University football team was forced into an offensive shootout against the University at Buffalo Tuesday night.
And the Falcons simply could not keep pace in suffering a 38-28 loss to the Bulls at UB Stadium.
Bowling Green surrendered 582 yards of total offense, including 406 yards through the air, in suffering a loss that dropped their season’s record to 2-8 overall and 2-4 in the Mid-American Conference.
“We had trouble covering on multiple occasions,” Bowling Green coach Mike Jinks said of his team’s pass defense. “It was [everything]. It was obvious [Buffalo quarterback Tyree] Jackson wasn’t going to run the ball. …
“But we had to do a better job of getting to him and covering on the back end.”
Jackson completed 23-of-37 passes in the game for 406 yards and three touchdowns as Buffalo improved to 4-6 overall and 2-4 in the MAC. His favorite receiver was Anthony Johnson, who caught eight passes for 160 yards and two scores.
The Bulls’ first score was set up by a Bowling Green mistake in the shadow of its own goal line. The Falcons started their second drive of the game on their own 1, and on the drive’s second play Buffalo’s Justin Brandon stripped the ball out of Josh Cleveland’s hands for a fumble Brandon recovered on BG’s 6.
Two plays later, Emmanuel Reed scored on a five-yard run.
The Falcons responded with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that saw Jarrett Doege throw a 29-yard TD pass to Quintin Morris with 4:41 left in first quarter.
“There were a couple of plays we left out there in the first quarter,” Jinks said of Doege, who completed 28-of-43 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. “Then he got it going and gained his confidence in the second quarter, and I thought he played well in the second half.”
But then the implosion of BG’s pass defense began. Jackson threw a 51-yard pass to Kamathi Holsey that set up a 21-yard TD pass to Johnson with 3:20 still to play.
After a three-and-out by the Falcons, Jackson threw a deep pass that Johnson caught and ran untouched 69 yard for a touchdown that gave the Bulls a 21-7 advantage with 1:27 still to play in the opening period.
In the first quarter Jackson completed 5-of-8 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns; Johnson caught three passes for 91 yards and two scores, while Holsey collected two catches for 65 yards.
“I said last week that I thought they were the best receiving corps in the MAC,” said Bowling Green safety Marcus Milton, who had six tackles. “We needed to win the ball in the air, and we needed to win at the line.
“And we also needed to understand where our coverage was.”
From there the two teams exchanged turnovers. Bowling Green got the first break as Milton tackled Reed and forced a fumble that Milton recovered on the Bulls’ 46.
But on the next play the Falcons’ Scottie Miller, carrying the ball on a reverse, fumbled the ball and Buffalo’s Jarrett Franklin on the UB 41.
“I thought this was one of our best games offensively,” said Miller, who caught 10 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. “I thought Jarret played well, and I thought our receivers were making plays.
“But we had a couple of turnovers – and mine was a bad one. We didn’t take care of the ball, and you can’t do that. If we didn’t turn the ball over and cleaned up a few things, I thought we could have scored 40 points.”
Just before halftime Buffalo seemed poised to take a three-touchdown lead as they drove to the Bowling Green 2. But Brandon Harris forced Reed to fumble just before reaching the end zone, and Gus Schwieterman recovered on the BG 2.
With just 3:48 left before halftime, the Falcons then drove 98 yards on a 13-play drive that saw Doege connect on 6-of-9 passes for 55 yards, setting up a two-yard touchdown by Andrew Clair with just 36 seconds on the clock.
But any momentum the Falcons took into halftime quickly dissipated as Buffalo took the second-half kickoff and raced 78 yards on just four plays. Theo Anderson had a 26-yard run before Jackson hit K.J. Osborn with a 37-yard scoring pass less than two minutes into the third quarter.
The Falcons were handed a gift on the ensuing kickoff as Buffalo’s short kick was returned 22 yards to the BG 43, and a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Bulls set up the Falcons on UB’s 42. Nine plays later Doege threw a jump ball into the end zone that Teo Redding caught for a nine-yard TD pass at the 10:14 mark of the period.
Buffalo responded with a drive down to the Falcons’ 15, but the BG defense held and UB’s Adam Mitcheson missed a 32-yard field goal.
Bowling Green drove to midfield but was forced to punt, and the Bulls again drove down the field before settling for a field goal. This time Mitcheson connected on a 31-yard boot that gave Buffalo a 31-21 lead at the 13:32 mark of the fourth quarter.
But the Falcons were not done, using just four plays to rumble 66 yards for a touchdown. And Andrew Clair, a freshman, carried the ball twice for 23 yards while Doege, also a freshman completed both passes he threw, including a two-yard scoring strike to Scottie Miller with 12:04 still to play.
Clair finished with 85 rushing yards on 18 carries.
Problem is, the Bulls were not done scoring, either, covering 67 yards on seven plays, with Theo Anderson running eight yards for a TD with 8:53 still to play. Anderson finished with 133 yards on 22 carries, with 120 of those yards coming in the second half.
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