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2017 Week 6 Recap: Western Michigan escapes the Buffalo Bulls, 71-68 in 7OT

A legendary seven overtime thriller ended in the Broncos’ favor, 71-68.

Buffalo v Western Michigan Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Western Michigan Broncos and the Buffalo Bulls each started the game at 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the Mid-American Conference. Only one could earn the right to be 4-2. That team would be the Broncos after a 71-68 victory in Buffalo, NY. Western Michigan has earned their fourth straight win. That win took nearly five hours in the seven overtime contest. That is tied for the longest FBS game in history.

Drew Anderson, Buffalo’s back-up quarterback, put up ridiculous numbers against the Broncos. Blown coverage from Western Michigan’s secondary allowed a lot of room for Buffalo to pass at will. Anderson went 35-for-61 and 597 yards, seven touchdowns passing, and a rushing touchdown. Anderson exceeded Buffalo’s single-game passing record of 497 yards by 100 yards. Anthony Johnson, Kamathi Holsey, and K.J. Osborn had excellent performances, catching 195, 143, and 138 yards, respectively. This game was the second time for Johnson going over 100 yards receiving this year.

Buffalo had almost no reason to run the ball. Between a wide-open passing game and a tough Bronco defensive line, passing was a much more attractive option. The Bulls finished with 86 yards rushing. Theo Anderson led Buffalo with 44 yards. Drew Anderson and Emmanuel Reed each finished with rushing touchdowns.

Kyle DeWeen punted five times for the Bulls, with one ball downed at the Bronco one-yard line. Each punt was angled away from Darius Phillips, clearly trying to prevent a big return. Adam Mitcheson handled the Bulls’ kicking efforts. He made all six extra points, but missed a 51-yard field goal in the third quarter. He made two field goals of 34 and 25 yards apiece.

Jon Wassink came out slinging passes for the Broncos. Khalil Hodge came up with an early interception, but that did not stop down Wassink. D’Wayne Eskridge led the Broncos with 97 receiving yards and a touchdown. Jon Wassink went 23-for-29 and 256 yards. He also had five touchdowns and an interception. Jarvion Franklin threw a pass for the Broncos, but was intercepted by Buffalo’s Ryan Williamson. Franklin also caught a touchdown pass.

LeVante Bellamy got the nod to start against Buffalo, making them pay with a few quick runs for a touchdown. His existing minor injury did not seem to slow him down at all. Bellamy finished with 131 yards. This was the second game of the season that Bellamy rushed over 100 yards. Jarvion Franklin rushed for 176 yards and three touchdowns, Franklin’s 17th time rushing over 100 yards. Jamauri Bogan finished with only 39 rushing yards, leaving the game injured.

Josh Grant had the honors of place-kicking for the Broncos. Grant made all six extra points and one field goal from 44 yards out. Western Michigan’s Derrick Mitchell punted four times, pinning the Bulls inside the 20-yard line twice.

Western Michigan began the scoring with a 66-yard rush from LeVante Bellamy. Buffalo responded with a very long pass, which was stripped by Sam Beal and returned about 53 yards by Stefan Claiborne. Western Michigan capitalized with a 44-yard field goal from Josh Grant. Another blown assignment from Sam Beal gave Buffalo a 64-yard touchdown from Drew Anderson to Jacob Martinez:

Buffalo again took advantage of a soft Bronco secondary on a long drive, capped by a one-yard run by Emmanuel Reed. Early in the second quarter, Jon Wassink hit D’Wayne Eskridge for a 48-yard touchdown pass. That gave Western Michigan the lead back, 17-14. When Western Michigan got the ball back, Ryan Williamson intercepted an errant pass from Jarvion Franklin.

Coming out of half-time, the Bulls drove into Bronco territory, eventually missing the Adam Mitcheson field goal attempt. Jarvion Franklin ended the Bronco’s next drive with a 20-yard touchdown catch. Early in the fourth quarter, Drew Anderson connected with Anthony Johnson for an eight-yard touchdown pass, cutting the Bronco lead to 24-21. Buffalo struck again right away on a pass from Anderson to K.J. Osborn from 54 yards out, giving the Bulls a 28-24 lead. Western Michigan responded with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Jon Wassink to Donnie Ernsberger. A long drive from Buffalo ended with a 34-yard field goal from Adam Mitcheson, tying the game at 31 each. Western Michigan drove down the field for a partially-blocked Josh Grant field goal attempt from 52 yards away, sending the game into overtime.

In the first overtime, a costly Bronco penalty for roughing the kicker came on a Buffalo field goal, giving them a fresh set of downs. Drew Anderson used that to their advantage to throw a five-yard touchdown to Kamathi Holsey. Western Michigan scored on the ensuing possession on a 14-yard pass from Wassink to Donnie Ernsberger. In a wild turn of events, Donnie’s sister stormed the field following his catch, successfully celebrating with her brother. She was ejected from the game without any penalty levied against the Broncos.

During the second overtime, the game remained excitably crazy. Keishawn Watson threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jon Wassink. Buffalo responded with an amazing catch by Anthony Johnson for another 25-yard touchdown. During third overtime, Western Michigan’s Steven Clark forced and recovered a fumble, denying Buffalo any points. On Western Michigan’s possession, Josh Grant missed the game-winning 29-yard field goal.

Fourth overtime saw the Broncos score first. Jarvion Franklin pounded it in two yards for the touchdown. Keishawn Watson got the two-point conversion on a reverse. Buffalo scored a touchdown off a four-yard pass from Drew Anderson to K.J. Osborne. Anthony Johnson threw to Drew Anderson for the two-point conversion. After four overtimes, the two teams were tied at 53 points.

Anderson and Osborne connected again for the Bulls in the fifth overtime on a 27-yard touchdown. Their two-point conversion was swatted away by the Bronco defense, despite flawless placement by Drew Anderson. On Western Michigan’s possession, Jarvion Franklin scored from six yards out. Franklin was unable to convert the two-point conversion.

To open the sixth overtime, Jon Wassink completed his pass from five yards out to Keishawn Watson. Wassink was forced to scramble on the two-point conversion attempt, but he fell a yard short. Buffalo’s Drew Anderson took advantage of the spread-out Bronco defense by rushing two yards for a touchdown. His scramble on the two-point conversion failed, however.

Buffalo’s seventh overtime drive stalled, so they settled for a 25-yard field goal from Adam Mitcheson. Jarvion Franklin responded with a game-winning twelve-yard touchdown run.

Both schools will face tough tests at home next week. Western Michigan (4-2, 2-0 MAC) will try to defend their home win streak against the Akron Zips (3-3, 2-0 MAC).

Buffalo (3-3, 1-1 MAC) will be hoping to defeat the Northern Illinois Huskies (3-2, 1-0 MAC).