Ohio (2-3, 1-0 MAC) beat Buffalo (2-4, 0-2 MAC) 21-20 in a hard-fought overtime battle, where both teams scored touchdowns in overtime but Buffalo missed the extra point.
It was Ohio’s first win at Buffalo since 2009 when it won 27-24.
The key matchup coming into the game was how Ohio’s rushing defense, inconsistent over the non-conference schedule with gap integrity and tackling issues against against good teams, would fare against Buffalo’s rushing attack, which came into the game ranked 18th in the FBS with 241 rushing yards per game.
Ohio’s rushing defense turned in its best game of the year, holding Buffalo 60 yards below its season average. Buffalo was able to run the ball in stretches but Ohio held Buffalo without explosive plays in the rushing game, allowing a game-long run of 14 yards.
The first half of the game moved by quickly, with both teams rushing the ball frequently. In the second quarter, Buffalo engineered a 15-play, 90-yard drive which lasted over eight minutes with QB Kyle Vantrease hitting WR Dominic Johnson on four-yard touchdown pass on 4th and three.
Vantrease, starting for an injured Matt Myers, did a solid job coming off the bench, passing for 197 yards and two touchdowns while adding 19 yards and a touchdown rushing. Vantrease had the rare distinction of starting at QB and punter for Buffalo, where he punted three times for a 36.7 yard average.
Ohio answered Buffalo’s scoring drive with an eight-minute, 71-yard drive of its own but it was unable to punch the ball in the end zone. On 4th and goal, Ohio’s QB Nathan Rourke threw incomplete to TE Ryan Luehrman in the back of the end zone.
The game went into halftime with a score Buffalo 7, Ohio 0.
Ohio came out to start the second half looking like a different team offensively. Led by Rourke, WR Isiah Cox, and RB O’Shaan Allison, the Bobcats mixed the run and the pass well to tie the score on a 78-yard drive capped by a five-yard TD run by Rourke.
Ohio and Buffalo traded turnovers for the remainder of the third quarter, each stopping promising drives. Buffalo’s 50-yard drive was snuffed-out at Ohio’s 22 when a fumble by Vantrease was recovered by Ohio safety Javon Hagan.
Ohio’s 53-yard drive was stopped in the red zone on an interception by Buffalo’s Kadofi Wright.
Ohio’s defense came up big with a three-and-out after Wright’s interception.
Ohio’s offense turned the ball over for the second consecutive drive on a strip-sack by Buffalo’s Malcom Koonce. Ohio’s defense was unable to hold this time as Buffalo scored on the first play after the turnover, a 34-yard strike from Vantrease to WR Antonio Nunn.
Ohio was able to tie the score at 14 when O’Shaan Allison scored on a one-yard run five minutes into the 4th quarter.
O’Shaan Allison ran the ball hard all day, finishing with a career high in rushing yards with 96. Allison also scored his first career rushing touchdown, finishing with two rushing touchdowns on the day. Ohio’s choice to stick with Allison for all but 3 carriers of the game was a change from the last few seasons where Ohio has used multiple running backs.
The overtime was set up by a pair of missed field goals.
Ohio’s K Louie Zervos’s 53-yard attempt into the wind hit the crossbar and bounced high into the air before falling back into the playing field. The wind really took a hold of that one, which looked to have plenty of leg when first kicked.
Buffalo freshman kicker Jackson Baltar missed a 46-yard attempt with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime. Baltar also missed a 24-yard field goal on the first drive of the game.
Buffalo’s RB Kevin Marks took over in overtime, moving the ball to the Ohio three on several hard runs. Marks finished the day with 112 yards and 5.1 yards per carry.
Vantrease was able to punch the ball in the end zone on a read-option from the three yard line but Buffalo missed the extra point.
Ohio handed the ball to Allison five straight plays, the last of which was a five-yard touchdown run. Ohio’s kicker Louie Zervos hit the extra point to give Ohio the 21-20 win.
Ohio returns to Athens next week for Homecoming against Northern Illinois on ESPN+ at 3:30 PM ET while Buffalo is idle. Buffalo travels to Akron to take on the Zips on October 19th, game time TBD.