It all started with a safety.
On an attempt to tie the game at seven apiece, Buffalo quarterback Kyle Vantrease was met directly by Eastern Michigan strong safety Brody Hoying at the 1-yard line. What seemed to be a missed opportunity would soon be the spark behind Buffalo’s third-consecutive victory.
Backed up against his own end zone with little breathing room, Eastern Michigan quarterback Mike Glass ran into his own lineman and defensive end Ledarius Mack pounced on the Eagles’ passer for a safety. Buffalo continued to roll for the remainder of the afternoon in Ypsilanti, coasting to a 43-14 victory behind 43 unanswered.
Eastern Michigan’s offense looked sharp in the early going, as Glass fired a rocket for the first score of the game. A wide-open Mathew Sexton caught Glass’ bomb down the left side of the field, and the wideout — who has scored 2-game winning touchdowns for the Eagles this year — shed a tackler and sprinted 80 yards for a touchdown.
But following the safety, Jaret Patterson and the Bulls’ offense had their way until the clock winded down to triple zeros. Patterson accumulated a game-high 160 rushing yards, marking his fourth performance of over 130 yards this season. He also contributed to the scoring effort with two touchdowns in the second half, keeping Buffalo’s foot on the gas after a 29-7 halftime advantage.
That advantage was created by the duo of Kyle Vantrease and Antonio Nunn. Vantrease passed for 208 yards and a touchdown, finding Nunn for an over-the-shoulder catch in the back corner of the end zone toward the end of the second quarter. Out of Vantrease’s four targets he connected with Saturday, Nunn caught a team-best seven passes for 87 yards.
Vantrease did some damage with his legs as well. After coming up short a 4th-and-goal run in the first quarter, Vantrease amended that mistake in the second quarter. On a crucial 4th-and-1 while his team led 9-7, Vantrease tricked the entire Eagles’ defense with a 16-yard naked bootleg — an unexpected play call by Lance Leipold.
The touchdown was a result of beneficial field position caused by a fumbled snap on an Eastern Michigan punt — a crucial mistake which expedited the Bulls’ scoring effort.
Buffalo also received key contributions on offense by running back Kevin Marks (100 yards from scrimmage, one touchdown) and tight end Zac Lefebvre (40 receiving yards). Buffalo’s 43 points were the most of the season and the highest mark achieved by the program since a November 23 win over Bowling Green in 2018.
Eastern Michigan’s offense struggled following the safety. Glass left the game and never returned, forcing Preston Hutchinson to line up under center. Hutchinson completed 9-of-15 passes for 90 yards, throwing an interception at the beginning of a lopsided fourth quarter. The Eagles were limited to just six first downs, 25 rushing yards, and 105 passing yards excluding Sexton’s touchdown. Buffalo hogged the possession, recording 41:36 of game time on offense. Eastern Michigan’s inability to slow down the star tandem of Patterson and Marks kept the Bulls in control for the final three quarters of the game.
Buffalo improves to 5-4 after winning its third-straight game by over 20 points. Meanwhile, Eastern Michigan’s bowl prospects took a hit with its fifth loss of the year, dropping to 4-5 at The Factory. Both the Eagles and Bulls hit the road after a quick bye week to face Akron and Kent State, respectively, in weeknight action in Week 12.