Buffalo (3-4, 1-2 MAC) battled back from a 21-point deficit to stun Ohio (1-6, 1-2 MAC), taking its first lead of the contest on the game’s last play on a 26-yard FG by Alex McNulty.
Ohio dominated the first quarter, 21-0, on the back of a strong rushing attack led by QB Armani Rogers, in what was easily Ohio’s best quarter of football of the season.
Ohio’s defense imposed its will on Buffalo early, forcing two three-and-outs, stopping the Bulls for no points on a fourth down from its own one, and killing another drive on an interception by CB Roman Parodie, the first of his Bobcat career.
Ohio’s offense moved through the Bull’s defense like a hot knife through warm butter on its opening drive, on a seven play, 60-yard drive, all runs, capped by a six-yard run De’Montre Tuggle.
On its next possession, Ohio seemingly broke the game open, with Armani Rogers breaking the all-time record for longest run by a QB on the drive’s first play, streaking for a 99-yarde touchdown run. The run was confirmed by the NCAA as both the longest run and the longest scoring run by a QB in college football history, breaking the mark previously set by Arizona State’s Mark Malone (98 yards vs. Utah State) set in 1979.
The record-setting run would put the score up to 14-0 Ohio early in the first quarter.
The Bulls battled back in the second quarter, scoring 10 points to bring the game to 21-10 at halftime.
Ohio came out in the second half and marched down the field, chewing up clock and scoring three on a FG by Oklahoma transfer kicker Stephen Johnson on a 14-play drive which took over eight minutes off the clock.
Buffalo extended Ohio’s lead to 26-10 after an errant snap on a fake punt attempt resulted in a safety.
For the last quarter and a half, the Bulls offense and defense battled hard to pull the game out of the fire, scoring 17 unanswered fourth-quarter points.
The Bulls were able to run the ball much better by this point in the contest than they had in the first half, led by Bulls running back Dylan McDuffie, who finished the day with 143 yards rushing and a score.
Buffalo’s QB Kyle Vantrease was clutch down the stretch, converting multiple third downs and other big plays through the air, finishing with 261 yards passing on the day with two passing TDs.
Although the Bulls showed talent and heart down the stretch, Ohio did itself no favors at the end of the game, extending Buffalo drives with multiple penalties, finishing with ten penalties for 87 yards on the day.
Defensively, the Bulls improved significantly against the run in the latter part of the game, holding Ohio scoreless on its last three drives, including a fumble forced and recovered by Buffalo at Ohio’s 35-yard line, resulting in a Bulls TD after a seven-play drive.
For Ohio’s Rogers, the fumble was one of his few mistakes on a day otherwise filled with good decision-making and execution. Rogers finished the day with 183 yards rushing, 75 yards passing, and two rushing touchdowns.
It’s yet another heartbreaker of a loss for the Bobcats, as Ohio drops its fifth league contest by three points or less over the last two full seasons (2019 and 2021.)
This particular loss, however, is perhaps the toughest defeat in some time, as Ohio committed an offsides penalty on McNulty’s previous miss from 31-yards out to grant a retry on an untimed down. The loss also places Ohio at a treacherous six losses; one more loss over the next five weeks give the ‘Cats their first losing season since 2008, when they finished 4-8.
For Buffalo, today’s result is a saving grace, as they pick up a win in a topsy-turvy East division after two stumbles to start the league year.
The Bobcats will look to find a way to win the close ones as they host MAC East leader Kent State next Saturday at 1 p.m. Eastern time, while the Bulls travel to Akron, also on Saturday, for a tilt against an improved Zips squad at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.