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2022 MAC Football Week 2 Game Recap: Holy Cross Crusaders 37, Buffalo Bulls 31

The Bulls, an 11-point home favorite, fall to a Hail Mary prayer at the end of regulation, giving a ranked FCS club momentum going into their 2022 campaign.

NCAA Football: Holy Cross at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Holy Cross Crusaders (2-0) had just spiked the ball on the 46-yard line of the Buffalo Bulls (0-2) with three seconds remaining in the game, trying to navigate their way to wards the endzone after a 52-yard field goal from Buffalo’s kicker Alex McNulty on the previous possession tied the game up at 31.

With no timeouts remaining, and being too far out to attempt a field goal, all that was left to do for the visiting Crusaders was to heave the ball down the field in a last-ditch attempt to hit paydirt to prevent the overtime period.

Matthew Sluka (13-of-21 for 239 yards, three touchdowns) took the snap out of shotgun, and scanned the field, as the pocket preserved long enough for him to find Jalen Coker (four receptions, 148 yards, two touchdowns) amongst the sea of blue jerseys, 45 yards from the line of scrimmage. Coker snagged the ball, then rolled one yard over the goal line to seal an unbelievable walk-off touchdown.

The Crusaders would claim their second-straight season with a victory over an FBS team with that answered Hail mary prayer, taking down the Buffalo Bulls at home by a final score of 37-31.

It was a result which certainly didn’t feel like it was in the cards early on, as Buffalo raced out to an early 21-7 lead with 2:50 remaining in the first half on the back of a 59-yard Cole Snyder pass to Quian Williams. At such a critical juncture, Holy Cross composed themselves and led a spirited seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped off by a Sluke pass to Ayir Asante pass from 17 yards out to bring the halftime total to 21-14 in favor of the hosts.

Holy Cross would tie it back up halfway through the third quarter, with a two-yard Jordan Fuller run to finish off a strong 14-play, 75-yard drive lasting over seven-and-a-half minutes, placing pressure right back onto Buffalo to perform.

It took exactly 11 seconds of game clock for the Bulls to do just that, as Justin Marshall beat his man for a 69-yard receiving touchdown to give Buffalo the lead once more at 28-21.

Not to be outdone, Holy Cross would pull off a one-play touchdown drive of their own, with Matthew Skula finding Jalen Coker open for a 62-yard strike to once again tie the game up at 28-all with 2:32 remaining in the third quarter.

The Crusaders weren’t done there. After giving UB a scare by getting inside the 10-yard line on a long, sustained drive lasting 12 plays for 59 yards, Derek Ng trotted out to kick a field goal from 28 yards out to give HC their first lead at 31-28 with 7:12 remaining.

Buffalo returned the favor with 31 seconds remaining, having to settle for a field goal on fourth-and-10 from the Holy Cross 34. Alex McNulty evened the game at 31-all with a 52-yard boot from the left hash, giving the Bulls a chance to potentially hold on in overtime.

Or so they thought, as Holy Cross found 29 yards in four plays to set up what would be the ultimate walk-off winner with triple-zeros on the clock.

For Buffalo, Cole Snyder finished 23-of-34 for 305 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions in his home debut. The Bulls had two 100-yard receivers on the day, with Justin Marshall (five receptions, 116 yards, two scores) and Quian Williams (eight receptions, 105 yards, one score) topping the charts. No other receiver had more than 32 yards or two catches. On the ground, Mike Washington (12 rushes, 56 yards, one score) had lead back responsibilities, while Ron Cook Jr. had 33 yards on six carries.

Shaun Dolac paced a busy Buffalo defense on Saturday, with 15 tackles, a tackle-for-loss and a sack on the night. James Patterson was close behind, with 11 tackles, including a tackle-for-loss. Marcus Fuqua and Jamhim Muse each had a pass break-up. George Wolo also notched a solo sack on six tackles.

Jackson Balthar had a rough night at the office, with three punts for 88 yards (an average of 29.3 per), with a long of 52 yards. QB Cole Snyder had one pooch punt for 56 yards. Alex McNulty attempted one field goal, from 52 yards out, and made it.

Holy Cross exploded on offense, with Matthew Sluka’s 238 passing yards and three touchdowns in the air pairing with 25 rushes for 146 yards to make him the dymano of the Crusaders attack. Jordan Fuller (10 carries, 51 yards) had both of HC’s rushing scores, while Jalen Coker led the receiving attack with 148 yards on four receptions, scoring twice. No other receiver had more than 30 yards or three catches.

Defensively, Jacob Dobbs (11 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss) led the Holy Cross tackle charts, with Devin Haskins (seen tackles, three pass break-ups) showing up effectively in coverage. Liam Anderson and Dan Kuznetsov combined for a sack and tackle-for-loss.

Patrick Haughney had five punts for 215 yards, with two inside-the-20, and two punts of over 50 yards. Derek Ng had one field goal attempt from 28 yards out, making it.

Buffalo will hit the road in Week 3, meeting the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in Conway, South Carolina for a 1 p.m. Eastern kick off on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Holy Cross, who will likely shoot up the FCS rankings after coming in to tonight’s game #15 in the country, will host Yale of the Ivy League for a 2 p.m. kick on Saturday, Sept. 17.