The Buffalo Bulls (0-3) caught the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (3-0) sleeping early in the game, and even managed to build up a lead on the strength of several turnvoers, but it was not meant to be, as a late Chants touchdown on a 59-yard screen pass on third-and-17 sealed any hopes of a comeback in a 38-26 loss on Saturday afternoon in Conway, South Carolina.
Buffalo got started right away, as Shaun Dolac pried the ball loose from the hands of Reese White on the very first play from scrimmage, with James Patterson recovering to give UB the offensive possession. The Bulls would exchange it for points on a Alex McNulty field goal from 36 yards out to take an initial 3-0 lead.
The two teams traded fumbles on the ensuing possessions, with Coastal Carolina taking advantage of their recovery to score their first points of the day on a Grayson McCall connection to Jacon Jenkins from 34 yards out to go up 7-3 halfway through the first quarter.
After exchanging punts on two short drives, Buffalo called upon Alex McNulty once again to score points, this time from 47 yards out, to narrow the gap to 7-6 prior to the end of the first quarter. McNulty would give the Bulls the lead once again at 9-7 to end a 15-play, 68-yard drive lasting over seven minutes midway through the second quarter on a drive gifted to UB after recovering another CCU fumble.
The Chants saw yet another drive end in a fumble, as Ty Lyles dropped the ball and Buffalo’s Caleb Offord picked it up. The CCU defense would bow up on the next play, however, with D’Jordan Strong delivering an interception of Cole Snyder to give CCU new life at the UB 10 after a 38-yard return.
CJ Beasley would get the first carry, scoring from 10 yards out to put CCU back up 14-9 with 5:48 remaining in the first half.
Buffalo would regain the lead just before the end of the half, hurrying up on a six-play, 80-yard drive which ended with a 15-yard touchdown reception for Justin Marshall. putting UB up 16-14.
It was a stalemate from there, as Buffalo punted after 10-play, 14-yard drive to start the quarter, and Coastal turned the ball over on downs in a four-and-out. The Bulls would take the ball from the Chants 32-yard line and grind down 25 yards of field over 10 plays, eventually settling for another Alex McNulty field goal to further the lead up to 19-14.
It all went wrong from there for the Bulls, as Kade Hensley would post a field goal to inch the Chants closer at 19-17 UB before perhaps the major pivot point of the game. The Bulls snapped the ball at their own 34-yard line, but it jutted backwards 13-yards, recovered by a Buffalo player— who then fumbled the ball, leading to a Jahmar Brown 20-yard recovery touchdown.
Buffalo would take the ball to try and stop the bleeding, but only contributed further, with Cole Snyder finding Jacob Proche instead of the intended receiver, giving CCU the ball at midfield. Three plays and two consecutive offsides penalties by Buffalo later, Grayson McCall found Tyson Mobley for a four-yard score to put the Chants up 31-17 with 12:05 remaining.
The Bulls, to their credit, led their best drive of the day on the next possession, with a 17-play, 71-yard drive, which included some key third and fourth-down conversions, eventually ending in a 10-yard reception touchdown for Quian Williams on fourth-and-eight. It was a drive which took 6:22 off the clock, making a defensive stop imperative on the next drive.
Coastal took possession at their own 25-yard line, getting to their own 48-yard line before getting hit with a holding call on a three-yard gain on second down. With no gain on the ensuing play, the Chants found themselves at third-and-17 needing to bleed clock. Buffalo called timeout to discuss the gameplan.
After the break, Grayson McCall hung back, the linemen set up a screen, and CJ Beasley would go untouched for a 59-yard touchdown, pushing the margin back to 12 with 3:03 remaining.
The Bulls tried to get deep on the Chants on the ensuing possession, but couldn’t get anything going, turning the ball over on a fourth-and-12 attempted pass down the middle to Justin Marshall, which was broken up by defensive back Joshua Madison.
CCU would clear the clock from there, marching all the way down to the Buffalo seven-yard line before time expired, giving the homestanding squad a 38-26 victory.
Cole Snyder went 29-of-48 for 264 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions on the day. with Justin Marshall (88 yards) and Quian Williams (62 yards) each hauling in eight catches and a touchdown for the Bulls. Mike Washington (15 carries for 59 yards) and Ron Cook (13 carries, 42 yards) split lead back duties.
James Patterson led Buffalo in tackles (nine) and also nabbed the game-opening fumble recovery and a tackle-for-loss. Caleb Offord also had himself a day, with eight tackles and a fumble recovery.
Alex McNulty was a perfect 4-of-4 on kicks, with a long of 47 yards, while Jackson Baltar had three punts for 122 net yards and a touchback.
Grayson McCall had another quietly good performance, going 16-of-24 for 251 yards and three touchdowns, picking up 13 yards rushing as well on three carries. Sam Pinckney led all receivers with 103 yards on five receptions, while CJ Beasley showed out as both a receiver and a rusher, with 89 yards and a score on nine carries on the ground and 74 yards and a score on three catches through the air.
Tre’ Pinckney led all tacklers on the day, with 12 stops for the Chants. Fellow backer JT Killen also notched double-digit stops, picking up 10. including a tackle-for-loss. At least five Chants picked up a sack on the day, with 30 collective sack yards lost, while D’Jordan Strong and Jacob Proche hauled in interceptions.
Kade Hensley kicked just once, making it from 44 yards out, while Evan Crenshaw had two boots for 86 yards and a touchback.
Buffalo will now prepare for their first conference game, taking on cross-divisional opponent Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti on Sept. 24 at noon Eastern, while Coastal Carolina also preps for a conference opponent in Georgia State in Atlanta for a 7:30 p.m. Eastern kickoff, also on Sept. 24.