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Buffalo falls to 0-4 after comeback bid falls short in 45-38 loss to Louisiana

The Bulls trailed 31-7, yet still had an opportunity to tie or win on their final drive.

NCAA Football: Buffalo at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

There are five winless teams remaining in the FBS.

Buffalo could not lift that undesirable status from its name Saturday night in Louisiana, despite an inspiring second half of football. The Bulls turned a 31-7 third quarter deficit into 45-38 ballgame, but they were unable to fully catch up to the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Buffalo’s rampant comeback was fueled by five consecutive scoring possessions in a second half explosion. Running back Ron Cook Jr., punched in a pair of touchdowns in the late third quarter to rewrite the score from 31-7 to 31-21. But the Ragin’ Cajuns regained their footing in the early portions of the final stanza, roaring back with two touchdowns, including a 20-yard scamper by Jacob Kibodi to set Louisiana ahead by 21 with 7:40 to go.

Buffalo’s offense remained sharp and wide receiver Marlyn Johnson found the end zone to cap a 10-play drive. An opportune onside kick recovery allowed the Bulls to attain striking distance. JUCO transfer running back Jacqez Barksdale — who provided relief duties after an injury to Cook — punched the ball for a 1-yard score with exactly two minutes remaining. This time, the Bulls elected to kick it deep and rely on their defense to record a stop with three timeouts in their arsenal.

That strategy paid off for head coach Maurice Linguist as Buffalo forced an immediate three-and-out. The Bulls took control of the ball with 1:24 remaining and 70 yards away from glory. After invading Ragin’ Cajun territory, disaster finally struck for an offense which finally ran out of firepower. Quarterback Cole Snyder underthrew a seam to Johnson and was intercepted Tyree Skipper — the second interception in two weeks for the Louisiana strong safety. Skipper’s clutch takeaway ensured the Ragin’ Cajuns their third non-conference win in three tries his fall.

It was a mundane for half for both teams as punts reigned supreme for the first 30 minutes of action, causing Louisiana to enter the break ahead 10-0. But in the third quarter, the Ragin’ Cajuns built their 31-7 lead by means of a potent run game. Kibodi attained 100 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries, while Dre’lyn Washington returned to the lineup for the first time since Week 1 and posted a team-high 103 yards on 13 attempts. Even quarterback Zeon Chriss, earning his first career start in place of the injured Ben Wooldridge, significantly contributed as a runner. He attained 70 yards net of sacks, showcasing his skills in the early third quarter with a 54-yard touchdown run.

After surrendering 269 yards on the ground in Louisiana, Buffalo now ranks second-to-last in the FBS in rushing yards allowed per game at 266. The Bulls have yielded at least 38 points in all four outings this year, which has been the prevailing factor in this 0-4 start. It was the offense’s highest-scoring showing of the season, but the failure to score on the first six possessions of the night created a hole they could not climb out of.

Buffalo’s 0-4 nightmare non-conference slate is finally over, but the Bulls earn a clean slate as MAC play commences next Saturday. They pay a visit to Akron, hoping to defeat the Zips for the sixth consecutive season.