Some days are just great. Saturday, November 19th, 2016 will go down as one of the greatest days in Western Michigan’s and Kalamazoo’s histories.
On a day when College Gameday was in town, the Broncos took care of business in wintry conditions by dispatching the visiting Buffalo Bulls 38-zip.
The Broncos started out with a strong drive. However, PJ Fleck would call timeout before a 4th-and-inches play, one which WMU picked up the first down on a quick snap before the timeout. Afterwards, the Broncos were stuffed, and we began a back-and-forth of ineptitude between the two offenses.
Neither team would score in the first quarter, marking the first time since the first quarter of the Northwestern game that the Broncos did not score in a quarter. They would make up for it with a pair of scores in the 2nd quarter. The first would come on a 22-yard pass to Corey Davis, who would have his own history made throughout the game. The second score came on a wheel route to Jarvion Franklin, who muscled his way into the end zone to make it 14-0 just before the half. And while the offense was scoring, the WMU defense was consistently stopping the Bulls. At one point, Buffalo had gone three-and-out on four straight drives, and unbelievable feat.
But with only a two score lead at the half, fans were left wondering, “what’s going on with the offense?” Those questions were (mostly) quelled, with scores on their first two drives of the half. A stalled drive resulted in a 30 yard field goal by Butch Hampton, but the next drive saw a bubble screen go 65 yards to the house by the speedy Michael Henry. Another drive would get the Broncos in the red zone, but Hampton would drill the upright to keep it at 24-0.
The Bulls? They never got anything going. The Bronco defense was suffocating, and Grant Rohach had nowhere to go often. The Bulls punted on all but three of their drives. Of those three, two ended the respective halves, and the other was a strip sack as Rohach was drilled by Keion Adams. That drive was the lone chance Buffalo appeared to be within a scoring chance, and it was gone as fast as it came (one play).
The Broncos eventually added scores on another Davis out route and a Fabian Johnson run up the middle to make it 38-0, and thus covering the enormous 34.5 point spread set by Vegas bookies. For Davis, it was the cap on a career night, as he broke the MAC career receptions record while inching excruciatingly close to the FBS career receiving yards record of 5,005 (he finished the game with 4,987). He also broke the MAC career receiving touchdowns record, having tied it against Ball State.
For the Broncos, Zach Terrell had a career high 445 yards on 29-for-37 passing and four touchdowns. In the process, he set the WMU career passing yards record, surpassing Tim Hiller. Davis had 13 catches for 173 yards and two scores on his historic night, while Henry added 121 yards on 6 catches with the long score. Franklin did the most damage on the ground, but only finished with 76 yards on 17 carries and no score. No other Bronco had more than 50 yards rushing.
For the Bulls, Rohach stepped in for Tyree Jackson for unbeknownst reasons and preformed well, but not well enough. He went 12-for-22 for 140 yards, and added 19 yards on the ground, but struggled to consistently find his receivers and was taken down in the backfield often (mostly on runs, he was only sacked twice). Jordan Johnson had 95 yards on the ground on 16 carries, but he was unable to carry the offense. Rohach’s favorite target was Mason Schreck, who finished with 57 yards on 5 catches.
The Broncos stay at home over the Thanksgiving break as they’ll face the Toledo Rockets in a MAC West Championship Game. The winner of the game to be played on Black Friday (presumably at 5 pm on ESPN) will advance to face either Ohio or Miami in the MAC Championship. The loser will await bowl season.
The Bulls will mercifully end their season against Bowling Green that same day as they head to Ohio to face the Falcons. The Bulls will look to avoid being the only MAC team with double-digit losses this season.