BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo football team could not overcome four turnovers that led directly to touchdowns as they suffered a 54-27 loss to the University of Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon before a rowdy home-opening day crowd at UB Stadium.
Sophomore quarterback Zach Maynard completed 24-of-35 passes for 400 yards and tossed four touchdowns in his first home start as the Buffalo offense was explosive throughout the contest.
Maynard's 400 yards were the most in Buffalo's Division I-A history (1999-present) and ranks seventh all-time in Bulls' history. The four touchdowns tied a Division I-A mark and ranked third best in a single game. For the game, Buffalo put up an impressive 500 yards (to Pittâs 381) against a traditionally stout Panther defense.
Roosevelt had six catches for a career-best 157 yards and two touchdowns, while Hamlin had a career-best 12 receptions for 149 yards. Another receiver, Terrell Jackson had a career-best three catches for 48 yards as Buffalo threw for a total of 433 yards in the contest.
"It was a tough game, a tough loss," said Buffalo head coach Turner Gill. "I give Pittsburgh credit they came out and played very well and executed better than we did. That's the bottom line. The one thing I like about our football team is we did show a little bit of fight in the second half and we had a chance to get back in the game. We'll learn from this. We'll bounce back and weâll be ready to go."
"Our players knew the challenges would be here," said Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt. "When we created some turnovers early and were able to capitalize on them and score, that was huge for us. Overall it was a good win against a very good football team, on the road. We missed some tackles, but I'm going to give them credit, (Roosevelt and Hamlin), I'd love to have both of those guys. They're both playmakers, winners and have got ability."
No turnover that the Bulls committed was bigger than a game-changing fumble late in the second half. The Bulls had battled back all afternoon, trailing 34-20 midway through the third quarter, when at the Pitt 40-yard line, Maynard was hit on an option play, fumbled and Pitt linebacker Greg Williams scooped it up at midfield and raced 50 yards for a score to make it 40-20.
Buffalo wasnât done yet, as UB rallied behind Maynard's fourth touchdown pass, this one a 12-yard screen pass to tailback Brandon Thermilus with 11:32 left in the game.
The backbreaker came when tailback Dion Lewis broke containment and raced 85 yards for the game-clinching score with 4:44 remaining. That run enabled Lewis to finish the game with a game-high 190 yards on 24 carries.
Buffalo was in a hole right from the outset. The Panthers (2-0) took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards in 10 plays with quarterback Bill Stull finding Dorin Dickerson for a 10-yard touchdown pass to cap the drive.
On the ensuing kickoff, Buffalo fumbled the return and the Panthers needed just one play to make it 14-0 with just 5:06 off the clock. Stull hit Dickerson from 23 yards to make it 14-0.
However, Maynard and his offensive mates would not go away quietly. Maynard led the Bulls on a 71-yard drive in eight plays, capped by a gorgeous 24-yard touchdown toss to senior tight end Jesse Rack down the middle of Pittâs zone coverage.
Defensively, however, the Bulls struggled to stopped the Panthers in the first half as Lewis exploited the Bulls for 88 yards on 17 carries. Buffalo would fall behind 27-7 after Lewis run and a third touchdown throw from Stull to Dickerson with 8:31 left in the half.
However, again Buffalo responded behind the left arm of Maynard and the play-making Roosevelt. Roosevelt caught a screen pass and danced through the Panthers secondary for a 54-yard touchdown pass with 5:38 left to cut the lead to 27-14. After Stull upped Pitt's lead to 34-14 with just 1:09 remaining in the half, UB struck lightning again, as Maynard hit Roosevelt on a quick slant pattern and the Buffalo native raced 67 yards for the score with just :33 left.
BULL-etins: The combination of receivers Brett Hamlin and Naaman Roosevelt each went over 100 yards receiving in today's game...This is the first time in UB's Division I A history that the Bulls have had two receivers with over 100 yards in the same game...Zach Maynard's touchdown pass to Jesse Rack was his first touchdown reception of the season and the third of his career...It was Rack's first touchdown since 2007 at Temple...Maynard's 67 yard pass to Roosevelt was a new career high...Maynard's four touchdown passes tied the Division I-A record for touchdown passes in a game...The school record is six...Naaman Roosevelt recorded his 10th 100+ yard reception game, third best in UB history...Roosevelt caught a pass in his 40th straight game - the second longest streak of any player in the nation...his two touchdowns give him 22 for his stellar career...with 12 receptions in today's game, Brett Hamlin has 136 in his career which moves him into fifth on UB's all-time career receptions...12 receptions for 149 yards is a career game high for both receptions and yards...His 12 catches was one shy of the school record...Zach Maynard had six completions of 24 yards or more in the game·freshman linebacker Darius Willis recorded the first tackle for loss of his career...the 500 yards of offense are the most in the Turner Gill era (2006-present)...Today's game marked the first time since Nov. 16, 2006 against West Virginia that Pitt allowed 500 yards of total offense in a game.