PHILADELPHIA, PA – The University at Buffalo football team rode a game-changing, and season-changing, play to beat Temple last year at UB Stadium in a Hail Mary finish. In the rematch, the Owls used a similar game and momentum changing play to seize control and go on to a 37-13 victory in the Mid-American Conference opener for both teams at Lincoln Financial Field.
Trailing 13-6 late in the first half, the Bulls embarked on a long drive that appeared might tie the game at halftime. Quarterback Zack Maynard completed six straight passes on the drive for 59 yards to move the Bulls to the Temple 21-yard line. However, on a second-down play, Maynard was intercepted by Elijah Joseph at the five-yard line, and the linebacker weaved his way down the sideline for a 95-yard touchdown with just :07 left in the half. The potential 14-point swing was too much for the Bulls to overcome.
"I'm disappointed in the loss, but I have to give credit to Temple, they played the better game. In offense, defense and special teams they made plays when they presented themselves and we didn't," said Buffalo head coach Turner Gill. "We have to get better and we will. We'll get back to practice and guys will get a better focus and we'll see how they respond. We have plenty more football games to play – there is still enough games to do what we have to to get things accomplished."
After intermission, the Owls put the game away with a touchdown drive that was capped on a five-yard pass from Vaughn Charlton to Steve Maneri. The big play was a 48-yard connection from Charlton to James Nixon. Temple led 30-6 and was not threatened afterwards.
The Owls also had a kickoff return in the first half for a touchdown and took advantage of five Buffalo turnovers to improve to 1-2 on the season. Buffalo has 13 turnovers in the past three games after committing just 14 all of last season. The Bulls fell to 1-3 on the year and host Central Michigan next Saturday at 3:30 pm.
The Bulls' offense was led by senior wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt, who had nine receptions for 120 yards, while teammate Brett Hamlin had six catches for 70 yards. Maynard finished 26-of-41 passing for 281 yards and a six-yard touchdown toss to sophomore Marcus Rivers in the second half.
Tailback Ike Nduka had 28 yards on seven carries for Buffalo, as Buffalo outgained Temple in the game 380-293 yards. Defensively, junior safety Davonte Shannon led the Bulls with 10 tackles (nine solos), and a tackle for loss. Mike Newton added nine tackles. Senior cornerback Kendric Hawkins had a pair of pass breakups.
After a Buffalo punt to start the game, the Owls opened the scoring with a drive that was driven by their running game. Temple drove 69 yards on 12 plays, attempting just one pass, and finished the drive with a 35-yard field goal by Brandon McManus to take a 3-0 lead with 6:02 remaining in the first quarter.
The Bulls tied the game with a long drive of their own, after starting at their own three yard line. The Bulls drove 78 yards in 11 plays to tie the game. The big plays on the drive were a 14-yard completion from Maynard to Jesse Rack, a 14-yard run by Nduka and a 28-yard completion from Maynard to Hamlin. Junior A.J. Principe finished the drive with a 36-yard field goal with 12:38 remaining in the half.
The Bulls took their first lead after a big defensive play. On the ensuing Temple drive, on a third-and-nine play, Charlton was flushed out of the pocket by freshman Steven Means and was intercepted by linebacker Justin Winters, who returned the ball 21 yards to the Owl 19-yard line. However, the Bulls were not able to take full advantage of the turnover, and Principe booted a 32-yard field goal to give UB 6-3 lead with 10:14 remaining.
The Owls regained the momentum, however, on the ensuing kickoff. James Nixon returned the kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown to give the Owls the lead, 10-6, with 10:01 remaining in the half. It was one of many big plays that the Owls had on this day.
BULL-etins: The UB defense allowed less than 100 yards passing for the first time since it allowed just 49 yards passing against Connecticut in last year's International Bowl...Peter Fardon had a season-long punt of 50 yards in the first quarter...the interception by Justin Winters was the first of this season for him and the second of his career (UTEP-8/28/08)...Naaman Roosevelt has now caught a pass in 42 straight games, the second longest streak in the nation...with his fifth catch of the game, Naaman Roosvelt moved into 12th place in Mid-American Conference history for career catches, surpassing Toledo's Lance Moore (2001-04)...Roosevelt also moved over 3,000 receiving yards for his career and trails only Drew Haddad in school history for career receiving yards...with his fifth catch of the game Brett Hamlin moved into third place in school history in career receptions with 146...Roosevelt had his 11th career 100-yard receiving game, which ties him for second all-time in school history with Kali Watkins (1995-98)...the six-yard TD reception to Marcus Rivers was the first touchdown reception of his career...A.J. Principe converted on a season-best two field goals against Temple. He now has 30 field goals in his career (second-most all-time)...the 41 pass attempts by Zach Maynard are the most by a UB quarterback since Drew Willy had 43 against Connecticut in last year's International Bowl. Maynard's 26 completions are also the most by a UB signal caller since Willy completed 29 passes in that bowl game.