Eagles Running Game Proves Too Much as Bulls Fall, 21-17
BUFFALO, NY – A powerful Eastern Michigan rushing attack spelled the difference in a game that came down to the final play as the Eagles held off Buffalo, 21-17 at UB Stadium.
The Eagles ran for 261 yards in controlling the clock for much of the game and never gave up the lead in holding on for the win.
Trailing 21-17 late in the fourth quarter, the UB defense forced a punt to get Buffalo the ball back with 1:14 to go. Quarterback Jerry Davis – who completed 20-of-32 passes for 222 yards and a pair of scores – led Buffalo from its own 22-yard line on a long potential game-winning drive.
Davis completed four passes to move UB to EMU 39-yard line before a Hail Mary on the game's final play fell incomplete in the back of the end zone.
"We're very disappointed in the outcome of the game but we battled our way through all the way to the last play of the game.," said head coach Jeff Quinn. "Obviously we're very disappointed for our seniors playing their last game here and we didn't have the outcome we wanted. There's not that many words that I can express to tell you how I feel for this football team but it's just not good enough and we're going to get it right."
Davis' favorite receiver on the day was freshman Alex Neutz, who recorded career highs in both receptions (seven) and receiving yards with 112. Neutz set up a pair of scores with a 33- and 47-yard catch in the game.
Quinn was extremely pleased with the way his sophomore quarterback rebounded from a tough outing versus Ball State last week when he was pressed into action after an injury to starter Alex Zordich.
"This says a lot about Jerry, it's a credit to the young man to hang in there," said Quinn. "We coach him, we support him, we care deeply for our football players and it was important for him to stay locked in and he did a nice job. "
After trailing 14-10 at intermission, Buffalo fell behind 21-10 early in the third quarter when Dwayne Priest – who ran for 192 yards on 35 carries – bowled in from one yard out.
However, the Bulls rallied on the following series by driving 73 yards in nine plays, including the 47-yard hookup from Davis to Neutz, and capped it with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Davis to Ed Young. That cut the lead to 21-17 but the Eagles, behind the powerful running of Priest and quarterback Alex Gillett (16 carries for 56 yards), EMU was able to control the ball for much of the second half.
Once again, in his final game at UB Stadium, free safety Davonte Shannon had another enormous game for the Bulls. The Jeannette, PA native had 15 total tackles seven solos) and became the first UB defender in its Division I-A era to go over 100 tackles three times in a career. He is now just three tackles shy of breaking the school's career tackles record going into his final game at Akron next week. Shannon and fellow senior Sherrod Lott also recorded interceptions.
The Eagles used some trickeration on the first series of the game – running out of a punt formation to convert on fourth-and-three at their own 40. However, after reaching the Buffalo 40-yard line, Josh Copeland and Khalil Mack threw quarterback Alex Gillett for a three-yard loss to force a punt.
The Eagles opened the scoring after getting the benefit of a short field after a Bulls' punt. EMU drove 44 yards on five plays with tailback Dwayne Priest doing most of the damage. Priest had a 12-yard run on third-and-eight at the UB 14-yard line and then powered the final two yards for the touchdown with 13:36 left in the first half.
The Bulls tied the game when its offense began to make some big plays. Buffalo took possession at its own 25-yard line after an interception by senior Sherrod Lott. The Bulls got rolling on a 10-yard run by senior Ike Nduka. Jerry Davis then hit Marcus Rivers for an 11-yard pass, but the Bulls appeared to be in major trouble facing a second-and-25 at the UB 46-yard line. Davis, however, hit tailback Jeffvon Gill on a perfectly executed 26-yard completion on a screen pass to keep the drive alive.
The Eagles responded, however, starting on the next kickoff when they returned the ball to their own 49-yard line. From there, they traveled 51 yards on eight plays – including a crucial fourth-down conversion. Priest scored from one yard out to put EMU up 14-7 with 4:25 left.
Buffalo, however, got another score before the end of the half. Aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct call on the kickoff that gave Buffalo a drive start at its 41-yard line, the Bulls finished the half with a field goal.
The big play was a 33-yard pass from Davis to Alex Neutz and the drive was capped by a 30-yard field goal by Principe on the half's last play. The half finished with the Eagles leading 14-10.
BULL-etins: Seniors Anel Montanez, Peter Bittner, Domonic Cook and Davonte Shannon served as captains for today's game…Davonte Shannon's interception at the 1:47 mark of the first quarter was the fourth of the season and the tenth of his career. He is now tied for ninth all-time on the career interception list with Craig Rohlfs and his four interceptions this season sets a new career high for the Buffalo safety, who had three picks as a freshman in 2007…Shannon also had another productive tackling day, making 15 stops for his 9th career 15-tackle game. He now has 19 career double-digit tackle outputs from the safety position. He now sits just three stops away from owning the program tackles record outright…with Marcus Rivers' 28 yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, he now is tied for the team lead for touchdown receptions this season, with five. The Lackawanna, NY native finished the game with five catches for 55 yards and the touchdown for one of his strongest all-around games this season…Ed Young caught his fifth touchdown pass of the season later in the game, and five catches overall. He now has 17 catches this season, five of which have been a Buffalo touchdown…Alex Neutz made the difficult look easy against Eastern Michigan, setting new career highs in catches (7) and receiving yard (112) against the Eagles on a variety of acrobatic catches. It was his first 100 yard game for the Grand Island native…redshirt freshman linebacker Khalil Mack had two more tackles for loss on the day, giving him 13 for the season, one shy of tenth place for most in a single season for a Buffalo defender…Jerry Housey's seven tackles matched a career high for him.