Buffalo Beats Western Michigan on Senior Day, 29-24
BUFFALO, NY – With the help of five forced turnovers, the University at Buffalo football team won its second straight game, 29-24, over Western Michigan at UB Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Cortney Lester led the defensive effort with a career-high three interceptions – a Division I-A school record.
"From all three phases, they fed off each other," head coach Jeff Quinn. "We saw some great things from the offensive side, the defensive side and special teams. Overall it was just a tremendous team victory."
While it was its defense that sealed the win, it was Buffalo's offense that was rolling early. Making his second straight start at quarterback, Joe Licata went 21-for-33 for 285 yards and a touchdown in the game. He led to the Bulls on three scoring drives on their first eight possessions helping UB gain a 17-0 advantage.
Branden Oliver put the Bulls on the board first with an 18-yard touchdown run to give the Bulls a 7-0 lead with 9:43 left in the first quarter. The junior running back was well on his way to another big day, but was forced to leave the game with an injury at the end of the first quarter. Oliver had 75 yards on 12 carries at the time of the injury.
Devin Campbell stepped in and scored UB's next touchdown on a 45-yard scamper – the longest run of his career to put the Bulls ahead, 14-0. Campbell finished with 107 yards for his third 100-yard game of the season. But he, too, was lost to an injury in the fourth quarter.
Last week's hero Patrick Clarke made a 30-yard field goal to put Buffalo ahead, 17-0, with 3:28 left in the half.
Western Michigan rallied to score two touchdowns late in the half to cut the UB advantage to 17-14 at the break.
The Broncos took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched right down the field and scored another touchdown to take their first lead of the game, 21-17.
Clarke made his second field goal of the day to cut the Western Michigan lead to 21-20 with 3:14 left in the third quarter. Lester's second interception of the day came on the very first play of the Broncos' next drive as the sophomore snatched the ball away and scampered 35 yards to the Western Michigan 25-yard line. Clarke gave the lead back to the Bulls when he drilled a 38-yard field goal late in the third quarter.
Western Michigan retook a 24-23 lead with 13:26 left in the game on a 28-yard field goal by Andrew Handleman.
Buffalo regained the lead for good on its next possession when Licata hooked up with Alex Neutz on a 30-yard touchdown down the sideline to give the Bulls the 29-24 lead. Neutz finished with nine catches for 140 yards and his 10th touchdown of the season.
After that it was up to the defense to make plays, and boy did they. Senior Willie Moseley, playing in the final home game of his career, made his first career interception on Western Michigan's next possession to give the ball back to UB.
After a defensive stand by the Broncos, Western Michigan drove the ball down to the Buffalo 24-yard line. Jake Stockman rushed off the edge and blindsided Western Michigan quarterback Alex Carder, forcing a fumble. Colby Way pounced on the ball for the Bulls.
The Broncos had one last shot, regaining possession of the ball at their own 10-yard line with 1:23 remaining. Lester saved his biggest interception for last as he picked off Carder for the third time to seal the win for the Bulls.
"I have the game ball and I told them if I could cut this into 105 pieces I would," Quinn said. "But we're going to sign this one and let them know that this was a real signature win to cross over to the West Division and beat a Western Michigan team that played in a bowl game last year."
It was Buffalo's first ever win over Western Michigan after falling to the Broncos in the previous five meetings.
The Bulls will play at MAC-newcomer Massachusetts next Saturday.