EAST HARTFORD, CT (UB Press Release) - The University at Buffalo football team had a final possession to try to tie the game late, but the rally fell short as the Bulls lost to Connecticut, 24-17, at Rentschler Field on Saturday afternoon.
For the first time in the Jeff Quinn era a running back other than Branden Oliver was in the starting lineup. Brandon Murie and Devon Campbell filled in admirably for the Doak Walker candidate. The duo combined for 164 yards of total offense and a pair of touchdowns against one of the nation’s top defenses. In fact, as a team, the Bulls outgained the Huskies in total offense, 361-360.
“Our football team today went on the road and played extremely hard against a good football team in Connecticut,” head coach Jeff Quinn said. “I really like the way our kids fought. They competed their tail ends off. I couldn’t be more proud of the football team in that locker room.”
Connecticut struck first on its opening possession with a 29-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead with 10:10 left in the first quarter.
The Bulls responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 4-yard touchdown run by Murie. The key play of the drive was a 4th-and-5 conversion at the UConn 34-yard line. Zordich faked the end-around handoff to Murie and threw a screen pass to Campbell that the freshman was able to advance to the Huskies’ 4-yard-line. Murie punched it in on the very next play.
Thanks to some big plays, Connecticut would score the game’s next three touchdowns. A 36-yard TD reception early in the second quarter, followed by a 50-yard touchdown run just four minutes later gave the Huskies a 17-7 lead at the half. The Huskies scored on a 2-yard run to take a 24-7 lead with 5:03 left in the third quarter.
Buffalo reached into its bag of tricks for its second score. Zordich threw a quick strike to Neutz who then flipped the ball to Murie who raced down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown. The Bulls headed to the fourth quarter trailing 24-14.
After the UB touchdown, the UB defense stepped up and forced punts on UConn’s next four possessions. Buffalo didn’t allow the Huskies to advance the ball more than 19 yards on any of the four possessions.
Patrick Clarke connected on a 44-yard field goal with 2:32 left in the game to cut the UConn advantage to 24-17.
After forcing a 3-and-out, the Bulls regained possession on their own 20-yard line. They were able to advance it to their own 41-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.
Coming into the game UConn was ranked fifth in the nation in total defense. However, the Bulls showed that they play some defense in Buffalo, too. UB had more sacks (3) and tackles for loss (8) on the afternoon than UConn (1 & 5).
Lee Skinner had a career-high 13 tackles to lead the defensive effort. Khalil Mack continued to be a terror in the backfield as he had 3.5 more tackles for loss to bring his season total to an astounding 11 through three games.
Alex Zordich threw for 220 yards and a touchdown and ran for a team-best 76 yards. He extended his streak of throwing a touchdown pass to four games.
Buffalo will next return to conference play and travel to Ohio to face the Bobcats next Saturday.