Bulls Close in Season-Opening Loss

August 31, 2013 Updated Aug 31, 2013 at 6:55 PM EDT

By WKBW Sports

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Bulls Close in Season-Opening Loss

August 31, 2013 Updated Aug 31, 2013 at 6:55 PM EDT

COLUMBUS, OH – (UB Press Release) Playing in front of 103,980 fans at the famed Horseshoe, the University at Buffalo football team put more than a scare in the second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, losing 40-20, on Saturday afternoon. After falling behind, 23-0 in the first quarter, the Bulls outscored the Buckeyes, 20-17, the rest of the way.

Playing on ESPN2, the nation got their first look at the 2013 version of Khalil Mack and the senior linebacker didn't disappoint. Mack finished with nine tackles, 2.5 sacks and returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown. He led a UB defense that had nine tackles for loss and four sacks on the afternoon.

Joe Licata looked comfortable under center for the Bulls. The sophomore quarterback finished 19-for-32 for 185 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Licata found Matt Weiser on a crossing pattern from 16 yards out for the Bulls first score to make the score 23-7. It was the sophomore tight ends first career touchdown.

On the ensuing possession, Mack took matters into his own hands as the standout linebacker intercepted the Braxton Miller pass and raced 45 yards to the endzone for his first career touchdown. The two-point conversion failed and the Bulls trailed 23-13 with 7:10 left in the half.

Ohio State responded with a touchdown and took a 30-13 lead into the locker room at halftime.

After forcing an Ohio State three-and-out on its first possession of the second half, UB methodically marched the ball 62 yards on seven plays and Licata hooked up with Alex Neutz on a 10 yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 30-20 with 10:21 left in the third quarter. Neutz finished with nine catches for 98 yards and a touchdown in the game.

On the Buckeyes' next possession, the Bulls defense was on the attack again. Mack and the defense swarmed Miller and forced him to fumble. The Bulls recovered on the Ohio State one-yard line, but an illegal hands to the face penalty on UB negated the play. Ohio State responded by driving 91 yards for a touchdown. The Buckeyes added a field goal with 7:05 left to make the final margin 40-20.

"I give credit to Ohio State. They came out and put us down 23-0," head coach Jeff Quinn said. "What I was pleased with was the way our kids responded once they settled down. They were able to outscore them in the second, third and fourth quarter. I was really proud of the way our kids came out. They are a very gritty bunch. We talked about being a complete and finishing football team and they handled the conditions extremely well."

Ohio State did a good job containing UB's run game as Branden Oliver was held to 73 yards on 26 carries. Ohio State running back Jordan Hall 159 yards rushing, including a pair of long touchdown runs.

Redshirt freshman tight end and Medina, OH native Mason Schreck,playing in his first career game, had four catches for 22 yards. Weiser and Devin Campbell, also an Ohio native, had a pair of catches each.

Defensively, Blake Bean had eight tackles and a forced fumble. Derek Brim had seven solo stops and Colby Way finished with seven tackles, including a pair of tackles for loss.

Buffalo will next play at Baylor next Saturday.

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