ORCHARD PARK, NY – (UB Press Release) The University at Buffalo football team dropped its regular season finale to Bowling Green, 24-7, in front of 26,226 fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Friday afternoon. The Falcons earned the Mid-American Conference East Division title and advanced to next week's MAC Championship game. The Bulls finished the regular season 8-4 overall and 6-2 in the MAC and will await word of a potential bowl game.
It was a game featuring the conference's top two defenses, but in the end it was Bowling Green's defense that took control of the game. The Falcons held the Bulls to 236 yards of total offense, including a season-low 15 yards of rushing.
"Disappointing loss, but give credit to Bowling Green. They're a good football team and they made more plays than us today," head coach Jeff Quinn said, "I'm proud of our senior class to be able to secure eight regular-season wins. There was no way we wanted the regular season to end this way, but I'm excited about the opportunities that presents itself with one more game potentially."
Bowling Green struck first with a 40-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter. Midway through the second quarter, the Bulls mounted a 9-play, 66-yard drive, capped by a Branden OIiver 2-yard touchdown run to give the Bulls a 7-3 lead. The key play on the drive was a Joe Licata to Devin Campbell 30-yard completion.
The UB defense clamped down the rest of the half and held a 7-3 lead at the break.
On Bowling Green's opening drive of the second half, the Falcons marched into UB territory before a Falcon pass, tipped by Khalil Mack, was intercepted by fellow linebacker Lee Skinner at the UB 19-yard line. However, the Bulls couldn't capitalize, and after being forced to punt, the Falcons marched 71 yards on nine plays and scored the go-ahead touchdown when Matt Johnson found Shaun Joplin on a 23-yard touchdown pass.
Bowling Green had two more impressive long touchdown drives. One a 7-play, 93-yard drive late in the third quarter and the other a 7-play, 81-yard drive early in the fourth quarter to take a 24-7 lead.
Defensively, the Bulls had a season-high 13 tackles for loss. Adam Redden, who was back in the lineup after missing the last three games with an injury, had a team-best three tackles for loss.
Mack led all players with 12 tackles and had 2.5 tackles for loss to tie the NCAA record for career TFLs with 75.
Other standouts on defense were Blake Bean, who finished with eight tackles, a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss and Okoye Houston who had six tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.
But it was the Bowling Green's defense that stymied the UB offense for most of the afternoon. Oliver was held to just 46 yards rushing – the first time this season he was held to under 100 yards in MAC play. The senior running back did break his own single-season rushing record in the game. He now has 1, 421 yards on the season, breaking his previous record of 1,395 yards set in 2011.
Licata finshed 21-of-45 for 221 yards and an interception. The Bulls allowed a season-high five sacks in the game. Alex Neutz had six catches for 66 yards and moved in third place in school history with 191 career catches.
The Bulls will now wait to see if they are selected to play in a postseason bowl game. It would be just their second bowl in school history. UB played in the 2009 International Bowl.