AMHERST, N.Y. Buffalo overcame a pair of 14-point deficits in the second half and rallied for a 27-24 overtime win over Army on Saturday, Oct. 18, in front of 21,719 fans at UB Stadium. The Bulls (3-4, 1-2 MAC) trailed 17-3 and 24-10, but tallied the game’s final 17 points to take the victory, and snap the Black Knights’ (2-5) two-game winning streak.
Army won the overtime coin toss and elected to play defense. The Black Knights’ kept the Bulls from getting a first down, but A.J. Principe drilled a 34-yard field goal to give the Bulls a 27-24 advantage, their first lead of the game.
A false start penalty on the first play of Army’s possession forced the Black Knights into a 1st-and-15. Following a 2-yard run, Army took a shot into the end zone, but the pass fell incomplete. A delay of game flag backed up the Black Knights five more yards to the 34-yard line. Another incompletion made it fourth down, and Matthew Campbell’s 51-yard field goal was no good, sealing the Buffalo victory.
Army senior FB Collin Mooney posted his third consecutive 100-yard rushing game with 172 yards and two scores on 16 carries. Mooney also busted an 81-yard touchdown run, the longest of his career. He became the first Army player since Carlton Jones in 2004 to rush for more than 100-yards in three straight games.
The Bulls went to the air in the comeback, throwing for a total of 229 yards after halftime. They finished the game with 279 yards of passing offense.
The Black Knights held a 372-320 advantage in total offense, rushing for 320 yards on 54 carries. Sophomore QB Chip Bowden was 4-for-6 for 52 yards through the air.
Sophomore LB Stephen Anderson led the Army defense with 12 tackles, while sophomore DB Donovan Travis recorded 11 stops. Junior DE Victor Ugenyi had two of Army’s season-high five sacks and totaled 2.5 tackles for loss.
Buffalo QB Drew Willy was 25-of-35 for 279 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Ernest Jackson was his favorite target, catching nine passes for 134 yards and the game-tying score. Naaman Roosevelt hauled in six balls for 75 yards and a score. Brandon Thermilus led the Bulls' rushing attack with 59 yards and a score on 17 carries. Davonte Shannon registered a career-high 20 tackles to lead Buffalo’s defense.
The Black Knights’ defense did not register a takeaway for the second straight game. The Bulls managed just one takeaway, but the fourth-quarter fumble recovery led to the game-tying touchdown.
After punts on its first two possessions, the Black Knights took advantage of great field position following a Buffalo punt that went out of bounds at the Bulls’ 43-yard line. A 26-yard catch and run by Mooney moved the ball inside the 30-yard line, and Mealy capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge. Campbell’s extra point gave Army a 7-0 lead with six seconds left in the opening quarter.
The Bulls and Thermilus went to work for Buffalo’s first points on the ensuing possession. After three carries for 12 yards, Willy hit the running back on a screen pass for a 21-yard gain. Thermilus carried for 13 yards on the next play for another first down, and moved the ball into the red zone with a 4-yard run. A sack by Ugenyi and King pushed the ball back to the 24-yard line, and the Bulls could not convert the third down to set up A.J. Principe’s 36-yard field field goal attempt. The ball split the uprights to make it 7-3 with 9:56 left in the half.
The Black Knights’ rushing attack took center stage on their next possession. Thirteen straight runs, including six carries for 31 yards by junior FB Bryson Carl, moved the ball to the UB 15-yard line. The drive bogged down inside the red zone, but Campbell was true from 34 yards out to push the Black Knights’ lead back to seven points at 10-3 with 2:55 left in the half. Carl accounted for 31 of Army’s 65 yards on the drive.
Army stopped the Bulls on their final drive of the first half and ran out the clock to take a seven-point lead into intermission.
The Black Knights held a 147-99 advantage in total offense through the first two quarters, including a 103-49 margin on the ground. Carl paced the offense with 31 yards on six carries, while Mooney ran five times for 26 yards. One week after not completing a pass, Bowden was 3-for-3 for 44 yards through the air in the first half.
After the teams traded punts to open the second half, the Black Knights went on a nine-play, 51-yard drive that took 4:47 off the third quarter clock. Mooney did the honors with a 3-yard run, and Campbell’s PAT pushed the Army lead to 17-3 with 5:15 left in the quarter. The key sequence of the drive came when the Black Knights faced a 2nd-and-14 from the UB 26-yard line. Army moved the chains after an 8-yard pass to Hunter and a 6-yard run by McMahand on third down.
After a dubious start to its next drive thanks to a 10-yard loss on a bad shotgun snap, Buffalo converted a 3rd-and-20 with a 32-yard pass from Willy to Ernest Jackson to move the ball into Army territory and keep its second scoring drive of the day alive. Willy found Roosevelt for 42 yards on the next play to put the Bulls on the Black Knights’ 4-yard line, and two plays later, Thermilus plowed in from 1-yard out for the Bulls first touchdown of the afternoon. Principe’s extra point pulled the Bulls to 17-10 with 2:51 left in the third quarter.
The Black Knights needed little time to get the score back. On 3rd-and-3 from the Army 19-yard line, Mooney broke through the middle of the line and raced untouched down the middle of the field for an 81-yard score. Campbell’s third PAT of the game pushed the lead back to 24-10 with 1:22 left in the quarter. The 81-yard jaunt was Mooney’s longest of his career and tied the sixth-longest run in Academy history. It was the Black Knights’ longest rushing play since a 95-yard run by Michael Wallace on Oct. 21, 2000 versus Tulane.
The Bulls went back to work through the air, moving the ball inside the Army 30-yard line. McNary registered Army’s season-best third sack of the game to make it 2nd-and-20 from the Army 39-yard line. The Bulls took two short gains before Willy found Jackson for a 19-yard pick up to the 8-yard line. On the next play, Willy hit Roosevelt for the Bulls’ first passing touchdown of the game. The PAT pulled the Bulls back within a touchdown at 24-17 with 12:44 left in the game. All but five of the 64-yard drive came via the pass.
The Black Knights picked up one first down on their next possession, but were forced to punt. Following a fair catch, the Bulls took over on their own 16-yard line to start what could have been the game-tying march. On 3rd-and-10 Willy and Jackson connected again for a 28-yard gain and move the ball into Black Knight’s territory. The Bulls converted another 3rd-and-long when a tipped pass fell into the arms of Jackson for 15 yards and a first down at the Army 25-yard line. Army’s defense came up with its biggest play of the game, snuffing Thermilus on 4th-and-1 to give the Black Knights the ball back with 5:30 left in the game.
On Army’s next play, Mooney broke through the line of scrimmage, but had the ball stripped. The Bulls recovered and returned the ball inside the Black Knights’ 20-yard line. A personal foul penalty at the end of the play set the Bulls up with a 1st-and-goal at the Army 7-yard line with less than 5 and one-half minutes left.
Following an incomplete pass on first down, Ugenyi sacked Willy back at the 15-yard line, making it 3rd-and-goal. On the next play, Willy lofted a ball to Jackson who held on in the back of the end zone despite being hit by two Army defenders. Jackson was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, forcing the extra-point try from the 18-yard line. Principe drilled the 35-yard PAT to tie the score with 4:19 to go.
Army was unable to move the chains on the ensuing possession, and the Bulls took over at their own 18-yard line with 2:11 left in the contest. A pass interference penalty on third down kept the drive alive, but Ugenyi picked up his second sack of the game to push the Bulls back to the 24-yard line and set up 2nd-and-20. The Bulls threw one more screen pass, but were content to run out the clock and head to overtime.
The crowd of 21,719 marked the fifth-largest crowd in UB Stadium history.
The Black Knights return home to face Louisiana Tech on Saturday, Oct. 25 at 1 p.m. The game has been designated Pete Dawkins Day, and the 1958 Heisman Trophy winner’s number will be retired during a special halftime ceremony. The first 10,000 fans will receive a free Pete Dawkins bobblehead.
With only two games left on the 2008 home schedule, the Louisiana Tech game is the last chance to take advantage of a special ticket combo package. Fans can gain admission to both next Saturday’s game and the Nov. 1 match up with service academy rival Air Force for only $49 per seat a savings of $16 off regular pricing. Call the Army Athletics ticket office at 1-877-TIX-ARMY or click here.