Ohio University has this big bell that someone rings after every touchdown and field goal. Whoever has that job got a pretty good workout Saturday night.
After a slow start, the Bobcats rung the points in a big way as they rolled past the University at Buffalo, 45-6, before 17,277 at Peden Stadium.
The Bulls (0-3) had their best offensive showing of the season. Flanker Drew Haddad was brilliant again, catching eight passes -- mostly of the spectacular variety -- for 140 yards. It was his 12th career 100-yard game, breaking the school record he held with Kali Watkins. The Bulls also rediscovered their running game as redshirt freshman Bam McDonald rolled up a career-high 81 yards on 22 carries. Quarterback Joe Freedy threw for 220 yards as the Bulls finished with 315 total yards, easily the highest total through three games.
But there was only one statistic that mattered: Zero, as in the number of touchdowns the Bulls scored. They have now gone eight straight quarters without finding the end zone. "It was tough," said Haddad, who has produced back-to-back 100-yard receiving games. "Our defense played well at times, but it was one of those things where we couldn't punch the ball in. Even though we had drives, we couldn't seem to score."
"Boy, the little things," UB coach Craig Cirbus said. "How many times were we knocking on the door? Last week, we didn't knock. Sure that's frustrating. The plays were there. You've got to be able to get it done."
UB's frustration was best typified by a third-quarter possession. On fourth-and-3 at Ohio's 27, Freedy had tight end Brandon Shaugnessy wide open near the goal line. But Freedy floated the pass instead of firing it, and cornerback Donnie White caught up to Shaugnessy and made a leaping interception at the 6.
The Bulls threw four interceptions, three by Freedy. The other,by backup Mike Gaydosz, was returned for a touchdown.
"He's humbled somewhat, thinking he could make a couple of plays," Cirbus said of Freedy. "I asked him nothing more than his assignment and a couple of times, a competitive spirit got in a young kid, who doesn't know the big leagues and how quickly defenders can come up on you. He went to the well too often in terms of making something happen, and that will hurt you."
Meanwhile, the Bulls slowed Ohio's explosive offense for a while, but it was only a matter of time before the defense started to show some leaks. After being held to 65 yards in the first quarter, the Bobcats erupted for 222 yards during the next 15 minutes to build a 20-6 lead at halftime.
Tailback Jamel Patterson (180 yards on 17 carries) led an Ohio ground game that pounded out 232 yards in the first half and 393 for the game. Dontrell Jackson, the Bobcats' 17-year-old freshman quarterback, operated the option with few flaws and made the most of his pass attempts (5 of 10 for 97 yards).
The Bulls earned their first lead of the year in the first quarter on a 34-yard field goal by Scott Keller (Amherst), who later tied the game with a 37-yarder in the second quarter. But it was all Ohio the rest of the way. Poor tackling, a problem for the Bulls this season, continued to haunt them. Bobcat backs ripped off huge chunks of yardage during an 80-yard drive to take a 13-6 lead.
But their touchdown, a 11-yard run by Patterson, should not have happened. Three defenders had Patterson trapped in the backfield, but he bounced off them and literally walked into the end zone. "Obviously, we had a lot of missed tackles," Cirbus said. "When you couple that with outstanding speed and power and blocking and have second- and third-stringers in there, that's going to happen to you."
After UB's offense stalled again, it only took Ohio five plays to find the end zone on Jackson's 17-yard run. Freedy's passing got UB into scoring position as the half ended, but Keller missed badly on a 38-yard field goal attempt.
The game was basically over when UB allowed a safety and threw a pair of interceptions on its first three possessions in the third quarter. Ohio converted one of the turnovers into a field goal and continued to build its lead.
"I'm not going to let the team get down on this," Cirbus said. "Everyone who is involved with this program has to understand the nature and quality of the competition we're playing. We're playing people who have been established at I-A football for 50, 100, 150 years. This is the big time."
The Bulls return home next Saturday to face Northern Illinois.
Fullback Joe McKoy (Jamestown) started in place of Josh Roth (Pine Valley), who suffered a neck stinger earlier in the week. Roth's availability for next Saturday's game will be determined later this week.