ATHENS, Ohio – The University at Buffalo hastened its own demise with a flurry of first-half mistakes in losing to Ohio University Thursday.
Ohio, the best team in the East Division of the Mid-American Conference took a 27-10 lead in the first half and cruised to a 34-10 decision.
It easily could have been closer, because UB outgained Ohio, 291-255, over the first 30 minutes. But the Bulls missed two first-half field goals and fumbled a kickoff return to hand Ohio three points. Then there were two bad secondary plays by UB that handed Ohio long touchdowns.
“Even if you execute minimally, you’re where you want to be against a good football team,” said UB coach Lance Leipold. “But this is why they lead the division. This is why Frank Solich has been as successful as he’s been. They’re consistent in all three phases, they don’t beat themselves, and that’s exactly what they did in the first half.”
“Little things,” said UB tight end Mason Schreck. “We’re just shooting ourselves in the foot.”
UB fell to 2-7. Ohio is 7-3.
UB senior Boise Ross was beaten on the first play from scrimmage for a 75-yard touchdown pass to Ohio’s Papi White. Ross, playing with a brace on his left knee after missing last week’s game, was outjumped for the ball 30 yards down the sideline, and the 5-foot-9 Bobcats wideout high-stepped over him to run free to the end zone.
“I don’t know if that was designed to go right at him right away, if they saw him, or if it was just take the shot to start the game,” Leipold said.
Ross went to the bench for four series, briefly returned, then sat out almost the whole second half.
But Ross’ replacement, sophomore Tatum Slack, was beaten down the sideline for a 36-yard second quarter touchdown to Elijah Ball. It was a third-and-12 play, and UB had double-coverage on Ball. Ohio quarterback Quinton Maxwell forced the throw. But neither Slack nor safety Ryan Williamson timed their plays on the ball properly in the end zone.
“It’s close, but this isn’t a game about being just close,” Leipold said. “You show flashes from time to time but inconsistency is unfortunately what a program -- given where we’re at -- kind of goes through at this time. I’ve got to find a way to do a better job to make more of those go in our direction.”
UB handed Ohio three points when Jamarl Eiland fumbled on a kickoff return at the Bulls’ 34.
Field goals were a problem, too. UB kicker Adam Mitcheson missed from 38 yards in the second quarter when the deficit was only 10-0.
That came at the end of a promising drive that stalled after UB tackle David Goldsby incurred a personal foul penalty for a late hit out of bounds. UB had marched to the Ohio 22 when the penalty occurred.
“It sounded like somebody hit one of our guys and he kind of retaliated,” Leipold said. “Another unfortunate opportunity as we’re moving the ball. And it’s not just the penalty yards, you lose the down there, too.”
At the end of the half, a 20-yard field-goal try by Mitcheson was blocked by Ohio’s Casey Sales, who got surge up the middle.
For the game, UB outgained the Bobcats, 413-392.
“We’re moving the ball on offense,” Schreck said. “We’re getting down there getting ready to score and we shoot ourselves in the foot with some penalties. It’s something that’s fixable. That’s the bright side. We have a young team. We’re working hard every day to clean that stuff up.”