Junior quarterback Drew Anderson came off the bench for injured starter Tyree Jackson and helped the University at Buffalo to a 34-31 victory over Florida Atlantic at UB Stadium. It was the final game before the Bulls begin play in the Mid-American Conference next week.
Anderson completed seven of nine passes for 209 yards and a touchdown while leading the Bulls to 17 points in the second half. He threw his first career touchdown pass when he found Anthony Johnson on a 20-yard play to give UB a 34-24 lead with 2:37 left in the fourth quarter.
Jackson suffered a left knee injury late in the first half and walked off the field under his own power at halftime but did not return. It could spell trouble for UB. Jackson is their offensive leader and most productive player. He crumbled under the weight of FAU's defenders after marching the Bulls down the field.
The severity of Jackson's injury was uncertain immediately after the game. Anderson played well in his absence. He led the Bulls on a scoring drive in the third quarter that ended with freshman Theo Anderson's 7-yard TD and another march that Adam Mitcheson finished with a 42-yard field goal for a 27-17 lead.
Devin Singletary scored three touchdowns for Florida Atlantic and pulled the Owls within a field goal when he scored from the 1 with 1:13 remaining. His other TDs came on a 3-yard run and a 34-yard jaunt. Kerrith Whyte scored on a 37-yard run around left end in the first quarter.
Jackson completed 11 of 18 passes for 145 yards and rushed for another 38 yards and two touchdowns before he was injured. Buffalo scored on its opening drive for the third straight game and rolled to a 14-0 lead in the first 9½ minutes before Florida Atlantic came back. The two teams were tied, 17-17, at halftime.
UB improved to 2-2. Florida Atlantic fell to 1-3.
Play of the Game: Chuck Harris and Chris Ford stopped Singletary inches short of a first down on fourth down with 2:38 remaining. Say their last names fast: Harris and Ford.
Player of the Game: Singletary gained 156 yards on 22 carries and scored two touchdowns for Florida Atlantic. The Owls rushed for 262 yards in the game.
Going Deep: Anthony Johnson had six catches for 87 yards and a touchdown Saturday, but his three-game streak of games with a reception longer than 45 yards came to an end. The Bulls have had six plays of 45 yards or longer, one more than they had in 12 games last season.
Kiffin's Return: Lane Kiffin returned to Buffalo for the first time since 2008, when he was head coach of the Raiders. He was an elementary student in the Iroquois School District in the mid-1980s, when his father, Monte, was linebackers coach of the Bills under Hank Bullough. The last time a former NFL head coach stood on the opposite sideline at UB Stadium was in 2009, when Dave Wannstedt coached Pitt.
Warm Welcome: Florida Atlantic felt at home Saturday with temperatures in the mid-80s going into the game. The Owls had their share of weather-related issues in Boca Raton, Fla. Their home opener lasted almost six hours after being delayed by lightning. Hurricane Irma forced them to stay in Wisconsin the following week.
Hey Jealousy: Gin Blossoms was in town for the pregame concert and played before a good crowd. Clear skies and sunshine made conditions ideal for any outdoor activity, including tailgating. UB needs to get everyone from the parking lot into the stadium before the game – and stay there until the end.
Looking ahead: UB visits Kent State next week Saturday in a conference opener for both teams. Kent State beat Buffalo, 44-20, in the first conference game last season at UB Stadium. Florida Atlantic will play Conference USA rival Middle Tennessee.