The University at Buffalo trailed Bowling Green, 17-13, late in the fourth quarter. UB was without its starting tailback, who got knocked out of the game the same play he muffed a fourth-quarter punt. A steady rain fell.
And when it rains it pours for the Bulls, who were on the verge of losing their 19th straight game. Bam McDonald's replacement was having trouble moving forward as his first two carries went for minus-4 yards.
But then something called "47 toss" happened.
Marquis Dwarte took a pitch from quarterback Joe Freedy and dashed 27 yards into the end zone with 1:27 left to play and the Bulls held on to shock the Falcons with a 20-17 comeback victory in front of the 8,081 UB Stadium fans undeterred by the downpour.
"This has been a long process," UB coach Craig Cirbus said. "We've won one game, but that means a lot to those people who have been through the losing seasons.
"I think it was our time."
It certainly was Dwarte's time. The redshirt freshman entered the game with 17 yards on seven carries.
"Coach called '47 toss' to the wide side of the field," Dwarte said. "We got a good kick-out block, and once I got underneath the block, I just turned it on and headed to the end zone."
Had UB lost, it would have been tied with idle Ball State for the nation's longest skid.
The Bulls' last victory over a Division I opponent was against Holy Cross on Oct. 31, 1970, before the NCAA had created the Division I-AA level.
"Buffalo played a courageous game," Bowling Green coach Gary Blackney said.
The game marked the Mid-American Conference opener for the schools, both of which entered the game 0-3.
"Our kids maybe have gone through more than their kids," Cirbus said. "It was time for them to win."
Freedy completed 24 of 38 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
He used seven different targets, but went to Andre Forde and Zeke McKine most often. He hit Forde five times for 46 yards and a touchdown. He hit McKine six times for 46 yards.
Forde also led all UB rushers with 31 yards on two end-around plays. Dwarte finished with 23 yards, and Derrick Gordon had 20 yards on seven carries.
The Bulls turned the ball over three times. Two miscues led to the Falcons' last 10 points and would have led to more if not for shoddy field-goal kicking.
Freedy threw a pair of first-half interceptions. The first resulted in a missed 27-yard field goal attempt, but Bowling Green capitalized on the second by scoring a go-ahead touchdown.
The Falcons added a 32-yard field goal in the fourth quarter after McDonald botched a punt return on the UB 47. McDonald, who started at tailback, sprained his knee on the play and didn't return after rushing 11 times for 3 yards.
Bowling Green neither lost a fumble nor threw an interception.
Despite the turnovers in its own territory, UB's defense played well. After allowing 122 points in the first two games, the Bulls have allowed only 41 in their last two.
The Falcons converted only 4 of 17 third downs, but they did step up their running game with 112 yards. The Falcons entered the game having been held to 61 yards on 68 carries.
"Our defense came to play tonight," Cirbus said. "I give a lot of credit to the character of those guys."
Bowling Green quarterback Andy Sahm, who took a beating late in the first half, was knocked out of the game with a possible concussion and did not play after halftime. He completed 2 of 9 passes for 19 yards and had a 1-yard touchdown run.
Sahm was sacked three times, but the knockout blow likely came after UB linebacker Duane Williams recorded his second sack of the night. Williams did not practice all week because of a sprained left ankle.
The Falcons, however, didn't drop off much when they went to senior backup Ricky Schneider, who threw for 1,121 yards and nine TDs last year. Blackney said after the game Schneider also might have suffered a concussion.
"They blitzed us very well and at times we picked it up," Blackney said. "But when we needed to pass, they were upfield and they were pulling our quarterbacks up."
Freedy, as he has on a few drives this season, looked unstoppable on UB's second possession. He completed all seven of his passes for 67 yards and threw for five first downs.
He capped the 12-play, 80-yard drive with a 2-yard toss to Chad Bartoszek for the first score of the night. Scott Keller kicked the extra point and UB led, 7-0, at 4:48 of the first quarter.
Bowling Green's offense failed to cash in on a couple of drives deep into UB territory. New kicker Kyle Turano, who had replaced the struggling Mike Knapp, missed field-goal attempts from 35 and 27 yards. The first try was wide left, while the latter struck the right upright.
But the Falcons got going in the second quarter and tied the score at 11:33 after John Gibson bowled into the end zone from 2 yards out. They went up, 14-7, at 9:50 on a 1-yard Sahm run.
The Bulls had a chance to tie the game with 6:31 left in the half. Freedy completed a 2-yard pass to Forde for a touchdown, but Keller missed the extra point. The Falcons led, 14-13, a score that held until halftime.