The University at Buffalo slogged through another game where turnovers helped decide the outcome. Once again the Bulls committed four turnovers and once again they suffered a humiliating defeat, this time to Central Florida, 23-17, on Saturday night at Bright House Network Stadium.
The Bulls built a 17-7 turnover-free halftime lead before UCF (2-1) tied the game at 17-17 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Knights took the lead for good with 6:02 left on a 22-yard field goal by Nick Cattoi. UB (1-2) drove to the UCF 42 when on fourth-and-8 quarterback Zach Maynard's pass was intercepted by free safety Derrick Hallman.
Cattoi added another field goal, this one from 42 yards out with 1:33 left and the Bulls set up for their final drive, which was disrupted by defensive end Jarvis Geathers.
Geathers sacked Maynard on second down and then on third down sacked him and forced a fumble that was recovered by tackle Torrell Troup at the UB 17 and the game was over.
"We have to learn how to finish, it's as simple as that," UB coach Turner Gill said. "If we want to be a good football team we have to learn how to finish."
It was a deflating loss for UB, which begins Mid-American Conference play next weekend at Temple.
"It hurts when you're up and then let them come back and get the lead," Maynard said. "We have to keep our heads up and get ready for the conference game next week."
Not only did the Bulls suffer through another round of costly turnovers, but the run defense was once again undressed, this time by UCF tailback Brynn Harvey, who finished with 98 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns while quarterback Brett Hodges rushed 13 times for 17 yards.
UCF, which averaged just 70 yards rushing in its first two games, ran for 172 yards against the Bulls. Hodges' ability to run was especially surprising for the Bulls.
"We have to step up and stop them," UB senior free safety Mike Newton said. "At some point we have to get off the field on third down. All 11 of us have to get to the ball."
Maynard, UB's sophomore quarterback, finished the game 22 of 35 for 184 yards and a touchdown but his lone interception and fumble at the end of the game were costly.
Wideout Naaman Roosevelt had nine receptions for 77 yards and fired a touchdown pass to tight end Jesse Rack in the first half. Rack scored both of UB's touchdowns.
But in the second half the Bulls were held scoreless and produced just 101 yards.
"Turnovers hurt us again," said Rack, who finished with five receptions for 76 yards. "If we don't turn over the ball, the game might be over."
UCF made some defensive adjustments at the half to take Roosevelt out of the offense. He had only three receptions in the second half.
The Knights played a match defense with corners Justin Boddie and Darin Baldwin. They would back up before Roosevelt made a move inside but as soon as he did, the corners would jump the route.
"Then," Maynard said, "that would tag Naaman."
The Bulls pulled off a little razzle-dazzle for their second TD on an exhilarating triple reverse. Maynard pitched it right to tailback Ike Nduka, who ran left and pitched to wideout Brett Hamlin, who tossed it to wideout Roosevelt, who was rolling right. The former St. Joe's quarterback lofted a 34-yard touchdown strike to a wide-open Rack.
For Roosevelt, who was recruited by Gill to play quarterback, it was his first TD pass as a collegian.
On UCF's next drive, UB finally recorded its first turnover of the season when sophomore linebacker Scott Pettigrew stripped Hodges. The fumble was recovered by junior tackle Kenny Scott at the UB 49. Junior linebacker Justin Winters was also credited with a sack on the play.
The Bulls responded by converting two fourth-down plays before A.J. Principe nailed a 27-yard field goal to give UB a 17-7 halftime lead.
That would be the end of the Bulls' offensive highlights for the evening.
"Now," Newton said, "we have to look at ourselves in the mirror."
Central Florida 23, UB 17