The University at Buffalo’s punt return scoring drought is over.
Sophomore Jacob Martinez returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown with 1:32 left in Saturday’s 51-14 victory over Albany.
It was UB’s first punt return TD since Aug. 29, 2002, when Andre Forde returned an 83-yarder for a score against Lehigh. UB’s streak of 154 games was the longest in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Martinez was 7 years old when Forde scored.
“I knew I had a little bit of time because I looked and saw the gunner gave me a little bit of space,” Martinez said of Albany’s wide coverage man. “I tried to run outside a little bit because he was taking away the inside. He overran it so I was able to plant and get upfield, and I found an opening.”
Player of the Game: UB QB Joe Licata hit 20 of 26 passes for 246 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Ground and pound: UB senior running back Anthone Taylor looked every bit as good as last year, when he rushed for 1,403 yards. Taylor gained 107 yards on 14 carries and scored two touchdowns. His first score was a 21-yard run that put UB ahead, 17-7. His second was a 1-yarder that made it 31-7. It was his 10th 100-yard rushing game. UB backs rushed 38 times for 210 yards. Jordan Johnson had 11 carries for 69 yards. .
Taylor delivered some big blows on Albany tacklers.
“I was very excited just to get on the field today because I was tired of taking it easy on our guys,” Taylor said.
Slow start, strong finish: UB’s defense allowed a 14-play, 82-yard touchdown march on Albany’s first possession of the game. But the Bulls allowed just 187 yards the rest of the game.
INTs are back: UB’s defense made just two interceptions all last season. The Bulls had two pickoffs vs. Albany. Middle linebacker Nick Gilbo made a pickoff late in the second quarter. Cornerback Boise Ross had one early in the third.
New safeties: True freshman Brandon Stanback, from Harrisburg, Pa., started the game at safety along with sophomore Ryan Williamson. Stanback took the spot of Andrews Dadeboe, who had started all training camp but who suffered a minor injury this week. Junior Houston Glass rotated some with Stanback.
True frosh: Besides Stanback, other true freshmen who saw action were running back Jonathan Hawkins, receiver Brandon Smiley, defensive tackle Justin Brandon, defensive end Charles Harris and cornerback Cameron Lewis.
“Nineteen players today played their first college football game, that’s a lot,” said coach Lance Leipold. “With that there’s going to be a learning curve but I’m very pleased we were able to do that.”
Injured: UB red-shirt freshman Jordan Collier was injured early in the game covering a kickoff return in the first quarter. He took a blow to the head and was down on the field about 10 minutes, but he was conscious and moving his arms and legs. He was taken to a hospital as a precaution and was released from the hospital.
FBS: It was Albany’s first-ever game against a full FBS team. Albany is picked for 10th in the Colonial Athletic Association.
In the House: The paid attendance was 20,872.
Next Up: The Bulls visit Penn State at noon Saturday.