The University at Buffalo defense turned in a valiant performance Saturday night . . . despite the fact it gave up 396 rushing yards to Army.
UB held Army to just two touchdowns and two field goals in 11 possessions en route to a 23-20 overtime victory.
Army averaged 41.7 points in going 3-0 and ranks second in the nation in rushing with an average of 367 yards a game.
The Bulls’ defense stopped Army on its last four possessions, forcing a turnover on downs, a punt and two missed field goals.
“We played well,” said UB defensive end Brandon Crawford. “We took the game plan the coaches gave us and we executed it.”
UB succeeded in containing Army’s dive play up the middle. Army fullback Andy Davidson, who had rushed for 335 yards and six touchdowns the first three games, was held to 80 yards. He had just 17 yards at halftime.
That forced Army to rely more on pitches to the perimeter of the field.
UB linebacker Jarrett Franklin, who started for the UB team that gave up 49 points at Army two years ago, said it was the most satisfying team defensive performance of his career.
“For me, this is No. 1,” Franklin said. “You can see the defense when we come together how we perform. This was going to be the most difficult challenge we’ve faced. . . . We had our whole team rallying to the ball.”
Franklin led UB with 17 tackles. Middle linebacker Khalil Hodge had 16, Crawford 13 and defensive back Cameron Lewis 12.
Key injury: Army’s senior place-kicker, Mitchell Howard, was lost to a leg injury suffered on the opening kickoff. Back-up kicker Blake Wilson made a 21-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 38-yard field goal in the third quarter.
But Wilson missed a 34-yard attempt wide left with 3 seconds left in regulation that would have won it for the Black Knights. Then on the first series of overtime, Wilson missed wide right on a 43-yard attempt.
First OT: Leipold said it was the first-ever overtime game of his career as a head coach, assistant coach or player.
Turnover: UB forced Army’s first turnover of the season on the opening drive of the second half. Cornerback Brandon Williams put a big hit on Jordan Asberry as he was receiving a pitch. The ball bounded away and Ishmael Hargrove recovered at the Army 23. UB turned it into a touchdown.
Lineup notes: UB was without cornerback Boise Ross for the first half due to the targeting foul he incurred last week. Sophomore Brandon Williams started in his place. UB moved cornerback Cam Lewis to safety and safety Andrews Dadeboe on the edge. Dadeboe gave UB a bigger edge defender, and Lewis provided a sure tackler on the back line. Ross was required to sit in the locker room for the first half, according to NCAA rules. In the second half, Ross took Dadeboe’s spot on the edge and Lewis stayed at safety.
Fourth down: Army is so confident in its running game it goes for it on fourth down a lot. Army was 5 for 5 on fourth down entering the game. That included a fourth-and-1 situation from its own 26 that it converted against Rice.
In the house: Paid attendance was 19,217.
Up next: UB plays at Boston College at 1 p.m. Saturday. B.C. stands 2-2 after routing lower-division Wagner, 42-10. B.C. lost to Georgia Tech (17-14) and Virginia Tech (49-0) and beat Massachusetts (26-7).