Quarterback Tyree Jackson and the University at Buffalo offensive players had their best day of the season in Saturday’s 31-21 loss to Ball State.
However, two failures on fourth-and-1 running plays by the UB offense helped turn the game in Ball State’s favor.
Leading by 14-7 early in the fourth quarter, UB faced a fourth-and-1 play from Ball State 25. Jackson was stopped for no gain.
Late in the third quarter, Jackson was stopped for no gain on a read-option play off right tackle on a fourth and 1 from Ball State’s 37. UB was down, 21-14, at the time. Ball State drove for another TD on the ensuing possession.
“Their defense did a great job on those plays,” Jackson said. “They had everything hatted up. I’ll take the blame on those. No matter what I feel like I should get the first down.”
UB coach Lance Leipold regretted going for it on the first fourth-down situation.
“I made a mistake,” Leipold said. “I should have went for the points and tried to put us ahead by two scores on the first one. That’s on me and I put our guys in a very bad position.”
Jackson completed 28 of 46 passes for a season-high 306 yards, with three TDs and no interceptions. He also ran 17 times for 64 yards. And he was sacked only once despite heavy blitzing by the Ball State defense. The Cardinals entered the day second in the Mid-American Conference in sacks with 22.
Jackson’s numbers could have been even bigger. He threw a perfect long ball on a deep post pattern to Kamathi Holsey that was dropped. It would have been an 80-yard touchdown. Marcus McGill dropped what would have been a 30-yard pass in the second half, and K.J. Osborn dropped a ball that would have been a tough catch on a deep post in the fourth quarter.
“Their safeties played real low,” Jackson said. “They’re real run-stoppers. We felt like we had a lot of throws we felt we could make behind them. We took our shots. Some worked out. We had one called back for a tackle in the backfield. We did what we were supposed to against them but we’ve got to make some more completions.”
UB scores: Jackson’s TDs came on throws of 7 yards to tight end Mason Schreck, 13 yards to Malcolm Robinson and 39 yards to Osborn.
Bull numbers: Jordan Johnson rushed for 76 yards on 12 carries. Schreck led UB with nine catches for 61 yards. Robinson had five catches for 80 yards.
No return: UB almost scored on a fumble return in the second quarter. Demone Harris sacked the quarterback and forced a fumble that Jarrett Franlin scooped up at the UB 48. He returned it 49 yards to the Ball State 3. But most of the return was wiped out by a personal foul by UB’s Chris Ford on the runback. Instead of getting the ball near the goal line, UB took over at its own 43 and went three and out.
Zebra report I: In the second quarter, UB’s Jamarl Eiland fielded a short, low punt near midfield and broke into the clear down the left sideline. But the play was whistled dead. Because the punt was a liner, UB’s Jacob Martinez had waved his arms to give an “incomplete” signal in order to tell his return team to stay away from it. The officials interpreted it as a fair catch signal. Leipold said the call was correct. Any waving of the arms, even below the waist, constitutes a fair-catch call.
Zebra report II: In the third quarter, Jackson threw a 36-yard TD pass to Kamathi Holsey but it was wiped out by an illegal formation penalty. It was a dubious call. The officials ruled a UB tackle was slightly off the line of scrimmage. Leipold was not happy.
“Do you see a lot of those calls?” he said.
Zebra report III: Ball State’s fourth TD drive was aided by a third-down offsides call on UB. But Ball State RB Teddy Williamson moved first on the play and the officials missed it.
Lineup notes: UB was without starting right tackle Tyler O’Henly (concussion). Junior David Goldsby started a second straight game in O’Henly’s spot. . . . UB's Martinez returned to action in a reserve role. He had been out with a shoulder injury since early in the opening game.
In the house: Paid attendance was 16,092.
Up next: UB visits Northern Illinois in DeKalb, Ill., at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Northern Illinois (1-6) lost in triple overtime to Central Michigan.