AKRON, Ohio -- Fourth down, 6 yards to go at the Akron 29 with just under two minutes to play. Trailing , 21-20, University at Buffalo coach Lance Leipold chose to have Adam Mitcheson try a 46 yards field goal rather than go for it.
Mitcheson, who had kicked field goals earlier from 37 and 36 yards, had not made a field goal longer than 42 this season, although he did hit from 46 yards two seasons ago against Miami (Ohio).
This time, his try hooked badly to the left. Akron took over with 1:51 left and ran for two first downs to eat up the remaining time and walk off with the win before a Homecoming Day crowd of 17,427 at InnfoCision Stadium.
Another close call for the Bulls, who fell to 3-6 overall and 1-4 in the Mid-American Conference. Akron improved to 5-4 and 4-1. UB had lost its four MAC games by a total of 15 points, two by one point, another by three in seven overtimes.
Even the surprise return from knee injury of starting quarterback Tyree Jackson could not get the hard-luck Bulls over the hump.
UB led three times Saturday, but its defense failed each time.
"It's disappointing," Leipold said. "We had opportunities, but we didn't make the plays when we needed to. We need to find a way to close the gap and start to pull these games out."
Emmanuel Reed, who gained 115 yards in 28 carries in a return to his earlier form put the Bulls in front with a 2-yard run with 6:10 left in the first quarter. The Zips quickly tied it with the first of three touchdown passes by Thomas Woodson. This was was good for 23 yards to Fransohn Bickley.
Mitcheson's field goal from 37 put the Bulls back in front, 10-7, in the second quarter but Woodson connected for a 41-yard scoring play with Austin Wolf with 4:50 left in the first half.
Mitcheson came through again from 36 yards with 4 seconds left in the half to cut the deficit to one, 14-13.
Akron went three-and-out in its first two possessions of the second half. Finally, the Bulls took the lead when Reed ran for 10 yards to cap a 54-yard drive.
The Zips' next series ended with an interception by UB senior safety Tim Roberts at the UB 1 but the sense of relief didn't last long. The Bulls pushed out to their 40, punted on fourth-and-1 with a 51-yard kick by Kyle DeWeen pinning Akron at its 9-yard line with 11:23 left in the fourth quarter.
Here the UB defense had what became a series of breakdowns agaisnt the run in the final minutes. On first down from the 9, Deltron Sands broke away for a 32 yards to the Akron 41. Two Woodson passes and a run for a first down by Manny Morgan put the Zips at the UB 36. Woodson hit Kevin Gladney for 36 yards and the go-ahead touchdown.
UB came right back with Jackson completing six passes in a row to get to the Akron 43. Reed ran for 4 yards but incompletions on the next two plays set up the go-for-it or try a field goal situation confronting Leipold. His choice didn't work out.
Jackson, who had missed four games after he was injured in the Florida Atlantic game on Sept. 23, performed like had never missed a snap. He compelted 34 of 50 passes for 313 yards with a long of 40 yards. He did throw one costly interception midway through the second quarter when Jordan George picked off his throw in the end zone for a touchback, ending a 41-yard advance.
Akron's Woodson completed 21 of 29 passes for 291 yards and all three of the Zips' touchdown.
UB ran 84 plays from scrimmage to 54 for the Zips but outgained the home team by only 313-291. Roberts and Jarrett Franklin led the UB in tackles with six each. Khalil Hodge, who was leading the nation with 14.4 tackles per game, had only four stops against Akron, which ran the ball only 25 times.
The Bulls don't play again until Tuesday, Nov. 7 when they will play Bowling Green at UB Stadium in game that will be telecast nationally on ESPN2 and ESPNU.