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Lethal Jackson-Johnson combo keeps UB football's hopes alive for bowl eligibility

The University at Buffalo’s hopes for a bowl game lives to see another week, thanks in most part to the duo of quarterback Tyree Jackson and wide receiver Anthony Johnson.

The two hooked up for four touchdowns through the air Thursday night as the Bulls came away with a 40-24 win at Ball State.

UB improved to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in the Mid-American Conference, which sets up must-win season finale next Friday at 1 p.m. against visiting Ohio (8-3, 5-2) in order to become bowl eligible.

Ohio beat the Bulls last season, 34-10, while UB beat the Bobcats in 2015, 41-17. The programs are 3-3 against each other the past six years.

Jackson tossed three scoring passes of 21, 14 and 11 yards to Johnson in the first half to help the Bulls open up a 23-10 lead at the break.

UB scored first out of the half on a 16-yard jet sweep by K.J. Osborn (five catches, 76 yards). Johnson then hauled in a 56-yard TD pass to make the score 37-17 heading into the final frame.

Jackson finished with 350 yards on 16-of-28 passing to become the first QB in school history to throw for 300-plus yards in three straight games.

With 3,196 passing yards as a team, the Bulls became the fourth group to surpass 3,000 for a single season. About 1,800 have come from Jackson. The team needs to pass for just 130 more yards to tie the single-season record of 3,326 set in 2008 over 14 games.

Johnson, who finished with seven catches and 153 yards, tied Chris D’Amico (1983) and Alex Neutz (2012) for the school record for TD receptions in a single game.

The junior moved past Drew Haddad for third in school history for receiving yards in a single season with 1,201. That leaves him 201 yards behind Naaman Roosevelt’s top mark of 1,402 set in 2008.

Roosevelt caught a school-record 13 TD passes that season. Johnson, now at 12, is tied for second with Neutz (2013).

The Bulls were also able to pile up 215 yards on the ground.

Emmanuel Reed led the way with 123 yards on 18 carries, while Theo Anderson finished with 91 on 14 carries. Antonio Nunn added two catches for 102 yards.

A defense led by Chuck Harris (13 tackles, sack) and Khalil Hodge (12 tackles, sack) helped limit the Cardinals to 143 yards passing. Safety Ryan Williamson had an interception.

Ball State has historically been a tough team for UB to beat. It’s the first win at the home of the Cardinals and the second win against them in 11 all-time meetings.

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