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UB football drops to 0-3 after 38-26 loss at Coastal Carolina

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Buffalo Bulls annual spring football game

UB Bulls head coach Maurice Linguist runs the annual spring game at UB Stadium.

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CONWAY, S.C. – You almost felt the life get sucked out of the University at Buffalo football team’s sideline after a jaw-dropping sequence of events in the fourth quarter of a 38-26 loss Saturday at Coastal Carolina.

The Chanticleers pounced on a bobbled snap by punter Jackson Baltar, and Jahmar Brown returned the fumble recovery for a 21-yard touchdown that gave Coastal a 24-19 lead 45 seconds into the fourth quarter. On the first play of the ensuing drive, UB quarterback Cole Snyder slung a pass of more than 25 yards intended for Quian Williams, but Coastal cornerback Jacob Proche beat Williams to the throw, intercepted the pass and set up Coastal’s next scoring drive, which opened its lead to 31-19.  

Right as UB rued those mistakes, you saw the sudden rush of excitement fuel the Chanticleers and the white-clad crowd at Brooks Stadium in a game that at times turned sloppy and was in no way indicative of Coastal Carolina’s recent success – or of UB’s.

By the time Snyder connected with Williams for a 10-yard touchdown that cut Coastal’s lead to 31-26 with 5:36 left, it was almost a last gasp for the Bulls. Coastal had already done its damage. The Chanticleers scored 21 points off turnovers, with an additional touchdown on the recovery off the fumbled punt snap by the Bulls, and forced the Bulls to settle for four field goals on their first five scoring drives.  

Now, the Bulls are 0-3 to start a season for the first time since 2005, and can only pivot forward, to their Mid-American Conference schedule, which begins Sept. 24 at Eastern Michigan.

“That's not how anybody wants to start a season,” said Snyder, who threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns on 29 of 48 passing, and was intercepted twice. “But it hurts for sure. We had a great attitude about it. Obviously, nobody wants to start 0-3, but we’ve got to focus on the things we can control right now.”

Quian Williams took a tally of his mental calendar and considered the timing of UB’s poor fortunes.

“Fortunately, we start MAC play next week,” said Williams, who caught eight passes for 62 yards and a touchdown. “Everything is right in front of us that we set out to do. Win MAC championships. Win bowl championships. The road to the MAC championship starts next Saturday. We’re still right where we want to be. I’m in high hopes. I’m extremely confident in what we have in front of us.”

Given the Bulls haven’t won a game since Oct. 23, 2021, it’s difficult to fathom the idea of this team winning any trophies this season. The first three losses exposed a lot of flaws. There isn't much tangible success.

“It's so easy to look at, ‘Hey, here's the result,’ and then get caught up in the moment and be a prisoner of the moment, and of the result,” UB coach Maurice Linguist said. “What you see in this group is a tough group of guys that will fight to the very end. We had opportunities to win the game. We have to coach and execute better in critical moments, and we’ll watch this film.”

Still, UB takes the blank-slate approach to the next 10 weeks of the schedule. Given they’ve lost on a Hail Mary pass to an FCS team, then squandered a five-point lead to one of the Group of Five’s recent favorites, putting things in the past is the only thing the Bulls can do now, after a culmination of mistakes that have led them to being 0-3 for the first time in 17 years.

“Handle adversity, respond and dominate,” safety Jahmin Muse said. “Conference play is really important. We still have the opportunity to win the MAC East, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

No control: The Bulls and Chanticleers had six combined turnovers in the first half: five lost fumbles and an interception. In the first half, UB linebacker James Patterson recovered a fumble by Coastal running back Reese White 32 seconds into the game. Then, a little more than four minutes later, Ibrahim Kante recovered a fumble by Chanticleers wide receiver D’Andre Coleman.

UB’s first turnover of the season came a little more than five minutes into the game, when Coastal Carolina sacked Snyder, who lost a grip on the ball. Chanticleers defensive tackle Kennedy Roberts recovered the fumble.

Then, Muse forced a fumble against Chanticleers running back Reese White inside the UB 15, and recovered a bobbled ball late in the first quarter. Caleb Offord’s fumble recovery with 6:14 left in the first half became the fifth turnover, but D’Jordan Strong intercepted Snyder’s pass and returned it 38 yards to the UB 10, which set up Caleb Beasley’s touchdown with 5:48 left in the half.  

The Chanticleers and Bulls combined for eight turnovers. 

Production on the pass, but a near-stagnant run: The Bulls had 93 offensive plays (49 passing, 44 rushing) to Coastal Carolina’s 53 (25 passing, 28 rushing), and averaged 9.3 yards per passing play but only 1.3 yards per rush. Still, the Bulls seemed to be in position to maximize a 15-play drive of more than seven minutes that bridged the first and second quarters, and scooted UB to the Coastal 26.

However, the Bulls had to settle for the third of Alex McNulty’s four field goals, a 42-yard kick that gave UB a 9-7 lead.

“We’ll be able to point to these things – and we love that we're able to make these field goals and critical situations – but this is something that we're going to be able to point to, moving forward, that touchdowns win games,” Linguist said. “Touchdowns in the red zone. That's ultimately what wins you games. We had those four possessions, we come away with field goals, although we made them, it's not enough when you're when you're playing really competitive games that are back-and-forth type games. We need the touchdown.”

A shift in the secondary: UB cornerback Elijah Blades did not participate in pregame warmups. He was on the sideline with a walking boot/splint on his left leg. Cornerback Logic Hudgens did not travel to Coastal Carolina this weekend. When asked by the News if Hudgens was still on the team or had entered the transfer portal, Linguist said Hudgens did not travel with the team and “we're working on some things internally to find the next move.”

Hudgens did not respond to a message by the News asking about his status with the program. Hudgens, a junior cornerback from Maryland, had 11 tackles in UB’s first two games.

UB shifted its secondary. Jayden Oliver and Caleb Offord started at cornerback, Keyshawn Cobb at nickelback and Marcus Fuqua and started at safety. Jalen McNair and Solomon Brown also rotated in a safety, and Isaiah King at cornerback.

“It’s a next-man-up mentality,” Muse said. “We all prepare the same. We all practice every day, we all come out every day and put everything all the line. There’s no dropoff, because we all prepare the same way. We were prepared for it. We knew Elijah wasn’t going to play. We knew Logic wasn’t going to make the trip. We were prepared for it. It wasn’t that much that we couldn’t handle.”

Sack lunch: The Chanticleers sacked Snyder five times, including four times in the first half, for a loss of 26 yards. Prior to Saturday, the Bulls had given up four sacks against Maryland and one against Holy Cross.  

Career first: Ron Cook Jr. threaded his first career pass in the first quarter, a 14-yard completion to tight end Trevor Borland. Cook, a running back, had 13 carries for 42 yards. Mike Washington led the Bulls with 59 yards on 15 carries.

Next: UB opens its Mid-American Conference schedule at noon Sept. 24 against Eastern Michigan at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, Mich.

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College/high school sports enterprise reporter

I'm a college/high school sports enterprise reporter at The Buffalo News. I've worked in sports journalism since 1997 and I have covered everything from college football to the Stanley Cup playoffs, high school sports and the NCAA Tournament.

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