Bulls drubbed by Army for first loss of 2018

UB falls to 4-1 following its loss to the Black Knights

Jon Simon
September 29, 2018 - 5:50 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports


23,671 fans were packed into UB Stadium on Saturday afternoon to see the Bulls take on the Army Black Knights in, arguably, the most anticipated Bulls game in recent memory.

Unfortunately for the UB faithful, the Bulls came up short against Army (3-2) for the second time in two years, dropping their first game of the season 42-13.

It wasn’t surprising that this game drew the fifth-highest attendance in UB Stadium history. The Bulls were off to their best start in decades and boasted one of the more exciting offenses in college football.

Ironically, the Bulls' offense couldn’t find a spark against Army and looked flat for most of the game.

Without any question, Tyree Jackson had his worst performance of 2018. His first completion of the game was a screen pass to K.J. Osborn, who ran it 53 yards to the end zone to put the Bulls up 7-0 just 1:11 into the game.

From there, on Jackson struggled. The junior quarterback completed just one pass on nine attempts the first quarter and could never find a rhythm throughout the game. Jackson finished the afternoon with 10 completions on 24 attempts for 152 yards and a touchdown.

“They took it to us today,” Jackson said after the game. “It’s a tough loss, but I don’t think anything less of our team or any less of our offense. I think we still have a lot of playmakers and we’re going to continue to make plays throughout the year, but today was just a tough day.”

Part of Jackson’s struggles could be attributed to the fact that his top target, Anthony Johnson, was limited to a handful of snaps due to a hamstring injury he suffered last week against Rutgers.

After scoring on their opening drive, the Bulls got a turnover on Army’s first possession with an interception from Brandon Williams; but from there, it was all Black Knights. Army’s second drive covered 74 yards in 11 plays and was capped off by a five-yard rushing touchdown from Calen Holt to tie the game at 7-7.

After Army went up 14-7, UB put together a solid drive that was suddenly thwarted after the Black Knights blocked the Bulls’ field goal attempt and took the ball 81 yards the other way to go up 21-7 with four minutes left in the first half.

UB cut the Army lead to eight mid-way through the third quarter with a one-yard touchdown run from Kevin Marks. However, after a failed extra-point attempt, the Bulls trailed 21-13 and that was as close as they would come.

Army tacked on a late touchdown in the third quarter and added two more in the fourth to reach the final 42-13 score.

There was really no specific person or group to blame the Bulls loss on as UB struggled on both sides of the ball.

The offense’s downfall was their lack of execution. The Bulls converted on third down only twice out of 11 attempts and went 1-for-2 in the red zone.

“In games like this when [Army] controls the ball like they do, you’re trying to maximize your possessions and today was just a totally unproductive day as a whole,” Bulls head coach Lance Leipold said.

On the other side, Army converted on nine of their 14 third downs and were 100-percent in the red zone, scoring all three times they got inside the UB 20-yard line.

With that being said, Army’s defense deserves a lot of credit. This was a defense that held two of the countries’ top offenses in Oklahoma and Hawaii to just 21 points in regulation, and they turned in another strong performance against a UB offense that had scored 35 points or more in their four previous games this year.

On the offensive side of the ball, Army did exactly what everyone thought they would do - run the ball over and over again, 64 times to be exact.

The Bulls had no answer for the Black Knights' triple option offense. Army finished with 281 yards on the ground to Buffalo’s 103. Army also out-possessed the Bulls, which was also expected. The Black Knights had 15 more minutes of possession time than UB.

“Army’s offense is always challenging,” Bulls linebacker Khalil Hodge said following the loss. “You’re taking yourself out of everything that you’ve learned all summer and all fall and for a week you’re doing things completely different. We knew the offense was going to be different and we prepared for it. We just have to be better next week.”

There was a small silver lining for Hodge in this game. In the second quarter, the senior passed Khalil Mack for eighth all-time on UB’s career tackles list.

With the loss, the Bulls fall to 4-1 on the season and finish non-conference play with a 3-1 record. The remaining seven games will all be against MAC teams. UB will head to Mt. Pleasant, Michigan next weekend to take on the Central Michigan Chippewas (1-4). Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.

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