UB improves to 2-2 with huge win over Temple

A strong defensive performance propels the Bulls past the Owls

Jon Simon
September 21, 2019 - 9:09 pm

Photo: John David Mercer - USA TODAY Sports

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Amherst, NY (WGR 550) -- The University at Buffalo Bulls put on their best performance so far in 2019 on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Temple Owls 38-22 to earn their first victory in three weeks and even their record to 2-2 on the season. 

It was the Bulls' first game back at UB Stadium since their season-opening 38-10 win over Robert Morris back on August 29. After a couple of crushing road losses, returning to home proved to pay off for the Bulls, as they noticeably out-played the previously 2-0 Temple Owls, who defeated a Maryland team that was ranked in the AP Top-25 a week ago, from the start of the second quarter all the way to the finish.

“I’m really proud of the guys,” Bulls head coach Lance Leipold said following the win. “We were short-handed in a couple spots. Our guys really worked hard this week. Playing a team like Temple after their big win, along with our performance at Liberty, we really challenged the group a little bit. We have to be ready each and every day. I have to make sure they’re ready. 30 minutes of good football at Penn State isn’t going to carry you very far, and [the team] accepted that and worked. I’m really happy with the way they played.”

Temple looked like the much stronger team out of the gate. Buffalo’s red-shirt freshman quarterback Matt Myers was picked off on the first drive of the game by the Owls’ Christian Braswell. Temple followed the interception up with a 12-play touchdown drive, in which they converted on two fourth downs to keep the possession alive. That would end up being the only time the Owls offense had the ball in the first quarter. The Bulls responded with a seven-minute scoring drive of their own that was capped off by a 52-yard field goal from true freshman Jackson Baltar. The field goal was not only the first attempt of Baltar’s UB career, but it also tied for the second-longest field goal in school history.

Baltar’s field goal was just the beginning of what would be a momentum shifting second quarter for UB. The next drive for Temple following the Bulls’ first score ended with a bad snap to sophomore punter Adam Berry, in which the ball was low and squeaked between his legs and rolled all the way back to the Owls’ seven-yard line for a loss of 40 yards. It took the Bulls just two plays to capitalize on their opponent’s error, as Jaret Patterson ran the ball into the end zone from four yards out to put UB in front 10-7.

The Bulls added to their lead shortly after the defense forced their first of four turnovers on the afternoon. With 8:26 left on the clock in the second quarter, Ledarius Mack came up with a sack on third down and forced a fumble that was recovered by Buffalo’s Eric Black at the Temple 19-yard line. The Bulls would once again take advantage of the short field in quick fashion. Myers capped off the three-play drive that lasted just 1:24 with a seven-yard touchdown run to put UB ahead 17-7.

“The defense played outstanding today,” said Myers, who finished with nine completions on 15 attempts for 62 yards, along with 14 rushing yards on five carries. “The short field position that we had in the second quarter and in the second half really helped out a lot. It makes things a lot easier, having to go 40 yards (for a touchdown) instead 80 yards.”

The UB defense got off the field rather quickly again, forcing another Temple three-and-out on their next possession. The Bulls offense followed that up with a 14-play drive that covered 84 yards in 5:43 and resulted in a two-yard touchdown run from Kevin Marks that stretched the UB lead to 24-7 with 22 seconds left in the first half. Marks finished the game with 72 yards on 22 attempts to go with his one score.

The Bulls would take the 17-point lead into the locker room, and while the offense did seem to finally find the rhythm and chemistry it’s been looking for, it was the defense that propelled the team the entire afternoon. Aside from the kneel-down to end the first half, the last three Temple possessions in the second quarter lasted just 1:25, 0:41, and 0:57, and ended with a punt, fumble, and punt respectively. The Bulls also out-possessed Temple in the first half, holding the ball for 18:55 compared to the Owls’ 11:05. For the game, UB racked up just over 37 minutes of possession time while Temple had the ball for just 22:51.

The defensive dominance carried over into the second half for the Bulls. Aapri Washington picked-off Temple quarterback Anthony Russo on just the third play of the third quarter, marking the third turnover forced by the UB defense. Just a few minutes later, senior cornerback Devon Russell came up with the second interception of the afternoon for the Bulls defense. Russell’s pick gave the offense a short field to work with once again, putting them at the Temple 23-yard line to start their drive. Jaret Patterson ran for his second touchdown of the game just four plays later to put the Bulls up 31-7 with 6:46 left in the third quarter. Patterson led the UB with 133 yards on the ground on 27 carries.

Temple would kick a field goal to cut Buffalo’s lead down to 31-10 before the end of the third quarter, but the Bulls put the game on ice midway through the fourth when Joey Banks came up with the defense’s third interception and fourth turnover overall, and took it 46 yards to the end zone to put UB ahead 38-10.

It was quite a turnaround for the Bulls defense, and more specifically the secondary, a group that had a rough last six quarters against Penn State and Liberty. UB also had yet to record an interception in their three games prior to Saturday’s; and coming away with three was quite the confidence boost.

“We just had to dial in and focus on everyone on the field doing their job,” Banks said when asked about the improvement on defense. “The past couple of weeks it’s been little mistakes that have turned into larger outcomes that cause a larger deficit and decide the outcome of the game. This week we really emphasized on everyone just focusing on what they had to do to win their matchup. Everyone focused on winning their one-on-one matchup and it paid off… We played as a unit, as a team. No one was out there being selfish, trying to make plays on their own. We let the plays come to us, and it started up front. [The defensive line] was causing havoc up front and it trickled down into the secondary.”

The Owls would add a pair of touchdowns in the final frame to cut into the UB lead. However, Temple failed to make it a one-possession game after coming up empty on a both two-point conversion attempts.

“Sometimes as a head coach, when you survive in the fourth quarter like we did, its kind of one of the games I like,” Leipold admitted. “You win by enough, but you have plenty of things you have to improve on and make sure you grab [the players] attention if you want to keep moving in the right direction.”

The Bulls will head to Miami, Ohio next Saturday to open up conference play against the RedHawks (1-3) with kickoff scheduled for 12 p.m. The game will be available on the radio home of the UB Bulls, ESPN 1520, along with complete pre-game and post-game coverage.

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