OXFORD, OH -- Field goals made, field goals missed and field goal attempts that went away were all part of a 29-24 Buffalo Bulls win over Miami Thursday night at Yager Stadium.
Buffalo broke a 17-all halftime tie with two third quarter touchdowns and kept Miami off the board in the second half until a final touchdown with 2:21 remaining. Miami followed with an onside kick that took a favorable RedHawks bounce. Junior running back Jordan Johnson, however, was nearby and pounced on the ball to effectively end put the win away. The hosts got the ball one more time, but there were just 30 seconds left and MU took over at its own 19.
Johnson’s recovery capped a solid evening in which he went eclipsed the century mark rushing for the second time in as many starts. He had 147 yards the previous week against Ohio and followed that up with a net of 123 yards and two TDs against Miami. He also registered two catches for 17 yards.
Buffalo (4-4, 2-2 MAC) totaled 433 yards of offense to 348 for Miami (1-8, 0-5).
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Miami, meanwhile, was left contemplating what might have been, particularly concerning field goals. Each team kicked one field goal. Adam Mitcheson took advantage of a strong tail-wind to boot career-best 46-yard field goal on UB’s first possession. Kaleb Patterson hit a 33-yard kick to tie the game at 10-all with 10:16 remaining in the second period.
Two Buffalo possessions later, a Bull’s drive was halted at the MU 20. Mitcheson tried a 37-yard field goal, which missed. Officials however, threw a flag for defensive contact with the kicker, apparently on the follow through. Given a fourth-and-and one opportunity, Buffalo elected to go for the first down. Jordan gained 13 yards on the play and then followed with a two-yard touchdown run that put the visitors up 17-10.
Miami quickly responded following a 28-yard kickoff return by freshman Maurice Thomas, who totaled 102 on three kick returns, with a long of 54. Freshman quarterback Billy Bahl immediately hit Jared Murphy for 37 yards. Following a short run, Bahl found Sam Martin over the middle for 16 yards and a tying touchdown.
Between the two penalty-changed field goal attempts, UB picked up 11 points. It was a stiff price to pay, according to Miami head coach Chuck Martin, who voiced his displeasure at the time and later said his team would have been better off to just stand there and watch during the two field goal attempts.
Ron Willoughby’s tough, leaping catch with a defender on him provided Buffalo with its final score at 4:29 of the third stanza. That put the Bulls up, 29-17, the defense kept Miami at bay until Bahl capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive with his two-yard pitch to Ryan Smith at 2:21. The RedHawks could not get the ball again until just 30 seconds remained. A multi-lateral play deep in Miami territory as time expired failed and Bahl was sacked on an untimed down following a penalty on that play.
Miami’s run game provided 124 yards on 31 carries. Leonard Ross (6/43 yds) and Kenny Young (10/36 yds) led the way.
Sophomore safety Butchi Okafor led the RedHawks defense with 10 tackles, followed by Kent Kern (9) and Brison Burris (7). The latter provided MU with its first score – at 76-yard interception return that gave the hosts their only lead, 7-6. That was ever-so-brief, however, as Willoughby made a juggling catch under contact of a Licata bomb for a 78-yard TD on the very next play from scrimmage. Willoughby had two receptions on the evening – both for touchdowns.
"We talked all week about someone needing to make a play and Joe threw the ball out there, and it looked like a tough throw, but it was a perfect throw and I was able to catch it and make the play for the team," Willoughby said of his first score.
Licata completed 22 of 29 with two touchdowns and one interception. Miami had its hands on two others, but could not hold on.
Matt Weiser led UB receivers in receptions with five for 56 yards. Seven players had at least two receptions.
Linebackers Nick Gilbo and Okezie Alozie paced the Buffalo defense with six stops apiece.
Miami remains at home remains at home for is next two contests and meets Eastern Michigan Saturday, Sept. 7. Both teams lost Thursday and enter their matchup with one win. Buffalo gets another Thursday night road gig as it faces Kent State Nov. 5. The Flashes lost to Bowling Green last Saturday.