DEKALB, IL – Turnovers cost the University at Buffalo football team in a 44-7 loss to Northern Illinois at Huskie Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Huskies were able to capitalize on Buffalo's four first-half turnovers to build a 31-7 lead at the half and never looked back. It was a disappointing afternoon for a team that had prided itself on taking care of the football – committing only three turnovers in the previous five games.
Jordan Johnson had his best game in recent memory, rushing for 97 yards and a touchdown on only 13 carries. The senior running back surpassed Lee Jones for seventh place in school history with 1,615 career rushing yards.
The day didn't start off well for the Bulls as the Huskies returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Later in the quarter, Northern Illinois capitalized on an interception with a field goal to quickly take a 10-0 lead.
The turnovers spoiled an afternoon in which the Bulls showed some efficiency moving the football. Buffalo mounted a 9-play, 90-yard drive and Johnson scored on a 29-yard run off left tackle to cut the NIU lead to 10-7.
Trailing, 24-7, late in the half, the Bulls marched the ball down the field looking to cut into the lead before halftime. However, on a 2nd-and-goal play, Northern Illinois came up with an interception in the endzone with just over a minute remaining. To compound the problem, the Huskies managed to drive 80 yards and score a touchdown right before the half.
Tyree Jackson competed over 20 passes for the fourth time in the last five games. The redshirt-freshman quarterback finished the day 25-of-41 for 203 yards, but did toss four interceptions. He connected with nine different receivers for the third straight game.
Sophomore linebacker Khalil Hodge had his fifth game with double-digit tackles, finishing with a game-high 11. Junior safety Tim Roberts had eight tackles and had his first career interception. Brandon Crawford had two of the Bulls' four tackles for loss in the game.
Buffalo had difficulty slowing the Huskies rush attack. NIU quarterback Anthony Maddie rushed for 125 yards and four touchdowns.
"We talked about that during the week. Their athleticism between the running back and wide receiver positions makes you nervous and with a quarterback that can add to it, it's tough," head coach Lance Leipold said. "This team is as good as any at the fly sweep."
It will be a quick turnaround for the Bulls as they will next host Akron on Thursday night at UB Stadium.