BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo football team gained bowl eligibility for just the third time in school history with a 31-24 win over Ohio on Friday afternoon at UB Stadium. The Bulls finished the regular season with a 6-6 record and will now wait to see if they are selected to play in a bowl game.
"Our guys have worked so hard," head coach Lance Leipold. "When you believe and you keep working hard and you go about it, sometimes it's tough to keep believing - but this group has. They love the game of football and that's important. There's a lot we ask these guys to do, so when you ask them to go out and do these things, I'm happy for them and our assistant coaches that we've gotten to this bowl eligibility."
On a blustery day at UB Stadium, the Bulls jumped out on the Bobcats early, scoring 24 points in the first quarter. In fact, Buffalo scored 14 points in less than four minutes to start the game. It started with a 31-yard touchdown pass from the familiar connection of Tyree Jackson to Anthony Johnson to give the Bulls a 7-0 lead.
After Ohio answered with a touchdown, the Bulls scored again when Jackson and found Johnson for a 54-yard touchdown strike to put the Bulls ahead 21-7. It was Johnson's 14th receiving touchdown, setting a new single-season school record.
Adam Mitcheson drilled a career-long 49-yard field goal on the last play of the first quarter to extend the Buffalo lead to 24-7. Ohio kicked a field goal, late in the half, to cut the Buffalo lead to 24-10 at the break.
Forced to play into a strong win in the third quarter, the Bulls' offense stalled, allowing the Bobcats to get back into the game. Ohio scored two third-quarter touchdowns to tie the game at 24.
With the Bulls' offense sputtering a bit, K.J. Osborn was the spark Buffalo needed. The sophomore punt returner took back an Ohio offering 39 yards to the 6-yard line, setting up an Emmanuel Reed 1-yard touchdown run to give the Bulls the lead for good, 31-24, with 8:10 left.
Ohio threatened late, driving down inside the Buffalo 10-yard line. However, Khalil Hodge sealed the victory with an interception in the end zone.
It was another double-digit tackle game for the Hodge who finished with 13 stops. He finished the regular season with 154 tackles – second most in school history for a single campaign. Only Craig Guest with 161 in 1995 had more.
Jackson finished 19-for-30 for 294 yards and two touchdowns. Once again, his favorite target was Johnson who had six grabs for 155 yards and two touchdowns in the game. Senior Kamathi Holsey, playing in his final game at UB Stadium, had five catches for 77 yards in the game.
The Bulls are bowl eligible for the third time in school history, joining the 2008 and 2013 teams. UB will have for wait for another week to see if it is selected to play in a bowl game. The Bulls have previously played in the 2009 International Bowl and the 2013 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.