PHILADELPHIA, PA – Anthony Johnson took a pass over the middle from Tyree Jackson, fought through defenders and willed his way into the endzone for a 29-yard touchdown with 59 seconds left to lift the University at Buffalo football team to a 36-29 win over Temple at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.
A resilient Buffalo team, now 2-0 on the season, had an answer for every Temple threat. With the Bulls leading by eight, Temple was able to score and get the two-point conversion to tie the game, 22-22, early in the fourth quarter.
The Bulls immediately responded by driving 58 yards on eight plays and Jackson's 5-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Nunn put UB back on top, 29-22, with 7:43 left in the game. Temple answered right back with a 75-yard drive of its own to again tie the game at 29 with 4:53 remaining.
The Bulls' game-winning drive was a thing of beauty. Buffalo surgically sliced through the Temple defense and drove 81 yards on 10 plays for the final score. On three separate occasions, the Bulls were able to convert third-and-longs to keep the drive alive. Even the game-winning touchdown was on a third down and 10.
"That was a heck of a game," head coach Lance Leipold said. "Both teams played well and played hard. I'm really proud of our team for how we answered their punch and counter punch, so to speak. I'm proud of this group of guys."
Jackson threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Once again, he spread the ball around with touchdown passes to Nunn, Johnson and Charlie Jones.
Redshirt-freshman running back Kevin Marks had a breakout performance for the Bulls. Playing in just the second game of his career, Marks rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.
Cameron Lewis, who was wearing no. 41 in the game to honor the late Solomon Jackson, had two interceptions in the game. He became the first UB player to record two interception in a game since Okezie Alozie had two against Ohio in 2015.
The Bulls seemed in total control for much of the first half, leading 12-0, after a 33-yard TD pass from Jackson to Jones and a 22-yard touchdown run by Marks. However, Temple converted on a 39-yard Hail Mary pass, on the final play of the first half, to cut the Buffalo lead to 12-7 at the break. The Owls also scored on their first drive of the third quarter to take a 14-12 lead.
Sparked by Lewis' second interception of the game, the Bulls took a 19-14 lead on a one-yard touchdown plunge by Marks.
Buffalo extended its lead to 22-14 on a 46-yard field goal by Adam Mitcheson, late in the third quarter.
Johnson finished with six catches for 76 yards and the game-winning touchdown. The senior's performance was even more remarkable considering he was playing with a heavy heart. Just hours before to the game, Johnson learned his best friend, De'Mon Davis, was gunned down. There was question as to whether Johnson would be able to play, but he stepped up and not only played, but made one of the biggest plays of his career.
"Even though I had a heavy heart, I wanted to play for him and my teammates," Johnson said. "I just stuck through it and gave it my all."
The Bulls are 2-0 for the first time since the 1983 season. Buffalo will next face Eastern Michigan (2-0) next Saturday at UB Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 6:00 pm.