BUFFALO, NY – After a tough loss to the Wisconsin Badgers in week 1, the Bulls needed to regroup for their home opener against the Fordham Rams. Their defensive focus was to suppress Fordham’s destructive passing offense, and while it looked like an effective plan at first, the FCS Rams proved to be too strong as Buffalo lost a nail biter in their home opener by a score of 40-37.
Receiving the ball first, the Bulls hit the ground running. In their first drive, quarterback Cole Snyder looked strong, consistently hitting his receivers for quick gains. This efficiency culminated in running back Mike Washington punching in a 1-yard TD on the ground, putting the Bulls up quickly 7-0.
The Bulls defense started strong, holding Fordham to a three and out in their first possession. And following a blocked punt courtesy of Buffalo’s Jyaire Stevens, it was looking as if Fordham was going to have a long day. The timely special teams play put the Bulls immediately into scoring position, and on the first play, Snyder found wide receiver Marlyn Johnson in the end zone, putting the Bulls up 14-0.
Speaking of Marlyn Johnson, the Bulls utilized their tall receivers to their advantage, with touchdowns from Johnson and Darnell Harding Jr., both of whom stand six foot four. With the help of Ron Cook’s exceptional kick returning ability (86 Yds in first half) and Snyders accuracy, the Bulls were on top 21-3 early in the second quarter.
Though they were behind early, the Fordham Ram offense found their stride in the second quarter. Running back Julius Loughridge rushed for 106 yards in the first half, leading his team to more and more scoring opportunities. The Rams capitalized on these opportunities, and with the help of quarterback C.J. Montes and receiver Mekai Felton, Fordham found themselves trailing by only one point going into the half, at 21-20.
Starting off slowly, the third quarter seemed as if the game had seen all the action it was going to get. This quickly changed as Montes found RB Julius Loughridge in the end zone after recovering a fumbled punt by UB. As Fordham set up for the extra point, many Bulls fans started to lose hope. However, Caleb Offord must have felt their lowering spirits, and decided to block the extra point! Clevester Hines III picked up the football, returneing it 75 yards to close Fordham’s lead 26-23.
The block shifted momentum as Buffalo’s offense came alive once again with Cole Snyder continuing to hit targets with deadly accuracy. Sophomore RB Mike Washington joined in on the offensive outburst, storming in for his second touchdown of the day putting the Bulls up 30-26 late in the third.
The rest of the game saw back and forth action from both offenses, with Fordham’s Garret Cody and Buffalo’s Marlyn Johnson grabbing touchdowns in the fourth. The action continued late into the fourth, with Fordham’s MJ Wright catching a touchdown with just two and a half minutes left in the game. Although UB got a chance to try and score, their effort came up short, and after a missed 54-yard field goal by Alex McNulty, the Bulls fate was solidified, losing by a score of 40-37.
The Bulls still have a lot to figure out as they fall to 0-2. While their offense remains strong (ex. Cole Snyder 24-30 265 yds 3 TD), their defense has its fair share of flaws. Buffalo cannot let an FCS quarterback throw five touchdowns for over three hundred yards if they want to win games. It just can’t happen.
UB takes on Liberty University, Saturday, September 16th at 12:00 p.m. at UB Stadium. Will they be able to overcome their defensive struggles?