“Points off turnovers” sounds like a stat more suited for basketball, but it’s proven to be the Achilles’ heel of the UB Bulls’ 2009 season so far.
Saturday night’s 23-17 loss to Central Florida can be traced directly back to costly Buffalo turnovers.
After forcing a fumble of their own on the first drive of the third quarter, the Bulls gave the ball right back to the Golden Knights. This week it was junior running back Brandon Thermilus who couldn’t hang onto the ball.
The Golden Knights would scoop up the fumble and drive 73 yards to cut UB’s lead to three points, 17-14. Cue all of the valid “If the Bulls had James Starks” talk (UB rushed for only 86 yards in the game).
On the next possession for the Bulls, senior right tackle Andrew West was beat in the backfield by defensive end Jarvis Geathers, who not only sacked sophomore quarterback Zach Maynard, but forced him to cough up the ball as well.
As a result, Central Florida tied the game with a 44-yard field goal and didn’t let up.
After another field goal in the fourth quarter (to take a 20-17 lead), the Golden Knights defense really shook up UB’s offense.
On fourth-and-8 at the UCF 42-yard line with 2:51 to go, Maynard tried to connect with senior wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt. However, Roosevelt was at least triple-covered in the middle of the field and safety Derrick Hallman tipped the forced pass up to himself for a relatively easy interception.
The Bulls defense held the Golden Knights to a field goal on the ensuing drive and left the game in the hands of the offense with 1:22 remaining, down 23-17.
Maynard was sacked twice by Geathers, who was able to maneuver around West both times. Maynard fumbled on the last play to end the game. Not the strongest finish.
Central Florida scored 13 points in the second half. Each scoring drive was the result of a UB turnover. Last week, Pittsburgh turned four UB turnovers into 27 points.
The turnovers are something coach Turner Gill and co. are going to have to fix fast if the team expects to defend its Mid-American Conference title.
Lost in all of this was the incredible triple reverse option that resulted in senior tight end Jesse Rack’s second touchdown of the game. We’ll try to post a video of it once we find it, but if you forgot Roosevelt was once a standout quarterback at St. Joe’s here in Buffalo, you remember now.
Off the field, the 1958 Bulls, who infamously turned down an invitation to the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando were honored at halftime. It’s great to see this team continue to be recognized for their decision over half a century ago.
For those discouraged about UB’s 1-2 start, don’t fret. Conference play starts next week at Temple and only these games will count towards MAC championship standings.
Also, UB started last season with a 2-4 record — and we all know how that turned out.
Next week’s game at Temple starts at noon. Be sure to join us for a live game blog at WNYMedia.net.