FALCONS 31, BULLS 17: Jumping for joy

AMHERST, N.Y. – The BG football team hadn’t played a complete game in all facets in a while. The offense struggled in several games and the defense has had trouble all season stopping the run.

But on Saturday, the Falcons were able to put forth their greatest effort yet with a 31-17 victory over Buffalo at UB Stadium. The win was BG’s third in a row and improved its record to 7-4 (5-2).

Offensively, the Falcons had some of their best output of the season. Quarterback Tyler Sheehan was very accurate in the passing game, completing 20 of 29 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored a touchdown.

“We played great,” Sheehan said. “The [offensive] line did great all day. I had a ton of time back there. [Buffalo] made some adjustments and we handled it pretty well. I wouldn’t say it was our best game, but I thought we did real well on offense.”

His first touchdown throw came on a short pass to wideout Freddie Barnes, who got some great blocking and was able to cut up the left side of the field for a 44-yard score.

“[The touchdown] was just my chance to show everybody I had another gear,” Barnes said. “None of that would’ve worked if Marques [Parks] wouldn’t have made his block and the linemen gave me a little bit of space so I could do that so it was huge for everybody.”

The second was an 83-yard strike to receiver Chris Wright down the middle of the field. It was the longest completion of Sheehan’s short career.

Sheehan also recorded a touchdown catch on an end-around double-pass from the multi-talented Anthony Turner. The play was identical to a play which was run with success at Minnesota at the beginning of the season.

Turner was once again a force for the offense. He rushed for a team high 97 yards and a touchdown, threw the touchdown pass to Sheehan and caught four passes for 37 yards.

Barnes led all BG receivers with 113 yards and a score.

Defensively, the Falcons were in need of a statement game. Opposing running games had given them fits all season. But against Buffalo, they were able to tighten up and force stops.

UB running back James Starks had 137 yards and a TD on the ground, but many of those yards came on one 63-yard run.

BG held three additional Buffalo rushers to just 44 yards.

BG head coach Gregg Brandon was very pleased with the defense’s ability to get after Starks.

“Our rushing defense hasn’t been up to par, but today we stepped up,” Brandon said. “It was a great effort, all those kids.”

Buffalo quarterback Drew Willy has been one of the Mid-American Conference’s best this season, but the Falcons were able to keep him in check for most of the game. Willy finished with 19 completions for 210 yards and a score.

One of the stories of the game was BG’s ability to bring an effective pass rush at Willy. For the game, the defense recorded three sacks.

“I think that our coverage was solid today, other than a couple of deep throws,” Brandon said. “After [Willy’s] first look he was getting a little skittish in there and the pass rush kept coming. Sometimes the best pass defense is a great pass rush.”

“When we can cover like we did today and force people to hold the ball, we’ve got a chance to stop people,” he said.

While BG didn’t force a single turnover, they were able to stop the Bulls at several crucial points. After Buffalo scored in the third quarter to make the score 31-17, momentum seemed to be shifting. On fourth down at the BG three-yard line, freshman linebacker Glen Stanley was able to stop UB receiver Naam Roosevelt for a gain of a yard and a turnover on downs. BG was able to hold onto its own momentum for the rest of the game.

As a unit, the defense was credited with five tackles for a loss, three pass breakups and the three sacks. Stanley and safety P.J. Mahone led the team in tackles with eight a piece. Linebacker Erique Dozier’s seven tackles gave him the team lead over the injured John Haneline.