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Allison's TD run, Zervos' XP give Bobcats 21-20 OT win

Missed kicks bite Bulls

AMHERST, N.Y. – After missing a 52-yard field goal in the fourth quarter by the slimmest of margins, Louis Zervos gave Ohio a 21-20 walk-off overtime win over Buffalo with a simple extra point Saturday at UB Stadium.

O’Shaan Allison’s 5-yard touchdown run tied the game at 20 after the Bulls began the extra period by scoring on Kyle Vantrease’s 3-yard run. But freshman kicker Jackson Baltar, who also missed a pair of field goals in the game, was wide on the extra point, giving Ohio the chance to win with a touchdown and successful point-after.

"You don't have things happen the way they did for us in the first four ball games, and come play a tough football team and play the way we did to pull it out without having it be with a special group of guys," Ohio coach Frank Solich said.

With the game tied at 14 in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats (2-3, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) got close to field goal range on a Nathan Rourke 29-yard run, but a holding penalty and a sack put them back into their own territory. Rourke got 16 yards back on a third-down completion to Cam Odom, leaving it at fourth-and-8 at the Buffalo 35.

Zervos’s field goal try into the wind came down on the cross bar, bounced high in the air and came back down just in front of where it landed, leaving the game tied with 6:41 remaining.

Buffalo (2-4, 0-2 MAC) then had a chance to win it. A favorable spot on a Vantrease quarterback sneak gave the Bulls a first down by inches at the Ohio 38-yard line.

A couple of plays later, Vantrease’s 7-yard pass to Kevin Marks on third-and-8 came up a yard shy of another first down, and Buffalo lined up to go for it. Vantrease got Ohio’s Marcus Coleman to jump offsides just as the play clock was about to expire, but Bulls coach Lance Leipold had called timeout just before.

So instead of a first down for Buffalo, Baltar came out to try a 46-yard field goal, which went just wide right with 1:22 remaining. Ohio ended up punting, and Buffalo knelt out the remaining few seconds to send the game to overtime.

Ohio won the coin toss and had a chance to limit Buffalo to another field goal try, but the Bulls converted a third-and-6 on a Kevin Marks 10-yard run. Vantrease scored untouched on a quarterback option keeper on a third-and-2 play after that, but Baltar missed badly on the extra point.

From there, it was all Allison for Ohio until Zervos’ game-winning extra point. He had runs of 6, 5, 8 and 1 yards, leaving the Bobcats with a third-and-1 from the Buffalo 5. He scored easily on that play, and the kick that followed was perfect, giving the Bobcats their first win at Buffalo in 10 years.

After missing the last game with an injury, Allison was a workhorse Saturday with 27 carries for 96 yards. Julian Ross remained out, but De'montre Tuggle returned but had only three carries.

“He was a warrior today,” Rourke said of Allison.

Baltar missed a 24-yard field goal on the game’s opening possession, shanking it wide left from the right hashmark. That came after Jared Patterson’s 61-yard reception down the right sideline gave Buffalo first-and-goal from the Ohio 10.

The Bulls did take the lead on their second possession, with a long drive that concluded with Vantrease’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Domini Johnson on a fourth-and-3 play with 12:30 to go in the first half.

Ohio then faced a similar scenario on its next possession, but it came up empty with a fourth-and-goal incompletion. The Bulls then turned it over on downs at the Ohio 40-yard-line 20 seconds before halftime.

The Bobcats finally got on the board on the opening drive of the second half. Rourke had completions of 14 yards to Isiah Cox and 20 yards to Ryan Luehrman, and Cox gained 15 more yards on a wide receiver reverse to help set up a Rourke 5-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 7.

An Eric Popp hit on Vantrease forced a fumble, recovered by Javon Hagan, to stop Buffalo’s next drive at the Ohio 25, but the Bobcats returned the favor on a Rourke interception by Kadofi Wright at the Buffalo 9-yard line.

A second Rourke turnover set up Buffalo’s go-ahead score early in the fourth quarter. Rourke coughed up the ball while being sacked by Malcolm Koonce. Taylor Riggins recovered at the Bobcats 34-yard line, and on the next play, Vantrease connected with Antonio Nunn for a touchdown to make it 14-7 with 14:47 to go.

Ohio had to punt on the ensuing possession but pinned Buffalo at its own 10 and then got a three-and-out to gain possession near midfield. Shane Hooks broke a tackle and went 34 yards down the sideline on the first play, putting the Bobcats in business, and they cashed in with Allison’s first career touchdown run, a 1-yarder that tied the game at 14 with 10:39 remaining.

The Bulls went three-and-out again, leading up the Bobcats possession that ended on Zervos’ long miss.

Rourke ended the game 12 of 19 passing for 155 yards and ran 16 times for 63 yards. He was sacked four times. No one for Ohio had more than two catches or more than 34 yards receiving.

Buffalo’s strong rushing attack was held in check with 183 yards on 43 carries, led by Kevin Marks with 112 yards on 22 attempts. Jared Patterson was limited to 52 yards on 13 carries.

Filling in for injured starter Matt Myers, Vantrease, who also is Buffalo’s punter, went 16 of 23 passing for 197 yards. Nunn had four catches for 53 yards.

Safety Jaron Hampton had eight tackles, and Hagan had seven for Ohio. The Bulls' Tyrone Hill made 15 tackles, and Riggins had a pair of sacks.

The Bobcats return to Athens for homecoming against Northern Illinois at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Peden Stadium.

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