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Ohio offense sparks in 2nd half of 20-10 win at Buffalo

Bobcats win despite just 41 first-half yards

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Ohio’s offense came to life in the second half, and the defense was stout as usual, allowing the Bobcats to pick up a qualify win against Buffalo on Tuesday night at UB Stadium.

The Bobcats (7-3, 4-2 Mid-American Conference) trailed 3-0 at halftime when they had just 41 yards. Ohio then put up 201 yards and 20 points after the break, scoring on all four of its possessions.

Sieh Bangura’s run for 25 yards on the second play of the second half got things rolling for Ohio. Afer an 11-yard completion to Miles Cross, Bangura ran for 14 yards. Tyler Walton kept the drive alive with 14 yards on third down, though the Bobcats ultimately settled for a 29-yard game-tying field goal from Gianni Spetic.

Buffalo’s Ron Cook fielded the ensuing kickoff at the 1-yard line and returned it just to the 6, and Ohio’s defense was able to get the ball back to the offense with a short field after a short punt into the wind was returned by Walton to the Bulls 38.

Walton was big again with a 17-yard catch, and Ohio finally cashed in on fourth-and-goal with a 2-yard touchdown run from Bangura, making it 10-3.

Buffalo (3-7, 3-3 MAC) responded with its biggest play of the night. Darrell Harding Jr. broke a tackle and picked up 52 yards on a pass from Cole Snyder, eventually leading to a CJ Ogbonna touchdown run that tied the game at 10 early in the fourth quarter.

O’Shaan Allison had a 29-yard run on the next drive and Walton a 16-yard catch to set up Spetic for a 25-yard field goal that put Ohio back in front for good, 13-10.

The game’s only turnover allowed the Bobcats to take command. Keye Thompson recovered a Snyder fumble with seven minutes left at the Buffalo 29. Bangura picked up a first down with a 10-yard gain on an option-pitch and then a little later found the end zone from 1 yard out to make it a 10-point game with just 1:55 to play.

A big struggle in the first half was a lack of possession for the Bobcats. They ran just 14 plays and possessed the ball for only 7:31, compared to the Bulls’ 22:29.

Despite that, all Buffalo had to show for it was an Alex McNulty 41-yard field goal with 6:24 to go in the second quarter. The Bulls’ first drive ended on a fourth-and-1 stop with a big tackle from Rodney Mathews at the Ohio 14. They also ended the second half with McNulty missing from 55 yards out after a Kobi Gorman sack.

Despite the slow start, Bangura finished with 78 yards on 17 carries, while Allison had 42 yards on just four attempts.

On a windy night, Kurtis Rourke was 14-of-21 passing for 121 yards. Walton caught six passes for 62 yards. Cross had five catches for 44 yards.

Snyder was 14-of-21 passing for 171 yards, while run-first quarterback Ogbonna had 12 carries for 47 yards. Ron Cook carried 16 times for 48 yards, and Boobie Curry made four receptions for 66 yards.

As has been the case most of the season, running against Ohio’s defense was a challenge. Buffalo had 114 yards and averaged 2.8 yards per attempt.

Thompson had 13 tackles, including three for loss, while Bryce Houston finished with 12 tackles.

With the loss, the Bulls were all but eliminated from East Division contention, falling two losses back of division-leading Miami (4-1 MAC), though they have a game to play still against the RedHawks. Ohio likely needs Miami to suffer a pair of losses down the stretch while winning out.

Ohio plays its final home game when it hosts Central Michigan at 7 p.m. next Wednesday at Peden Stadium on ESPN2 or ESPNU.

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