AMHERST — Continuing a multi-year, multi-foot trend, placekicking miscues contributed to another University at Buffalo football loss.
Freshman kicker Jackson Baltar missed a 24-yard field goal attempt on UB’s opening drive, a 46-yarder that would’ve put the Bulls ahead in the final minutes of regulation, and an extra-point try in overtime that ultimately proved to be the difference in a 21-20 loss to Ohio on Saturday at UB Stadium.
The narrow loss against the preseason Mid-American Conference favorites significantly depresses UB’s hopes to contend for a second straight East division title and return to a bowl game. The Bulls enter their bye week at 2-4 overall and 0-2 in MAC play.
Kyle Vantrease started in place of injured quarterback Matt Myers (neck) and completed 16 of 23 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored on an 3-yard run on UB’s overtime possession.
O’Shaan Allison ran in a 5-yard touchdown on Ohio’s first overtime possession, and Louis Zervos made his 86th straight point-after try to give the Bobcats the victory.
Malcolm Koonce’s strip sack on the first play of the fourth quarter set up Vantrease’s 34-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Nunn one play later that gave UB a 14-7 lead.
Ohio tied the score less than two minutes later, driving 48 yards on four plays ending with Allison’s 1-yard touchdown run. Allison finished with 96 yards.
UB opened up a 214-83 yardage edge in taking a 7-0 lead into halftime, but Ohio drove 78 yards on the opening series of the third quarter to tie the game on Nathan Rourke’s 5-yard quarterback keeper.
Bulls linebacker Kadofi Wright made his first career interception to thwart a threatening Bobcats drive that began with Vantrease’s fumble on an option run just outside the opposing red zone.
UB went ahead early in the second quarter when Vantrease escaped the pocket and found Dominic Johnson for a 4-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal.
It was the first career touchdown for the 6-foot-6 sophomore who was converted to wide receiver after competing with Vantrease and Myers for the starting quarterback spot during preseason. Johnson has also been a reserve forward for UB’s basketball team.
The Bulls preserved their 7-0 lead with a goal line stand late in the first half. Safety Joey Banks blitzed up the middle for 3-yard loss on third-and-goal from the 1 and Koonce pressured Rourke into a throwaway on fourth down.
UB squandered its first trip to the red zone when Baltar missed a 24-yard field goal attempt after Jaret Patterson turned a short pass into a 61-yard gain to the Ohio 10.
Vantrease started the game 10 of 10 passing for 115 yards and a touchdown before throwing three straight incompletions on UB’s third drive for a turnover on downs near midfield on the second to last play before halftime.
NOTES: All-MAC linebacker James Patterson missed his third straight game for UB due to an unspecified injury. … Wheatfield native Tristian Vandenberg made the trip as Ohio’s backup kicker and punter but did not see the field. … Zervos hit the crossbar on a 52-yard attempt that would’ve given Ohio the lead with 6:41 remaining.