BUFFALO, N.Y. — Back in the win column by the narrowest of margins.
The Ohio football team ended its three-game skid on Saturday afternoon in the Empire State, as Bobcats opened Mid-American Conference play with a 21-20 overtime victory over host Buffalo.
Ohio (2-3, 1-0 MAC) — winning in UB Stadium for the first time since 2009 — was scoreless after just three offensive drives in the first half, punting, losing possession on downs and having time run out.
Buffalo (2-4, 0-2) — which began conference play with a loss to Miami — missed a field goal on its first possession of the game. The Bulls broke the scoreless tie on their second offensive try, however, with Kyle Vantrease tossing a four-yard touchdown pass to Domini Johnson at the end of a 90-yard, 15-play drive. Jackson Baltar made his first of two point-after kicks and the hosts led 7-0 at halftime.
The Bobcats offense broke through on the first possession of the second half, with Nathan Rourke’s five-yard touchdown run as the eighth play of the 78-yard drive. Louie Zervos made his first of three extra-point kicks to tie the score at 7-7 with 10:44 left in the third.
The hosts regained the lead on their first play of the fourth quarter, with Vantrease tossing a 34-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Nunn.
After a punt by each team, Ohio tied the game at 14 with a four-play, 48-yard drive, resulting in a one-yard touchdown run by O’Shaan Allison with 10:39 left in regulation.
Each team missed a field goal in the final 10 minutes, and UB got the ball first in overtime. It took the hosts five plays to get to the Ohio three, where Vantrease ran in for a 20-14 lead. The Bulls missed the point-after kick, however, leaving the door open for the Bobcats.
Ohio went to Allison for five consecutive carries in overtime, with the Bobcat freshman finding the end zone and tying the game at 20 from five yards out. Zervos then made the point-after kick to give the Green and White the 21-20 triumph.
The Bobcats claimed a 23-to-19 advantage in first downs in the win, despite being outgained by a 378-to-341 tally in total offense. The guests gained 186 of their yards on 47 carries, while UB ended with 181 yards over its 43 rushes.
Ohio committed two turnovers — one fumble and one interception — while punting three times. UB also punted three times, but only turned the ball over once . OU was penalized twice for 15 yards, while Buffalo was flagged four times for 30 yards.
Rourke — who carried the ball 16 times for a net gain of 63 yards and one touchdown in the win — completed 12-of-19 passes for 155 yards, while being sacked four times.
Allison had 96 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries to lead the guests on the ground. Isiah Cox had 33 total yards, combining two catches with one carry, while De’Montre Tuggle had 30 yards with three rushes and one reception.
Ryan Luehrman, Cameron Odom, Jerome Buckner and Ty Walton each had two catches in the win, gaining 30, 25, 18 and 12 yards respectively. Shane Hooks also added a 34-yard reception for the Green and White.
The Bobcat defense was led by Jarren Hampton with eight tackles, followed by Javon Hagan with seven. Hagan also had a fumble recovery for the guests, with Eric Popp forcing the loose ball.
For Buffalo, Vantrease was 16-of-23 passing for 197 yards and two touchdowns, while carrying the ball six times for 19 yards and another score.
Kevin Marks led the hosts on the ground with 112 yards on 22 carries, and also caught two passes for 12 yards. Jare Patterson added 52 yards on 13 rushes, to go with one 61-yard reception. Nunn caught four passes for 53 yards and a touchdown in the setback, Carlton Todd added four grabs for 34 yards, while Ron Cook caught three passes for 33 yards.
Leading the UB defense, Tyrone Hill had 15 tackles, Taylor Riggins added two sacks and recovered a fumble, while Kadofi Wright intercepted a pass.
Ohio returns to Peden Stadium next, as the Bobcats host Northern Illinois at 3:30 on Saturday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.