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Buffalo Bulls vs. Northern Illinois Live-blog

Photo of Alex Neutz by Dave Marino

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

———-Final, 31-30 Northern Illinois———-

:14—Chazz Anderson engineered a comeback from a 31-10 deficit to bring the Bulls within a point—but Peter Fardon couldn’t seal the tie.  NIU recovers Fardon’s onside kick.  Personal foul on the Bulls’ Willie Moseley, and this one is in the books.  Great football drama, but it’s too bad that there’s such a prominent goat.

:14—Inexplicably, Peter Fardon misses the extra point.  It’s 31-30 Northern Illinois, and the referees are double-checking to make sure that Fardon missed the try.  The PAT sailed wide left, and it was not blocked.

:14—Touchdown, Buffalo!  Anderson hits Ed Young at the goal line and he dives across!  What tremendous resilience from the Bulls’ offense.

:18—Anderson tries a fade to Ed Young in the left corner of the end zone, but it’s a slight overthrow.  3rd and goal now with 18 ticks left.

:23—401 yards passing by Chazz today—that’s a record for UB in the Division I era.

:48—Anderson throws incomplete for Lee in the end zone.  A post pattern to Marcus Rivers over the middle advances the Bulls down to the 7 yard line!  First and goal with 32 ticks left on the clock.  Chazz takes the keeper down to the four yard line, and Quinn uses his last timeout.  Buffalo trails by a touchdown but the Bulls are pressing!

:55—Matt Ostrowski gets away with a pretty clear hold on the next play, and Anderson rushes around right end for six yards and gets to the sideline.  Buffalo’s at NIU’s 22—2nd and 3.

1:15 —An ugly progression of plays on this drive after it started so promisingly.  One back set, Anderson in the shotgun on fourth and 10.  Anderson connects with Neutz over the middle for a first down despite great coverage from Melvin!  What a catch!

1:15—Anderson throws a lame duck to the right sideline, and it’s now fourth down—Buffalo’s last chance.  NIU calls a timeout, its second of the half.

1:31—Neutz didn’t turn his head until well after Anderson released his pass, and the pass falls incomplete to the right sideline.  Rashaan Melvin on the coverage.  2nd and 10 from the NIU 44.  Incomplete to Oliver on a short crossing route. 

2:34—Slant pattern to Rivers is complete—Anderson threw a missile.  On the ensuing play, Anderson eluded the rush and escaped to the right sideline for an 18 yard gain and gets out of bounds to stop the clock.  Nine yards by Branden Oliver has Buffalo at NIU’s 46 with 1:42 left.

2:49—“Sure-handed” Devon Hughes fields the punt at the 11—he immediately called for the fair catch again.  Anderson has 89 yards to go to knot the score, but he’s looked sharp in the second half.  Can the Bulls do the improbable, reversing a three touchdown deficit?

3:27 —Colby Way wraps up Jasmin Hopkins for a three yard loss—NIU faces a 3rd and 12.  Harnish completes to Nathan Palmer, but Lee Skinner’s sure tackle along the right sideline only gains eight.  Neir will punt to Hughes, and Buffalo has a chance to tie the score!

4:14 —355 yards passing for Chazz Anderson is a career-high.  Patrick Clarke’s kickoff goes out of bounds for the third time this year, and NIU begins at its 40.  This one’s not over yet!

4:14—Buffalo’s within a score!  Chazz Anderson throws a beauty to Marcus Rivers from 15 yards out—the senior wideout from Lackawanna beat his defender by a step and latched on to a prettily thrown ball.  31-24 Huskies after Fardon’s extra point.

4:40—Double-move by Alex Neutz down the left sideline has him free for a second, but Jhony Faustin recovers just in time to bat the ball away.  Branden Oliver leaks out over the middle and Anderson hits him—Oliver bulls over a tackler for a new set of downs.

4:59—Buffalo nets 25 yards on the first play of the drive—a 10 yard pass to Neutz and a 15 yard roughing the passer penalty on Kyle Jenkins pushes UB to the NIU 29. 

5:07—Branden Oliver has eclipsed the 100 yard mark for the fifth time this season.  It’s taken him 26 carries to do so, but he’s looked powerful and assertive in hitting the holes that have been there. 

5:33—The clock continues ticking down—the Bulls are five minutes away from being 1-3 in the MAC.  Nice coverage by Cortney Lester on Perez Ashford stalls the drive, and Neir will punt to Hughes again.  31-17 NIU late in the 4th.  Devon Hughes makes a fair catch at the UB 45, even though he had ample room to run.  Buffalo’s special teams is not taking any unnecessary chances.

6:38—Anderson misdiagnoses the coverage and fires a pass into the arms of Rashaan Melvin, in all likelihood ending Buffalo’s hopes of a shocking victory.  The pass was intended for Marcus Rivers, but the receiver wasn’t at fault by any means. 

7:49—Good play call by Jeff Quinn—Chazz Anderson took the QB draw up the middle for an eight yard gain on 4th and 2.  Anderson throws with his right running to the left sideline, hooking up with Neutz for six.  A two yard loss on a throw to Ed Young—maddeningly horizontal again—ends up in a 3rd and 6 from the NIU 23. 

8:30—Jamaal Bass stuffs Oliver in the backfield, and it’s 4th and a very long 1.  30 second timeout for the Bulls, as this could be UB’s last opportunity for a serious comeback.

10:37—A short run by Oliver and a quick swing pass to Fred Lee moves the chains again for Buffalo—first and 10 at NIU’s 48.  Branden Oliver cuts and accelerates through a defender’s arm tackle to the Husky 36—an eight yard run on first down.  Oliver eludes the first wave of tacklers on second down, but he’s stuck by Nabal Jefferson—3rd and 1.

10:37—42 yard punt—aided by a 10 yard roll—starts UB at its own 46.  Can Chazz Anderson orchestrate another scoring drive in UB’s comeback attempt?

10:58—Harnish is ruled short—a very unfavorable spot for the Huskies—and Ryan Neir is on to punt from the middle of his end zone to Devon Hughes, who stands at midfield. 

12:13—Trying to carve out a little breathing room, Hopkins darts up the middle—but gets nowhere.  Gordon Dubois almost chased Harnish down for a safety, but the red-shirt senior eluded the defender just in time.  3rd and 7 from the two yard line.  An incredible running effort for Harnish gives NIU a much needed first down, however, even though there’s an official measurement on the field.  What determination by NIU’s leader.

12:38—Tommy Lee Lewis fumbles the kickoff—twice—and Okoye Houston and Wonderful Monds II tackle him inside the 10 yard line.  There’s an illegal block in the back on NIU’s tight end Luke Eakes.  First and 10 for the Huskies from their two yard line.

12:38—The scoring pass puts Anderson over the 300 yard barrier for the afternoon, and while he’s made some excellent throws today, he hasn’t been a world-beater.  25-36 for 303 yards, one TD and one INT for the Cincinnati transfer.

12:38—On fourth and four from the NIU 5, Chazz Anderson fits a pass through a tight window to Alex Neutz, who’s well-covered but manages to haul in the pass.  5 yard TD from Anderson to Neutz!  Fardon’s PAT is good, and it’s 31-17 NIU now.

12:49—Buffalo’s bailed out by an NIU offsides—Anderson had tried a back shoulder throw to Rivers on the right sideline, and the pass was knocked away by Rashaan Melvin.  On the second chance on 3rd and 3, Anderson throws the ball out of the back of the end zone.

13:28 —Anderson hands to Oliver, who flips to Ed Young, who tosses a pass towards Marcus Rivers in the back of the end zone.  Demetrius Stone broke up the pass, as Young didn’t put enough mustard on the throw.  3rd and 8 from the NIU 10 now. 

14:10 —A short pass to Young again to the left and a Branden Oliver one yard loss sets up a 3rd and 5 from the NIU 21.  Anderson fires a bullet in to Alex Neutz—great adjustment by the burly wideout—and Buffalo has a new set of downs at NIU’s 11.

14:45—Chazz Anderson, hassled in the backfield by two rushers, awkwardly throws the ball with his off-hand to hit Ed Young on the left sideline to convert the fourth down.  Unreal!

15:00 —3rd and 4 from the NIU 44.  Incomplete pass—the throw was behind Devon Hughes—but there’s a flag down on the play.  Illegal motion on Hughes on the play, to add insult to injury.  The Bulls will go for it now—NIU takes a 30 second timeout to match Buffalo’s personnel. 

15:00—UB’s actually out-gained NIU today, 374 to 313, but the score certainly isn’t indicative of that statistic.  Buffalo’s four turnovers is the more telling statistic, as kick and punt returns have been an adventure to say the least. 

15:00—UB recognizes a former player that just turned 100 years old recently.  That’s really old, but kind of sweet. 

———End of 3rd Quarter, 31-10 Northern Illinois————

:14—Branden Oliver shuffles his way through tacklers on a screen pass, then slips before the first down marker on the turf.  3rd and 4 after a nine yard gain (Oliver had lost four yards on the play prior.)

1:21—Jamal Womble, a bowling ball built at 5’11, 246 pounds, gains three years on the read option.  Harnish overthrows Da’Ron Brown down the middle of the Buffalo defense—the receiver was open, but Chandler was just a touch off as he’s been all day.  Neir will punt, and Devon Hughes, after his successful fair catch last time, earns another chance.  He’s 2-for-2 on the day now, after he immediately fair catches again at midfield.

2:33—Harnish’s stats don’t look too promising, and if you were simply just speculating the score of the game on his 10-23 passing for 142 yards, you’d think Buffalo would be hanging around.  Jasmin Hopkins’ three touchdowns, however, as Buffalo in a 31-10 hole.

3:26—Personal foul on Fred Lee hurts Buffalo, but Branden Oliver darts through a hole for 12 yards.  3rd and 8 from the NIU 48—Anderson throws against his body on the run, and it leads to a miscommunication with Rivers.  Schum on to punt for the Bulls.

4:05—No signs of Zordich warming up for the Bulls—it will probably be Anderson for the rest of the afternoon.  A nice toss from Anderson down the right sideline to Neutz hits the Grand Island graduate in stride, earning 29 yards into NIU territory.  Oliver runs on the following play, and there’s a flag down.

4:18—Najja Johnson shadows Jamison Wells down the left sideline, and the pass trickles incomplete.  Ryan Neir will punt for Northern, and Devon Hughes makes the fair catch—more mock cheering from the stands when Hughes successfully snags the fair catch.  The UB fans do have a little sarcastic humor in them.

5:28—Harnish converts the first down with a pass to Perez Ashford.  Personal foul on Scott Wedige on the ensuing play, however, sends the Huskies back to their 29—2nd and 21.  Leighton Settle gains three yards to the 32—3rd and 18.

6:43 —The UB student fan section has petered down to almost 30 people.  Jordan Lynch takes over at quarterback for Harnish, and Akeem Daniels is in the backfield.  Lynch is a run-first quarterback, a sophomore with the potential to run the offense when Harnish graduates next year.  Harnish returns to the field for a third and 5.

6:43—Steven Means is walking slowly to the locker room with his helmet in his hands—a sign that his afternoon is probably over.  Northern Illinois takes over at its own 29, nursing a three touchdown lead, 31-10.

7:45—Oliver runs left for five yards—3rd and 2 from the Bulls’ 41.  Jordan Delegal pops Oliver at the first down marker and pushes him back—the punting unit comes on, and Jacob Schum will kick to Perez Ashford.

8:37—Branden Oliver chugs around left guard for a first down—gain of 12.  Wide receiver screen to Ed Young on first down nets three yards—Buffalo continues to attack the edges whenever possible, tentative to test the middle of the field.

8:49 —Paid attendance is 13,370, but the actual attendance is probably between 7 and 8 thousand.  Mock cheers erupt from the crowd when Jeffvon Gill catches the ball on the kick return, and he advances the ball to the Bulls’ 22.

10:19—Fantastic acceleration on the read option by Chandler Harnish—instead of handing to lumbering Cameron Bell to the left, Harnish exploded past the left tackle, all the way down to the Bulls’ five yard line.  Gain of 21 yards for Harnish, and two plays later, Jasmin Hopkins bounces in for a 1 yard TD run, his third score of the game.  31-10 Northern Illinois, as the Huskies capitalize off another special teams miscue.

11:17—3rd and 8 for the Huskies from their own 22.  Harnish fires for Brown over the middle, and the ball is tipped at the line of scrimmage by Fred Branch.  Cortney Lester is back to return the kickoff.  The result is no better for him, though, as he misjudges the punt and Northern Illinois recovers.  That’s the third time today Buffalo has fumbled a punt, and they’ve lost two of them.  Dominique Ware, a reserve cornerback, recovers for the Huskies.

11:17—Means sits up, drawing a round of applause from the players and fans.  Now he’s on his feet, and the clapping continues.  He’s walked off under his own power, and the Bulls’ defenders check on him as he walks gingerly to the sidelines.

11:17—Steven Means is down on the turf being attended to by a host of training staff members.  The injury looks fairly serious, and they’re examining his upper body as the defensive end lays on his back.

12:28—Anderson connects with Ed Young—who bobbles the ball briefly before reeling it in—and Buffalo nears midfield, facing a third and short.  On third and 1, Quinn opts for a fancy flea-flicker, but NIU strong safety Dechane Durante stays home and intercepts the deep ball for Rivers.  Quinn gambled and paid the price with a turnover.  First and 10 for Harnish from the NIU 20. 

13:51—Oliver squirms away from a tackler for six yards on first down.  Chazz Anderson completes an out to Marcus Rivers on the left sideline for a first down.  Efficient, conservative plays to start the drive. 

14:15—That’s the high-powered offense that averages well over 40 points per game, huh?  Colby Way returns the ensuing kickoff to the 30 yard line, where Anderson will start the Bulls’ first series of the second half.

14:15—Credit Ashford for winning that jump ball grab against Copeland—Buffalo never recovered after that.

14:15—39 yard pass from Harnish to Ashford and runs of 21 and 12 by Hopkins on the three play scoring drive.  Jeff Quinn’s defense was not ready to play out of the gate, and now the Bulls find themselves in a two touchdown hole.

14:15Jasmin Hopkins jaunts in from 12 yards and a score; he was untouched, and man, what a drive that was to open the second half.  24-10 Northern Illinois.

15:00—NIU starts the second half, Harnish opens at his own 28.  Dramatic start to the second half—Harnish lobs a jump ball between Josh Copeland of Buffalo and Perez Ashford of NIU, and Ashford rips the ball away.  From the 33, Jasmin Hopkins bursts to the right sideline for a 21 yard gain—two huge plays and NIU is rolling.

———Halftime, 17-10 Northern Illinois———

:04—Anderson swings a nice screen pass to Oliver over the middle, and there’s a brief burst of excitement from the fans before Oliver’s brought down harmlessly at the NIU 20.

:11—Ed Young sprints to the sideline on an out route, and the senior wide receiver picks up 17 on the pattern.  Ball is at NIU’s 45—Anderson rolls out and tries to connect with Young at the left sideline this time, but the NIU corner closed well to break up the play.  Four seconds remain, and Buffalo is well out of field goal range.

:28—Fred Lee lurks on the left sideline, uncovered, and Chazz Anderson picks him out for a first down catch-and-run.  24 seconds left in the first half, and Buffalo’s only at its own 36.  Anderson keeps it himself on the ensuing play, rushing for seven yards and getting out of bounds to stop the clock.  15 seconds left, but Gokhan Ozkan false starts, and it’s 1st and 15 from Buffalo’s 38 post-penalty.

:37—Queen City Sports’ Mike Straw draws the comparison between personnel usage between the two teams: UB’s used only three players on offense, while 11 Huskies have touched the ball.  Gill muffs the kick return, but manages to fall on it. 

:44 —Impressive drive by NIU continues as Harnish scrambles down to the six yard line, and there’s a 3rd and 2 now from the six yard line after an incompletion in the end zone. Chandler Harnish flies around right end and holds the football out over the pylon, and the referee signals touchdown!  17-10 NIU after Harnish caps off a rapid-fire drive that involved barely any huddling.  This live-blog can’t even keep pace with Harnish’s efficiency.

1:37 —Cortney Lester slithers around the block on a wide receiver screen to stop Martel Moore.  Hanging in the pocket on third down, Harnish fires to Moore over the middle for a first down—fine coverage on the play by Lester, but even better hands by Moore. 

2:42—Mack holds Harnish to a minimal gain with his feet on first down.  Quick toss to the right on second down to Martel Moore moves the chains, but Leighton Settle is beaten to the edge by Dalonte Wallace and Khalil Mack for a four yard loss. 

3:15—Tommy Lee Lewis, the Huskies’ kick returner, picks up a head of steam and busts the return to the NIU 41.  Harnish, quickly behind center, hands to big senior running back Cameron Bell for six yards.  On second down, Fred Branch flies in at the feet of Jasmin Hopkins, but he misses the tackle, and it’s a first down after Hopkins’ nine yard gain. 

3:21—Solid push at the point of attack by the Bulls’ o-line, and Chazz Anderson navigates his way to the left for a three yard touchdown run!  Buffalo responds in seven plays and 2:18—covering 69 yards—to tie the game at 10

3:42—Chazz Anderson whips a pass into Marcus Rivers on a crossing pattern to the NIU three yard line, and it’s 3rd and 1 for Quinn and co. 

4:35—Inside draw—a great play call—works to perfection, as Oliver burrows his way to the Husky 11—gain of 13.  Oliver’s definitely a more powerful back with the added weight from the offseason.  Outside linebacker Jamaal Bass takes down Anderson as he scrambled on first down.

4:51—On a harmless play to the right sideline, NIU defensive end Sean Progar drags down Anderson by the collar—a 15 yard personal foul penalty—unnecessary, especially on that play.  The penalty pushes Buffalo to the NIU 26, a fortuitous turn of events for the UB faithful.

5:39—Jeffvon Gill takes the kick return up the middle to the Bulls’ 31.  He’s been excellent filling in for the injured Jackson.  On the first play of the drive, Anderson hooks up with Neutz on a skinny post against Jhony Faustin for 27 yards.  Perfect pass downfield, an encouraging sign for Anderson.

5:45—Back to work for the Buffalo offense after the D couldn’t stop Northern Illinois at the goal-line.  Still only 10-3, the Bulls have done will to stymie a high-powered offense, but turnovers have plagued the offense and prevented them from putting NIU on its heels.

5:45Jasmin Hopkins finds space up the middle behind Scott Wedige for the one yard touchdown run on 4th and goal.  10-3 Northern Illinois after Sims tacks on the PAT.  18 play drive that took up over seven minutes for NIU’s offense—much more workmanlike than the typical big-play-oriented Husky offense.

5:57—On third and goal from the 8, Harnish broke contain and sprinted to the goal line, but Lee Skinner and Richie Smith prevented him from breaking the plane.  The Huskies will go for it on first and goal from inside the one yard line after the Buffalo timeout.  The game is still deadlocked at three.

6:33—Fooled by play-action, Isaac Baugh recovers just in time to disrupt Harnish’s pass in the end zone to Martel Moore—incomplete, and the pass was behind him. 

6:37—Coach Jeff Quinn gushed about freshman tight end Matt Weiser in the preseason, but the newcomer hasn’t been used at all this year.  You’d have to think he’d bring a welcome dimension to the offense, but we haven’t seen it yet. 

6:37—Northern Illinois calls timeout.  As the ESPN folks have noted, Doeren is very liberal with his personnel packages—we’ve seen nearly 10 players touch the ball on offense for his team.  Palmer, Wells, Brown, Hopkins, Daniels, Settle, Ashford, McAvoy and a few others that I’ve missed have all been used.

7:25—Another sideline pass to Leighton Settle gives NIU a first and goal from the six.  Harnish runs an option pitch to Hopkins, but Josh Copeland sniffs the play out and forces a two yard loss.  Second and goal from the UB 8.

8:15—Crafty call on fourth and 2 by NIU—Harnish drops back and tosses a pass to reserve fullback Pat McAvoy who’d sneaked out to the right sideline.  First down at the UB 20.  A seven yard rush up the middle by Harnish sets up a promising second down.

9:55 —Jamison Wells drags tacklers up the middle for seven yards.  A “jet” sweep as the ESPN regional commentators love to refer to it to Perez Ashford gains 10—Cortney Lester flipped the senior wide receiver on the tackle.  3rd and 3 from the UB 33, and Jasmin Hopkins struggles up the middle—he looks to be a solid two yards short of the first.  NIU’s offense stays on the field, a big play upcoming!

10:39—Six yard stop route converts the first down again, as Harnish hooks up with Jamison Wells on the left sideline.  Richie Smith bursts into the backfield, and he’s blatantly held by center Scott Wedige.  Big play by the senior, and it’s first and 20 from the NIU side of midfield now. 

11:33 —Jasmin Hopkins slips a Josh Copeland tackle on first down for a healthy six yards, but Richie Smith clogs the middle on second down and holds Hopkins for a one yard gain.  3rd and 3 again at the Bulls’ 46.

12:01—Seven yard run by Akeem Daniels to the right on second down makes it third and manageable, and a screen to Jasmin Hopkins on third down converts an easy first down.  Well-executed by Doeren’s club.

13:10—Harnish starts at his own 21 out of the pistol formation, and a hand-off left earns five yards.  The Wildcat play left with Harnish—an obvious designed run—results in a first down.  Credit the caravan of blockers to spring space for Chandler.  Lester does well on first down to go shoulder-to-shoulder with NIU receiver Da’Ron Brown, forcing an incompletion.

13:10—Credit Quinn for stretching the NIU defense with two shots to the end zone, but I’m not sure I would have called two consecutive plays to the end zone.  The Bulls maddeningly call plays short of the first down marker on third and long, and that results in a lot of field goal attempts.

13:58—Two deep balls by Anderson both fall incomplete—the first down throw to Rivers in the right corner bounced off his hands, and Rivers nearly spectacularly brought in the deflection.  A laser-beam to Neutz in the left corner of the end zone bounced off the receiver’s left hand.  Anderson hits Rivers down the seam for eight yards on third and 10, but it’s not enough.  38 yard attempt for Fardon, who line-drives it wide left of the goal posts.  The game remains tied at 3.

14:48—Alex Neutz did well to prevent an interception on first down, battling Jhony Faustin for the ball and winning the jump ball for five yards.  A screen pass to the right on second down is blocked well downfield by Gokhan Ozkan, and Branden Oliver slithers down to the NIU 29.  Gain of 17 yards, and Buffalo’s threatening again.

15:00—Chandler Harnish is only 1-9 for 30 yards through one quarter.  Chazz, on the other hand, went 7-9 for 83 yards.  He’ll start the second quarter at midfield.

15:00—Daily Chronicle’s Ryan Ward from Northern Illinois says a slow start is par for the course for the NIU offense, and when the unit picks up steam, it can rattle off points in a hurry.  Still, Buffalo’s defense did well to disrupt Harnish in the first quarter, sticking up hands in passing lanes and covering well downfield.  There’s been a little bit of luck, too.

—————End of 1st Quarter, 3-3————-

:17—Nice stop route by Marcus Rivers, and Anderson sticks it on his numbers for a first down.  1st and 10 at the Bulls’ 28.  Bo Oliver finds a hole in the A gap and explodes into space, dragging tacklers to midfield.  21 yard gain, and that’s the final play of the first quarter. 

:35—Wonderful Monds II is called for holding at the line of scrimmage on the punt—but since it’s 4th and 15, the Huskies will punt for the third time.  Shockingly, Ed Young muffs this punt too—but he manages to pounce on the loose ball.  Almost a third first quarter turnover by the home team.

:43—Illegal formation on NIU, and the Huskies will be forced to punt again, just five yards farther back.  Ed Young nervously makes the fair catch at the Bulls’ 37, but there’s another flag on the field. 

:53—Great anticipation by Bulls’ safety Josh Copeland, who stepped in front of Harnish’s bullet pass over the middle to Nathan Palmer—incomplete, and the Bulls’ defense stops NIU again.  Neir’s punt sails high, and Ed Young nearly botches it again.  Maybe I underestimated the loss of Terrell Jackson.

1:05 —Steven Means leaps and knocks down Harnish’s pass—the second bat-down of the afternoon.  The officials missed a hold on second down—Richie Smith’s jersey was blatantly grabbed—but Harnish’s pass falls incomplete over the middle.  3rd and 10 upcoming for the NIU offense from its own 26.

1:16—The 27 yard pass on third down by Anderson to Neutz was the key play on the Bulls’ scoring drive.  If I was looking for a critical angle, it’s that Jeff Quinn tests the edges of the NIU defense and never uses his tight end over the middle. 

1:45—Anderson hangs in the pocket and throws short to Marcus Rivers over the middle.  The senior wideout catches the ball, but he’s well shy of the first down marker.  Peter Fardon steps on to kick a 31 yarder, and his kick is true.  3-3 tie!

3:03—Bad hand-off between Anderson and Oliver puts the ball on the ground again, but Anderson is quick to pounce on the loose ball.  2nd and 15.  A toss sweep to Branden Oliver results in another loss, and it’s 3rd and 15.

3:38—Credit Alex Neutz for continuing his route after Chazz Anderson was rushed in the backfield.  The fifth year senior spun away from a rusher and tossed the ball to the other side of the field where Neutz hauled in the catch at the NIU 14.  Big conversion on 3rd and 6, and a fine job of extending the play by the Bulls’ mobile QB.

5:09 —Nice double-move by Marcus Rivers on an out pattern—gain of 21 on an accurate throw by Anderson.  1st and 10 at the NIU 45.  After a short run by Oliver on first down, Bo runs off left guard for three yards, setting up a 3rd and 6.

5:22 —Mourning Journey melodies ring in the background as Buffalo’s special teams is set to return Sims’ kickoff.  Gill and Murie will receive again.  Gill fights to the 34 yard line on a 26 yard return—he’s a lot tougher of a returner than Jackson but not quite as speedy.

5:22—The Bulls dodged a bullet with Palmer’s drop in the end zone.  An incredibly pretty pass by Harnish was right where it needed to be, but Palmer lost concentration. 

6:00—With no intention to throw, Harnish dashes to the right and is brought down by Khalil Mack for a loss.  On 3rd and 10 from 23, Harnish tosses another fade to Palmer in the left corner of the end zone, but the ball slips through the receiver’s fingertips.  Fourth down—Mathew Sims boots the 40 yard field goal through the uprights, however, and it’s 3-0 Northern Illinois.

7:04—Chandler Harnish releases a pretty fade to the right side of the field—Nathan Palmer adjusts to the ball beautifully and reels in the pass.  First and 10 for NIU from the Bulls’ 23.  33 yard gain by the senior wideout.

7:15—Four yards by Perez Ashford on another wide receiver handoff.  Jaleel Verser has been everywhere this afternoon, batting down a Chandler Harnish screen pass with his unreal 6’6 frame.  3rd and 6 upcoming.  The ruling on the field is an incomplete pass, but the officials are trying to determine if the ball was thrown backwards or forward in reference to the line of scrimmage—the issue is to debate the spot of the football on third down.

7:27—Another turnover by the Bulls—Branden Oliver coughed the ball up at the tail end of his run, and sophomore Jimmie Ward swooped in to force the fumble.  Nabal Jefferson recovers the football, and UB’s second turnover brings an unfortunate conclusion to a promising drive.

7:32—Illegal substitution on the Bulls sets them back to the NIU 44.  Fred Lee has taken Terrell Jackson’s place in the slot.  2nd and 15 for Anderson and the Bulls.

8:36—Oliver looks sharp today, and it’s a nice sign that he’s being used in the passing game.  Junior defensive lineman Rashad Jean is in the backfield as a block fullback, but he can’t spring Chazz Anderson on the keeper.  On 3rd and 3, Bo Oliver squirts through a hole and dives forward past the marker.  Buffalo first down!  Ball at NIU’s 39.

9:54—Jason Meehan stuffs Oliver for a three yard loss on first down, but Anderson’s second down swing pass to Oliver nets six yards.  3rd and 6 from the Bulls’ 41.  Fine one-handed catch on the screen by Oliver in a four wide receiver set—Oliver reeled the ball in and exploded through tacklers for a first down to midfield. 

11:07—Colby Way did block the field goal—he did get a piece of the ball, causing it to flutter well short of the goal posts.  Seven yard run on first down by Bo, as he finally wriggles through space for a sizable gain.  Six more yards up the middle on second down has the Bulls with the game’s first first down. 

11:07—UB blocks Northern Illinois’ field goal attempt, and Buffalo takes over at its own 24!  Great stand by the Bulls’ defense after a costly special teams error.  Cortney Lester and Colby Way are being argued as the two potential field goal blockers in the press box, but no one is quite sure.

11:16—With pressure in the backfield from Steven Means, Harnish is forced to release the ball quickly to the sideline.  Incomplete—the tight end was his intended target.  On 3rd and 13, Harnish tries a fade to Martel Moore in the back left corner of the end zone, but Moore curtailed his route, and the red-shirt senior overthrew him badly.  A miscommunication.

11:53—Ed Young muffs Ryan Neir’s punt, and Akeem Daniels of NIU recovers at the Bulls’ 22.  Buffalo’s defense gets back on the field quickly after the turnover.  Verser chases down Hopkins—who strangely falls down without being touched.  2nd and 13.

13:09—Harnish pitches to Jasmin Hopkins on first down, and Jaleel Verser diagnoses the play nicely and stops the senior for a two yard loss.  End around to Perez Ashford returns NIU to the original line of scrimmage.  On third down, Harnish fires a pass into coverage towards Ashford, but Cortney Lester swats the ball away.  Fourth down—nice stand by the Bulls.

13:15 —NIU’s young defense, returning only two of 11 starters from a year ago, was solid on its first series.  Pat Schiller, the unit’s middle linebacker, is the leader, while safety Jimmie Ward has come along nicely in his sophomore year.

13:15 —Fine special teams play by the Bulls—Jacob Schum’s punt hung in the air long enough for tight end Alex Dennison to beat his man downfield and saddle Perez Ashford for a two yard loss on the punt return.  Northern Illinois starts at its own 40.  We’ll see Chandler Harnish for the first time today.

14:00—On play-action, Anderson drops back and flings a pass for Neutz—the throw sails a bit long, and Neutz can only reach out his right arm in desperation before the pass falls incomplete.  Anderson checks down to Oliver on 3rd and 21—it’s nowhere close to a first down, and Schum’s on to punt. 

14:18—Ed Young takes the end around to the left—he gains about six, but another illegal block in the back call on Branden Oliver sets the Bulls back once again.  2nd and 21 from the 10 yard line of the Bulls.

14:53—Jeffvon Gill takes the opening kickoff at the 10 and busts up to the 30.  An illegal block in the back on Buffalo forces them to backpedal to the 20 yard line.  A run up the middle on first down to Branden Oliver loses a yard—he was tripped up at the line of scrimmage.

15:00—With Terrell Jackson out for the season with a serious neck injury, Brandon Murie and Jeffvon Gill are back to return the opening kickoff.  Best wishes from Buffalo.com in Jackson’s recovery.

15:00—UB wins the toss and elects to receive—the wind really isn’t a factor today, so deferring wouldn’t have been an especially smart decision.

15:00 —Scouts from the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins are in attendance today, likely to do their due diligence on Chandler Harnish and Khalil Mack.

15:00—As expected, there’s a relatively poor student turn-out after last week’s loss and the 2-5 overall record.  A winning product will certainly bolster student attendance, but it seems like the problems lie a little deeper as well.  Come on, UB faithful, support your school! 

15:00 —Northern Illinois, under first year head coach Dave Doeren, a former defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, enters the field with its white uniforms, black pants, black helmets with red numbers and trim.  Buffalo dons its home royal blue jerseys.  NIU “Huskies” banners are sprinted across the field by the color guard.  Rather dramatic for a road team, but it doesn’t come close to the Ohio Bobcats marching band.

Pre-game—UB’s Branden Oliver has markedly improved his statistics from his freshman to sophomore seasons, but we still get the feeling that he hasn’t peaked yet.  He has the build, the power and the work ethic to be the MAC’s best runner, but consistency remains an issue for both him and the offensive line.  Jasen Carlson replaces Dillon Guy in the lineup at left guard—perhaps this will open a few more holes in the middle.

Pre-game —A red-shirt senior, Harnish leads the Huskies in passing and rushing—totaling 19 touchdowns between the two categories (12 passing, seven rushing).  A solid corps of receivers including Martel Moore, Perez Ashford and Nathan Palmer keeps defenses from keying in on one particular target, and Harnish spreads the ball around magnificently.  Northern Illinois has scored 40 or more points in every game this year—a frightening statistic for a struggling Bulls’ defense. 

Pre-game—Coming off a 34-0 drubbing against the Temple Owls, Buffalo has regrouped—kept the depth chart largely the same—and faces the MAC’s top dual threat quarterback Chandler Harnish today.

Pre-game—A pleasant fall day at UB Stadium greets the University at Buffalo Bulls and Northern Illinois Huskies in a MAC match-up.

TAGGED: branden oliver, jeff quinn, mac football, northern illinois huskies, university at buffalo bulls

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