Sunday, October 04, 2015

Sweet Victory 3: BG Beats Buffalo Recap

BG went into a blustery and windy Buffalo stadium on Saturday with a couple of challenges.  The first was to continue its success against the MAC East, and the second was to face tough elements in an unexpectedly early challenge.  To wit, the temp was 47 with 22 MPH winds and there were showers.

In response, BG put together a very solid game where they led comfortably for most of the game and then held off a furious late Bull rally to seal the win.  Road wins are always good and this win was a nice start for BG.  The yardage totals weren't huge but the offense was efficient and got some big plays and the defense played pretty well.  And when we needed it, we had #8.

UB won the toss and deferred, choosing to give the BG offense first shot.  The Falcons did what you would hope--which was to score--though it was a 4 minute, 11 play drive for 85 yards that featured a 37 yard completion to  Ryan Burbrink as well as a steady diet of Travis Greene and Donovan Wilson establishing the run.  BG faced only two short third downs before getting into the end zone to make it 7-0.

BG put the KO OB, and UB was able to put together a nice drive to get down to the BG 20.  What followed was the first example of the game's most important trend, which was BG's ability to stop UB in the red zone and for the Bulls to kick FGs or even (foreshadowing)  forcing them to kill time getting a score.

Anyway, BG got an incompletion on first down, hit Anthone Taylor for a 1 yard game and then tackled Weiser--the Bull's Sasquatch-like TE--short of the marker, forcing a FG.  By the way, that was a 5:00+ drive.

There were serious protection issues on the next drive, as Johnson was sacked on 2 of the first 4 plays from scrimmage.  Fortunately, BG has Travis Greene, who ripped off 14 yards and 15 yards on the plays after those sacks to turn them into first downs.  BG had a 4th and 4 from the UB 37, converted it, but then had an illegal block and another sack (10 yards) that left BG punting from the UB 47 and Davidson put it out at the 19.

We're in the second quarter now.  UB had a big play on first down that was negated by a holding call and then they went 3 and out and punted BG to the 26.  Here, the Falcons do what they do, hitting Lewis for 61 yards on the second play of the drive and then darting Johnson into the end zone for the 10 yard run to take a 14-3 lead.

Buffalo took the next kickoff and went on another nice drive, mixing running and passing until they were down at the BG 22.  Once again, though, things got tougher.  Licata threw an incomplete pass and then Taylor was stuffed for 2 yards and then another incomplete pass left UB on 4th and 8 from the BG 20 with 4 minutes left.  One of the things that our offense does do is put pressure on you to get points.  UB was going into the wind and they went for it but threw an incomplete pass and turned it over on downs.

There's 4:13 left and this is a moment of maximum opportunity for BG and danger for UB.  If BG scores it is 21-3 going into the half and things are going to be tough.  To emphasize the point, Johnson hit Lewis for 54 yards to the UB on the second play of the drive.  BG went to Coppet who gained 9 yards on three plays.  Then, from the UB 9 with about 2 left in the half, BG passed on a FG and went for it and UB got pressure on Johnson who threw inaccurately to Burbrink and UB had the stop that they really needed.

Now the shoe was on the other foot.  UB had the chance to seize halftime momentum and they went on a very effective drive, moving to the BG 13 without even facing 3rd down once.  Here, BG once again was able to get a stop, though, forcing two incompletions and a 2 yard completion on the next drive and UB this time went for the FG and made it 21-6 with :22 left.

BG actually took a run at scoring, getting 34 yards on 3 pass plays before Tyler Tate missed a 54 yard FG to end the half.

Buffalo is a deadly team in the 3rd Quarter, outscoring opponents this year 43-3.  In our blogswap, the UB guys said that Leipold is a real football coach who can make locker room adjustments.  UB took the kickoff and went on another long drive before facing a 3rd and 5 from the BG 22 before Licata threw for the end zone, only to be picked off by James Sanford in what was a huge play at the time and will eventually look huger or more huge.

BG went 3 and out and Buffalo drove again.  They converted a 3rd and 6 and a 3rd and 7 but then got to the 10 and once again fell completely flat, going incomplete on 3 straight plays.  I really thought they would go for it here, too, but they kicked the FG and made it 21-9.

At this point there were only about 2 minutes left in the 3Q.  BG completely switched up the kickoff return team but still ended up with a -4 yd return that had them starting on the 6.  They caught a huge break on an unsportsmanlike against UB, and BG went on a nice drive.  Coppet had a 36 yard run that got the ball deep in UB territory and another 12 yard run to get it to the 12 and then on 3rd down from the 7 BG ran Ronnie Moore on an option reverse to go up 28-9 with 14:54 left.

At this point, UB switched from being a third quarter team to a 4th quarter team.  At this point, it is a 3-score game but you certainly don't feel safe if you are BG.

Off a penalty on the KOR, UB started on their own 8.  They put together an effective drive, but BG's defense was keeping things in front of them and forcing them to use a lot of plays to get down the field...shades, in fact, or the 2013 defense.  They converted one 3rd and long and one 4th down.  With the ball on the BG 1, BG then launched a stand which kept Buffalo out of the end zone until 4th down.  Those last three plays probably burned 2 minutes off the clock (UB also used a timeout on the drive).

Nonetheless, it was now 28-16.

UB continued to try and make things easy for BG, as they committed a personal foul on the kickoff return and BG had the ball at its own 41.  Johnson hit Ronnie Moore for 20 yards on the first play.  At this point, the kill is there.  UB stiffened and facing a 4th and 9 from the UB 38, BG had Ryan Burbrink was open for the first down and he just dropped the ball.  No other word for it.  Guy has been a great player for us, he's a warrior, I love the way he plays and he's made 20 great plays for every play like this, but that's what happened.

UB took the ball over with 6:29 or eternity left in the game.  They went on a true 2-minute drill type thing, shredding the BG defense for a 7-play drive that covered 1:23 and ended up in the end zone to make it 28-22 (they missed the xp).

So stuff was real at that point.  There was still 5:06 left to play.  You had to have the feeling that if BG left UB get the ball back without a Falcon score, this one was not going to end well.  And...of course, you are built to be fast and this is one time you want to be slow.  (UB had 2 timeouts).

BG got a nice kickoff return to the 35, but backed up on a penalty to the 25.  

Enter Travis Greene.

Facing a 2nd and 11 (and the highest level of peril in the game), Greene ripped off a 10 yard run and then with 3:16 left Donovan Wilson converted the first down.  Buffalo called timeout #2 before the first down play.  On first down, Johnson rushed for nothing and with 3:07 left UB called their last time out.  On second down, Travis Greene ripped off a 29 yard run for a back breaking first down.  He then gained 11 yards on the next two carries while BG milked the play clock and then it was the victory formation.

So, yeah.  Falconfast killed the last 5 minutes of a game to salt a game away.

More to come...but it was a nice victory for our guys.  Yes, it was dicey at the end and the defense bent a lot but they made the plays when they needed to and the offense actually was highly efficient even though the gross yardage totals were not what we'd expect.  BG showed they can run and pass.  And the team is 1-0 in the MAC.  No complaints here.

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