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Buffalo Routs Ohio, 30-3

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After a dominant defensive performance and a number of questionable calls by the officiating crew, the Ohio Bobcats fell to the Buffalo Bulls 30-3 on Tuesday, putting any chances of a Mid-American Conference Championship berth on life support.

The Bobcat offense was nonexistent in the first half, gaining just 129 yards of total offense and ending nearly every drive with a Grant Venham punt attempt. Buffalo’s Khalil Mack forced a Bobcat fumble in the first half and was an integral piece to the Bulls’ defensive success.

“We didn’t establish our run game, our passing game was flushed out, and I’m sure [Mack] was a factor,” head coach Frank Solich said. “He popped up enough in this game to know that he’s just continuing to play great football.”

To put it in perspective, Venham recorded 230 punting yards in the first half, outgaining the offense by just over 100 yards. But, even with the tremendous struggles to move the ball, Ohio trailed only 7-3 going into the locker room.

The Bobcats looked to improve their fortunes, starting the second half with possession, but all would go from bad to worse in a hurry.

As quarterback Tyler Tettleton dropped back to throw, he attempted to escape from pressure and ultimately backpedaled inside the Ohio 10-yard line. Tettleton threw the ball away while standing on the 4-yard line, but a flag by the official called the quarterback for intentional grounding in the endzone and rewarded a safety to the Bulls. The play was not reviewable, so the play stood as called.

“You’re going to get calls throughout a game sometimes that just aren’t going to fit,” Solich said. “I haven’t seen the call, but obviously there’s some question.

“The momentum was changing there and that’s tough,” Solich added. “We never really got it back.”

From there, Buffalo captured all momentum, scoring on the possession immediately after thanks to tough runs by running back Branden Oliver. Oliver recorded his best night of the season on the ground, as he rushed for 249 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries for the Bulls. The back outgained the entire Ohio offense by himself, as the Bobcats finished with just 233 total yards.

“[Oliver is] a top running back,” Solich said. “He’s low to the ground and has great balance, but he’ll make you miss. If you don’t make clean tackles on him he’s going to get big yards and he did that tonight.”

Ohio displayed flashbacks to its matchups with the Central Michigan Chippewas and the Eastern Michigan Eagles, where opposing backs feasted on the Bobcat defense. Oliver is the second opposing rusher to gain over 200 yards against the Bobcats this season.

The Bobcats fell, but now also face injuries with a few key pieces. Cornerback Devin Bass is said to have a hip pointer and there is no word on the severity of the injury to this point. Wide receiver Donte Foster suffered a lower back injury that will be assessed later on as well.

With the loss, Ohio moves to 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the MAC, likely ending a chance of playing in the conference title in Detroit in early December. The Bobcats would need to win their remaining conference games and hope that the Bulls lose every one of theirs to secure a berth.

“The loss is tough and the timing of it is tough,” Solich said. “Both teams knew what was on the line, so that makes it a little tougher.”

However, with six wins already, the Bobcats remain bowl eligible and a win against the Bowling Green Falcons next Tuesday night would boost Ohio’s stock in earning a spot in a bowl contest.

The Bobcats travel to Bowling Green to take on the Falcons on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in their fourth night game of the season. The Falcons are coming off of a convincing 45-3 win against the Miami RedHawks.