By AARON MANSFIELD
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — AMHERST – The underachieving University at Buffalo football team would have had a hard enough time beating a Big East foe if the Bulls had every weapon in their holster. With the squad’s two most reliable offensive playmakers sidelined by injuries, the outcome was never in question.
The Bulls kept the score relatively close, but Big East bottom-feeder Pittsburgh was in command from start to finish and won 20-6 in the homecoming game at UB Stadium. Two junior standouts, running back Branden Oliver and wide receiver Alex Neutz (Grand Island High School), watched from the sidelines; they were held out as game-time decisions. In total, Buffalo (1-6, 0-3 Mid-American Conference) played without seven of its starters.
“I try to make sense of why we’re being tested the way we are right now,” said head coach Jeff Quinn. “I thought our kids competed, without a doubt. They’re being tested. We all are. We had our opportunities, had our chances, but we didn’t capitalize.”
As has been the case several times this year, the Bulls won the statistical battle but lost the game. Buffalo had 22 first downs to Pittsburgh’s (3-4, 0-3 Big East) 13. The Bulls had 334 yards of total offense to Pittsburgh’s 254.
Mental errors were the difference. A faulty snap thwarted a UB field goal attempt in the third quarter following an impressive 13-play drive. Junior quarterback Alex Zordich tossed a second-quarter interception, which resulted in a Pittsburgh touchdown. The Bulls had two late touchdowns negated by penalties.
“It’s frustrating,” Zordich said. “We’ve just got to keep working, keep grinding at it. We don’t quit, and that’s a good thing, but we want to win.”
With redshirt freshman Joe Licata waiting in the wings at second on the depth chart and the Bulls struggling to win (their only victory came against FCS team Morgan State on Sept. 8), some have called for a quarterback change.
Quinn is not considering it.
“Alex Zordich is our quarterback,” he said. “He’s the guy who inspires us and gives us our best chance.”
Freshman running back Devin Campbell (19 carries, 104 yards) and sophomore receiver John Dunmore (seven catches, 72 yards) filled in admirably, but they didn’t get any help. Campbell’s second 100-yard game marked the first time a freshman running back has surpassed the century mark twice in one year in UB’s modern Division I era.
UB’s only points came on two second-quarter field goals (27 and 41 yards, respectively) from sophomore Patrick Clarke. Pittsburgh senior quarterback Tino Sunseri, who has started since his sophomore season, didn’t do much statistically (9 for 17 for 128 yards), but he was efficient and didn’t make any mistakes.
Zordich, who has been inconsistent under center, ran well (19 carries for 94 yards) and propelled several impressive drives, but couldn’t get his team into the end zone. Zordich finished 23 for 41 for 165.
The Bulls have five games left on their schedule, three of which are home games against MAC opponents. They will host Toledo on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.