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On his first pass as a collegian, Joe Licata completed a 28-yard touchdown strike to Alex Zordich to record a Madden-esque quarterback rating of 665.2.
"Should I retire now?" Licata joked.
Retirement may be a bit premature but the University at Buffalo redshirt freshman made quite a first impression in the Bulls 56-34 victory over Morgan State on Saturday at UB Stadium.
"It was like, 'Wow, this is cool,' " said Licata, the former Williamsville South quarterback. "It was a dream come true. I'm on the field in a Division I program in my backyard. There's nothing cooler than that. And to throw a touchdown in front of the home fans . my parents were there, my sisters were, my whole family was there. It's awesome. It was a great feeling."
One of Jeff Quinn's primary recruiting targets when he became coach, Licata entered the game with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter. After three consecutive carries by Branden Oliver, Licata went upstairs to Neutz in the end zone to pad the Bulls' lead to 49-20. Neutz set a UB FBS record and tied a school record with four touchdown receptions.
"It was a play action with three verticals called," Licata said. "We were thinking a deeper throw and I had been watching Alex Zordich throw the ball to Neutz a lot. It's not a bad game plan giving the ball to him. He's the man. He's a great player.
"I liked the matchup out there and I took it. I had faith in him, I didn't make a great throw, but Alex made me look very good."
It wasn't Neutz's first time catching one of Licata's passes. Licata has known the former Grand Island star since he was a sophomore at Williamsville South when they competed against each other when Neutz also played defensive back.
"He picked me off," Licata said. "He scored four touchdowns [Saturday] and he scored four touchdowns in the first half against us. We've known each other since that day and we played them in basketball. . It's a Western New York connection."
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Junior linebacker Khalil Mack returned to the lineup with bad intensions.
Mack, who missed the University at Buffalo's season opener at Georgia after serving a one-game suspension, finished the game with eight tackles - six solos - with 1.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss.
"There were some great plays behind the line of scrimmage from Khalil," UB coach Jeff Quinn said. "I thought our defensive line did some very good things from that standpoint, but Khalil is a tremendous football player and we're glad to have him back.''
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UB was penalized just three times in its loss last week at Georgia but it didn't take long for the flags to start flying Saturday in the home opener against Morgan State. The Bulls were hit 12 times for 117 yards in the first half alone and were flagged twice on their opening drive. An 8-yard run by Branden Oliver was called back after an illegal block by tight end Alex Dennison, which was followed by a false start by tight end Jimmy Gordon on the next play.
Sophomore tailback James Potts, a highly touted recruit two years ago from Florida, scored his first touchdown on a 49-yard run in the third quarter then appeared to injure his right knee or ankle as he was celebrating and had to be helped off the field.
Quinn didn't have an update on his status after the game and Potts will be re-evaluated today and Monday.
"He looked great on that touchdown run and I couldn't have been more excited for a young man to be able to take it to the house the way that he did," Quinn said. "It was just unfortunate that he twisted his ankle or knee and I need to get an update."
Wide receiver Fred Lee missed the game with an undisclosed injury but Quinn said he should be ready for Kent State.
"He got banged up in practice so we held him out," Quinn said. "He's fine, he wanted to go but we felt in this particular situation if you're not 100 percent it's not worth king the risk so we kept him out."
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The Bulls scored their first TD on Saturday out of the Wildcat formation on a 1-yard run by Oliver, who scored on a 2-yard run last week against Georgia.
Oliver rushed for 92 yards on 10 carries in the first quarter and had 145 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns by halftime and completed the evening with 238 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 25 carries.
Jimmy Gordon's 18-yard TD reception from Zordich in the first quarter was the first of Gordon's career. . UB is 4-2 in its last six home openers. . UB and Morgan State have met twice before when the Bulls were in the FCS. The Bears defeated the Bulls, 45-27, in 1992 and UB beat Morgan State, 35-17, in 1998.

email: rmckissic@buffnews.com