Joe Licata received his most meaningful playing time of the season Saturday as he replaced Alex Zordich late in the third quarter and engineered a touchdown drive in UB’s 25-20 loss to Toledo.
Licata went 5 of 11 for 68 yards and a TD but saw UB’s final chance snuffed when he fumbled the ball away at the Bulls 19 on a sack with 1:30 remaining. He came in for Zordich to run a second-and-10 play following a UB timeout late in the third quarter. Licata immediately completed passes of 7 yards to Cordero Dixon and 39 yards to Alex Neutz before finding Neutz in the end zone on third and goal from the 7.
Licata was just 2 of 7 the rest of the way as UB, despite being down less than a touchdown, relied more on the pass than the run.
“Alex was shook up a bit,” UB coach Jeff Quinn said in explaining the change. “It was kind of two-fold. One was Zordich was shook up and we felt that we needed to get Joe in there because (Zordich) wasn’t able to go. Zordich needed some time. Maybe he could have come in there but at that point we were moving on with Joe.”
Zordich ran the ball well again (11 carries, 74 yards) but continues to struggle as a passer. He was 5 of 16 for 118 yards with a 42-yard scoring pass to Devin Campbell, who was left uncovered coming out of the backfield.
If there’s a play he’d like to have back it came late in the first half with the Bulls at their own 39. Neutz outran two defenders on a deep route but Zordich overthrew him by a yard.
Zordich’s 36-yard run on the first play of the second quarter was a career best.
UB intercepted two passes, returned one of them for a touchdown and may no longer be last in the country in takeaways.
The Bulls got a big boost early when cornerback Cortney Lester picked off a Terrance Owens pass that tipped off Alonzo Russell and ran untouched 23 yards for UB’s first defensive touchdown of the season.
“The weather had a big factor in it,” Lester said. “The play was where we were rolling to the boundary side because we knew the quarterback liked to hit short passes. When the receiver dropped the ball I found my opportunity and took it to the house.”
“It was well overdue,” Quinn said. “I was pleased to see it. It was an opportunistic moment for Cortney Lester, and to be able to convert it not only as a turnover but for the score was a real lift for our team.”
Lester spent most of the last three quarters on the bench.
“He got shook up a bit in the game,” Quinn said.
“I’m good,” Lester said.
Steven Means saw his two blocked extra-point attempts off the foot of Toledo kicker Jeremiah Detmer as a small consolation.
“I shouldn’t have had two blocks because they shouldn’t have scored,” he said.
The only blemish against the special teams came when Patrick Clarke missed a 29-yard field goal attempt early in the second quarter.… Toledo middle linebacker Dan Molls was in on a game-high 14 tackles and returned a fumble for a touchdown. He entered the game as the nation’s leading tackler. … Bo Oliver finished with 101 yards in his first game back since suffering a knee sprain Sept. 19. He has 11 career 100-yard games, third on the UB list behind Anthony Swan (13) and James Starks (12).