The University at Buffalo lost three starters — two on successive plays — during the Bulls’ 32-3 victory over Massachusetts on Saturday at UB Stadium.
Defensive end Colby Way was the first to go down with a knee injury early in the second quarter followed by left guard Jasen Carlson who will miss the rest of the season with a broken leg. Then wide receiver Alex Neutz (Grand Island) left with a concussion.
UB coach Jeff Quinn said Carlson will likely have surgery but he expects Neutz to return. He wasn’t certain about Way, however, and the senior will be evaluated today and Monday.
“I haven’t gotten the full medical report on him yet,” said Quinn about Way. “We’ll get Alex back.”
Carlson injured his leg with 11:54 left in the second quarter. Shortly after he went down, Carlson removed his helmet in obvious pain and was on the field for several minutes. The senior from Southwestern High School was fitted for an inflatable cast and carted off the field. Andre Davis moved to left guard while John Kling (Depew) shifted to Davis’ spot at left tackle.
On the next play, quarterback Joe Licata attempted a deep pass to Neutz who was hit by both safety Antoine Tharpe and corner Randall Jette. He was on the field for several minutes but walked off on his own.
“It didn’t look good to me,” Quinn said. “It looked like he got knocked out, out there in that one moment.”
Replays showed Tharpe could have been penalized for targeting, which results in an automatic ejection.
“It was hard to see but the officials didn’t see it that way,” Quinn said. “It was one of those moments in the game that you hold your breath for a second, we all did. He’s going to be fine and he’ll bounce back.”
Neutz was replaced by sophomore Ron Willoughby at wide receiver while Devin Campbell returned punts.
UB defensive coordinator Lou Tepper was chirping in Khalil Mack’s ear all week about UMass left tackle Anthony Dima, an Outland Trophy candidate, to the point where it agitated the senior linebacker. So Mack took out his frustration on Dima on one play.
Mack speed rushed Dima and pushed him aside like a 6-foot-7, 302-pound ragdoll. A heartbeat later, UMass quarterback A.J. Doyle was on the UB Stadium turf like a rug stain. NFL scouts from the Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders went nuts, then collected themselves and scribbled down notes in glee.
Dima was given fair warning and was informed by Mack, “I’m coming, so be ready.”
“I don’t think he was ready that play,” Mack said shaking his head.
“That one play showed you how I felt about being bugged all week,” Mack said.
It was one of three sacks for the Bulls defense against a UMass offensive line that yielded just four on the season. Nose guard Kristjan Sokoli finished with one and two hurries, while outside linebacker Adam Redden (St. Francis) and defensive end Beau Bachtelle were each credited with half a sack.
UB recorded its first safety in four seasons near the end of the third quarter.
UMass tailback Jamal Wilson was greeted in the end zone first by Redden and was finished off by strong safety Okoye Houston on the safety that gave the Bulls an 18-3 lead.
It was the first safety for UB since Sept. 5, 2009 when the Bulls registered a team safety at UTEP.
Junior Patrick Clarke connected on a career-high three field goals from 44, 36 and 27 yards.
Clarke was pretty much the Bulls offense in the first half when he kicked the 44-yarder for the first points of the game just 5 seconds into the second quarter and the 36-yard try with 48 seconds left in the half. He nailed the 27-yarder just minutes into the third quarter which gave the Bulls a 16-3 lead.
Clarke did, however, miss a 43-yard attempt late in the third quarter.
“You think about special teams how important their role is,” Quinn said. “It took us awhile to get on the board.”