University at Buffalo senior tailback Branden Oliver missed Saturday’s 26-23 five overtime win over FCS Stony Brook with a knee injury.
UB coach Jeff Quinn said he “turned his knee” during warm ups prior to kickoff. Oliver, the team’s leader rushing coming into the game, injured the knee in the first half of last week’s game at Baylor and sat out the entire second half. Oliver, however, practiced all last week and was slated to start.
“Bo went out for pregame and felt like he kind of turned his knee and felt like he wasn’t 100 percent,” Quinn said. “The trainers came to me and said he wasn’t going to be ready to play and felt it was best to keep him out.”
Oliver, 521 yards shy of the school’s career rushing record held by former Niagara Falls standout James Starks, has 105 yards on 39 carries and one touchdown this season.
Sandwiched between Patrick Clarke’s 17-yard field goal in the first quarter and his 42-yarder in overtime were two misses in the second quarter and near the end of regulation.
Clarke, a junior who converted 11 of 15 field goals a year ago, missed a 41-yard attempt in the second quarter then went wide right a 34-yarder with 4:28 left in the game that would have given UB a 13-3 lead. Clarke, nevertheless, was able to redeem himself in the first overtime when he nailed a 42-yarder that tied the game at 13.
“I know that some of these guys aren’t totally excited about their performance and I know he wishes he had a couple of opportunities to put some of those in the uprights in regulation,” Quinn said. “But that was a big kick and we needed him to step up and made that kick in overtime.”
The shot heard ‘round Amherst came from senior strong safety Okoye Houston.
Stony Brook quarterback Lyle Negron was looking to his left and didn’t see Houston coming to his right. Houston buried Negron for a 5-yard loss and Stony Brook was forced to punt. Negron had to readjust his chin strap on the way to the sideline.
“Okoye has done a great job and has really stepped up his game,” Quinn said. “He was very active out there just like a lot of guys. I was real pleased with the way our defense really responded out there.”
Houston recorded more hits than Jay Z on Saturday, finishing with 14 – including five solos – a sack and two tackles for a loss totaling nine yards.
“He was flying around everywhere and he was playing with a lot of passion and emotion just like we all were,” said UB senior defensive end Colby Way. “He played a great game and made a lot of really big plays for the defense and helped us be as successful as we were.”
Senior linebacker Adam Redden (St. Francis) said the way Lou Tepper’s defense is structured, it allows Houston and others to roam freely.
“The drop safety, strong safety are me and Okoye Houston,” Redden said. “We just prepared for the game and then just make a play. Read your keys and then go to the ball.”
Redden had a game-high 17 stops with two tackles for a loss while linebacker Khalil Mack registered 10 with 1.5 tackles for a loss.
The announced attendance of 24,013 was the third largest in UB Stadium history.
“That was the best crowd I have ever seen here,” Quinn said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the way people came out to make it a great atmosphere and that is what we need to continue. I feel like we got a glimpse of what we can do here with the potential of people coming in and filling the stands. Being out there, there was a lot of energy that our kids could feel and that is what carried us.”
The 4-hour, 9-minute endurance test was the longest in school history. UB beat Akron in four overtimes in 2008. … Former Bulls cornerback Josh Thomas, now a starter for the Carolina Panthers, was in attendance. Thomas was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2011 and was later picked up on waivers by the Panthers. Carolina plays the Buffalo Bills today.