Eastern Michigan’s defense has proven to be stingy on third down but the University at Buffalo offense had little trouble converting on Saturday.
The Bulls went 7 of 13 on third down in their 42-14 win over the Eagles at UB Stadium, a mark that’s significant when you consider how well Eastern Michigan has played on third down of late.
In the last three games, the Eagles’ defense has allowed opponents to convert 23.3 percent of third downs and entering the game Eastern led in the Mid-American Conference at 31.1 percent, which ranked 27th nationally.
They allowed just one third-down conversion in 10 attempts against Penn State and against Rutgers the following week they held the Scarlet Knights to 1-for-8 on third down. The Bulls were 6 of 9 heading into the final quarter.
“They held Penn State to one first down on third down and same thing with Rutgers so it had our attention all week and I think our kids rose to the occasion,” Quinn said.
Quinn once again praised the front seven after the group registered three sacks and six tackles for a loss.
Defensive end Colby Way and nose guard Kristjan Sokoli each recorded a sack while linebacker Khalil Mack and nose guard Dalton Barksdale were credited for half a sack. Inside linebacker Blake Bean led the Bulls in tackles with seven, including one for a loss. Buffalo had five sacks in last week’s 41-12 win over Connecticut.
“We have guys coming off the edge who make it hard for the quarterback to get off the ball,” said Mack, who finished with four tackles.
The Bulls also held the Eagles to 147 yards rushing, which included a 75-yard touchdown run by Ryan Brumfield during garbage time with the reserves in the game.
“We knew coming in Eastern Michigan was going to run the ball, control the ball, move the chains and I thought we did a tremendous job of playing gap sound fundamental defense,” Quinn said. “Disengaging in blocks, pursuing the ball and making great plays and then they created some takeaways again and we were able to capitalize on those opportunities and our offense is feeding on it.”
Four players were ejected after receiving personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that wiped out a 67-yard touchdown reception by Eastern Michigan tight end Duwhan Alford.
The Bulls’ Okoye Houston, Tomarris Bell and Dwellie Striggles were disqualified as was wide receiver Dustin Creel.
“That’s not who we are and I’m disappointed in that it kind of cast a little bit of a dark cloud,” Quinn said. “I don’t want people to have a negative opinion of our players. We have addressed it with those individual players. It’s disappointing. It’s not who we are, it’s not what we’re about here at the University at Buffalo and we certainly know those kids regret their decision.”
Tailback Anthone Taylor missed his second game as he continues to serve a suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Quinn said earlier this week that Taylor’s suspension was “day-to-day” and was not indefinite.
Junior James Potts, who rushed seven times for seven yards, was the backup to Branden Oliver.
The announced crowd of 23,602 is the first time UB has drawn 20,000-plus in three consecutive games at home. The Bulls drew 24,013 in their home opener against Stony Brook and 20,092 last week against Connecticut. ... This is the first time UB has beaten Eastern Michigan in six tries. ... Witney Sherry recorded his first career interception with 13:02 left in the game.