College Football: Miami blitzed by Buffalo in MAC East showdown

If the Miami RedHawks want to successfully defend their Mid-American Conference championship, they’re going to have to come from behind – way behind.

Miami (1-1) fell into a MAC East Division standings hole on Tuesday with a decisive 42-10 loss at the University at Buffalo – the second-worst conference loss of Chuck Martin’s seven seasons as the RedHawks' coach.

The worst loss was 45-12 to Northern Illinois on Oct. 12, 2015.

“We haven’t gotten beat like this in a league game in a long, long time, and we deserved it,” Miami coach Chuck Martin said. "It’s how you react to it. We’ll see how we react to it. Right now, it’s showing up tomorrow and doing everything you can to beat (Ohio). That’s how you react.

“It’s how you react when you get sand kicked in your face. Yelling and screaming doesn’t change 42-10.”

Buffalo junior quarterback Kyle Vantrease set a career high with four touchdown passes to help the Bulls gain an edge in the conference standings with four games to play before the conference championship game.

The RedHawks, down to their fourth running back and backup quarterback in third-year sophomore A.J. Mayer, managed 258 yards of total offense while Buffalo was piling up 554 .

Mayer threw three touchdown passes with no interceptions after coming off the bench when starter Brett Gabbert was injured early in the second quarter of last Wednesday’s 38-31 win over Ball State, but he went 7-of-25 for 116 yards with one touchdown and one interception on Tuesday at Buffalo.

In a season limited by COVID-19 protocols to six games, five against division rivals, the loss makes more crucial each of the remaining games on Miami’s schedule. The RedHawks are scheduled to meet Ohio in the 2020 renewal of the “Battle of the Bricks” rivalry on Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Oxford.

Miami scored a late second-quarter touchdown to cut Buffalo’s halftime lead to 14-7. Fifth-year senior running back Zach Kahn gained three yards on fourth-and-2 from the Bulls 35 and, on the next play, fourth-year junior wide receiver Jalen Walker made an acrobatic catch of Mayer’s pass near the right pylon, touching his left foot down inbounds while lunging into the end zone for his second touchdown catch in two games.

Buffalo’s kickoff returner appeared to step out of the end zone with the ball on the ensuing before stepping back in for what officials ruled to be a touchback. The play could have been ruled a safety with Miami getting the ball with almost three minutes remaining, but it was neither reviewed or challenged Martin.

“I talked to the ref and he thought they really didn’t have good angles,” Martin said. “There was no indisputable evidence that he was out of the end zone.”

Buffalo scored two second-quarter touchdowns to take an early 14-0 lead. Junior running back Jaret Patterson capped a 14-play, 75-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run with 9:20 left before halftime. Senior safety Roy Baker logged the first career interception of Mayer, and 10 seconds later, Buffalo converted on the next play with junior quarterback Kyle Vantrease’s 78-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open redshirt-freshman wide receiver Trevor Wilson on a post pattern with 7:40 left in the half.

The Bulls opened the second half with an efficient nine-play, 81-yard drive that led to Patterson’s one-yard run and a 21-7 lead. Buffalo never faced a third down on the drive.

Vantrease broke the game open with a 25-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Zac Lefebrve with 5:22 left in the third quarter – the second of three Bulls' third-quarter touchdowns.

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