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Subject: UB Bulls! Booyahz!

Writer: Frank Kim

Posting Date: 2008-12-06 04:52
Hit Number: 17154 / Recommend Number: 331
Hey, just in case you missed it UB Bulls (football) beat Ball State (#12 ranked team
in the country) 42-24! They won the MAC conference game and Coach Turner
Gill's first words out of his mouth was "I'd like thank my Lord Jesus Christ!

This is from WGRZ Channel 2:

Score by Score, UB Makes History
Posted By: Matt Pearl     1 hr ago

My first emotion after arriving in the press box at Friday's MAC Conference
Championship game? Concern.

I was concerned that the only pro scout that showed up was from the CFL's
Hamilton Tiger-Cats; the spots reserved for the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati
Bengals went unfilled.

I was concerned that, five minutes before gametime, the crowd at Ford Field
barely filled a quarter of the bottom bowl; it looked like Orchard Park vs. North
Tonawanda at the Ralph, not a Division I-A conference championship.

Mostly, I was concerned that I was about to watch one of the biggest games in UB football history ... and that very few others would be joining in.

But in many ways, this game - and this enormous victory - would be very much
for the die-hards. UB defeated 12th-ranked Ball State 42-24 for their first-ever
MAC title. And in their second-to-last game of the season, they displayed sign
after sign of how much they've grown in recent years. If you've been following
the team since the days of one-win seasons and no-focus programs, you
couldn't help but be impressed.

It seemed as if every touchdown was symbolic - Exhibits A through F of how the Bulls have progressed under the glorious reign of head coach Turner Gill. The
first score came late in the first quarter, on a beautiful fade route from senior
quarterback Drew Willy to junior wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt. Once a highly
prized quarterback at St. Joseph's High School, Roosevelt this year led the MAC
with nearly 100 receiving yards per game. He's also one of several examples of
a local high school product who now thrives for our biggest local college.

It's telling that UB's roster contains nine Western New Yorkers - seven of whom were recruited by the current regime. For a guy who has become a somewhat
national coaching sensation, Gill has proven particularly adept at mining the local
recruiting base and then developing those players into legitimate college talents.

Move to the second half: Ball State leading 10-7 and stopping the Bulls' opening drive just past midfield. But on 4th and 1, a Cardinal lineman jumped offsides and gave UB a fresh set of downs.

The play that followed was a unique - and terrific - call.

The Bulls started out with four wide receivers, then moved Roosevelt and Brett Hamlin into the backfield with Starks; Willy faked a pass to his right to Starks, then turned and dumped it to Roosevelt on his left. The misdirection worked;
Roosevelt had plenty of running room, and Hamlin gave the critical block for
Roosevelt to spring loose and take off for the end zone. On that play, Willy
became the first quarterback in Bulls history to pass for 3,000 yards in a season.

I arrived in Buffalo right around the time Willy did, and watching him progress
from hapless freshman to polished senior has been one of the most genuine
pleasures in 3+ years of covering sports here. He's the face of a team whose
overall growth is reflected in the growth of their individual stars - guys who have taken big steps, year after year, to get to their current level.

UB's next touchdown was even more unorthodox but every bit as essential. Ball State had already responded with one touchdown and was on the doorstep for
another when, on 3rd and goal, quarterback Nate Davis scrambled out of the
pocket and dove for the end zone.  That's when he got rocked in mid-air by
sophomore Josh Thomas. Davis fumbled; the ball bounced high off the Ford Field turf; and junior free safety Mike Newton grabbed it in stride and ran 92 yards the other way for the score - the longest fumble return in UB history.

It was a sign of a team that has learned how to create positive plays, stand tall
with momentum against them, and work with confidence despite their
underdog status.

And then they did it again.

Davis coughed up the ball a second time; sophomore Sherrod Lott picked it up
and scampered 74 yards. Make it UB 28, Ball State 17 - with the Bulls tying an
NCAA record with their second fumble return for a score.

Talk about another symbol of growth; how often has this team set national
records in the positive direction?

When Willy and Roosevelt connected on yet another touchdown strike, with
6:06 to go in the game, the symbolism was pretty obvious. The old UB - even
this year's UB, at times - could never finish off its opponents. This time, they
were closing the vice grip on the #12 team in the country.

And when James Starks barreled in for the game's final score, they pretty much
locked it shut.

In the end, the victory may have lacked the dramatics of some of UB's earlier
wins this season, but it didn't lack for impressiveness. And, of course, it
certainly didn't lack for history. The Bulls played with composure all game, took
advantage of their opponent's mistakes, and wound up with the school's
first-ever MAC Championship.

I can't help but think it's one of the last times - at least in the immediate
future - where we'll see such a moment. Next season will no doubt be one of
great change; the Bulls will lose a slew of the senior starters - including QB
Willy - whose growth has been so invaluable. They will likely lose their head
coach as well; Gill's name is on just about every short list for in-demand head
coaches this off-season.

So the success may, for now, be fleeting. But my hope is that the growth is
not. Gill and Co. have laid a tremendous foundation; above all, they have proven
that you can indeed build a winner on the college gridiron in Buffalo, New York.

And even if the stands weren't filled and the scouts weren't paying attention,
the UB players, coaches, and die-hard fans knew exactly what this victory meant. And their emotions? Not concern, but gratitude and satisfaction.

And major pride.

Dong Won Seo   2008-12-16 03:03:05
I heard about that game. Booyahz.

Happy Holidays to everyone!
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