Buffalo trio lays down law in rout of Morgan State

The SportsXchange

BUFFALO -- The offensive firm of Zordich, Neutz and Oliver has the potential to be quite profitable for Buffalo.

In arguably the most potent offensive display in the three-year Jeff Quinn era, Buffalo piled up 571 yards of offense in its 56-34 victory over Morgan State on Saturday at UB Stadium.

Alex Zordich, Alex Neutz and Branden Oliver all enjoyed career nights for Buffalo. Zordich, a junior quarterback, finished with a career-high 237 yards on 16-of-21 passing, four touchdowns and one interception. Meanwhile, Neutz, a junior, set a school record with 154 yards receiving and four touchdowns on eight receptions.

"Alex to Alex was the night tonight," Quinn said.

Not to be left out in the offensive onslaught was Oliver, who rushed for 238 yards and two touchdowns despite having two runs totaling 69 yards negated because of penalties. It was the most points scored by Buffalo since the Bulls defeated Central Connecticut State 60-21 in 1992.

This is the kind of offensive production Quinn envisioned from his spread offense when he took over the job from Turner Gill three seasons ago.

"It doesn't really matter how you go about doing it whether it's running the ball or throwing the ball," Quinn said. "It's about those big guys up front and I made it a priority to make sure our offensive line understands how important our goals are. ... I like where we are with our offense."

The Bulls (1-1) talked openly about winning the Mid-American Conference after an impressive showing at Georgia last week, and they carried that momentum into the home opener against a Football Championship Division school.

"That's what you work for, to find your own groove and I thought the whole team was in groove," Zordich said.

Morgan State, playing its first of four consecutive road games, also had a bit of energy coming into the game after downing Sacred Heart last week in four overtimes. The Bears (1-1) were better than anticipated offensively, but they couldn't muzzle the Bulls' offense, a unit that appears vastly improved from the inconsistent group of the last two seasons.

"They have the right personnel," Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley said. "Anytime you have receivers who win the one-on-ones, a quarterback who makes great decisions and a great tailback ... They were on all cylinders."

Zordich hooked up with Neutz five times in the first half for 79 yards, including two second-quarter touchdowns. Zordich, who opened the season as the starting quarterback for the first time in his career, was 10-for-10 for 158 yards and three TDs in the opening half.

"With Bo running the ball with efficiency, it opens up the passing game and gives us one-on-one coverage," Neutz said. "And Zordich was putting the ball on the money."

The Bulls scored their first touchdown out of the Wildcat formation on a 1-yard run by Oliver. The junior tailback scored on a 2-yard run last week against Georgia.

Oliver rushed for 92 yards on 10 carries in the first quarter and had 145 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns by halftime.

Morgan State senior tailback Travis Davidson rushed for 108 yards in the first half, including a 38-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Last week against Georgia, the Bulls allowed 227 yards rushing for an average of 5.8 yards a carry.

Morgan State's offense started to move with more efficiency when the Bears switched quarterbacks. Seth Higgins started the game and was just 1-for-2 for 4 yards and was sacked four times. Hill-Eley eventually lifted Higgins for Robert Council, who was 4-for-5 for 46 yards and 14 yards rushing before halftime.

Council also engineered the Bears' first touchdown drive, which culminated in Davidson's 38-yard run, cutting Buffalo's lead to 21-13.

Junior linebacker Khalil Mack, who missed Buffalo's season opener at Georgia while serving a one-game suspension, returned to the lineup and made an impact immediately with five tackles -- four solo -- and 1.5 sacks in the first quarter alone. He finished with eight tackles.

NOTES: Jimmy Gordon's 18-yard TD reception from Zordich in the first quarter was the first score of his career. ... Buffalo is 5-2 in its last seven home openers. ... Buffalo and Morgan State have met twice before when the Bulls were in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Bears defeated the Bulls 45-27 in 1992, and Buffalo beat Morgan State 35-17 in 1998.
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