Buffalo lived over the middle and went one final time with the best possible option. Tyree Jackson's 29-yard scoring pass to all-American candidate Anthony Johnson with 59 seconds left gave Buffalo a 36-29 win over Temple in a non-conference game at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Johnson, playing in the slot, came across the middle and caught the ball at the 25-yard line. Johnson broke a tackle by Rodney Williams as he made the catch and went roaring toward the end zone. Near the end of the play, he also eluded Kimere Brown and Delvon Randall.
"I thought Rodney competed and did some really good things," Temple coach Geoff Collins said. "[People] try to pick out one or two plays that didn't go his way."
>> PHOTO GALLERY: Buffalo 36, Temple 29
That is the story of Temple's 0-2 season, a few plays not going its way, which also happened in last week's 19-17 loss to Villanova.
This time it was Johnson who applied the knockout punch.
"They were playing kind of far out so I knew if I caught the ball, I was going to make a play," Johnson said. "I always like to make the first guy miss and that is what I did, using my speed and strength."
The score completed a 10-play, 81-yard drive for the Bulls. Buffalo (2-0) received a reprieve on the drive after an incomplete pass on third down from the Bulls' 36. Temple defensive tackle Karamo Dioubate was called for roughing the passer, keeping the drive alive.
Buffalo's Jackson, a 6-foot-7, 245-pound redshirt junior, was chiefly responsible for the 10 NFL scouts in attendance. He completed 26 of 45 for 275 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
His counterpart Frank Nutile was 15 for 31 for 216 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
The scouts most likely took notes of Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin. He contributed seven tackles, three pass breakups and had one official interception, another on a two-point conversion try and a third that was overturned when it was ruled the ball hit the ground.
Temple received 107 yards on 14 carries from Ryquell Armstead who also saw time as a situational pass rusher. The Owls also had trouble stopping Kevin Marks, who rushed for 138 yards and two scores on 25 carries.
Temple was thoroughly outplayed during a 12-7 first half but scored on the final play when Nutile hit Branden Mack on a 39-yard Hail Mary pass in the end zone.
"We practice that every day, and I made a play," said Mack, who had three receptions for 47 yards and two scores while also blocking a punt that led to a touchdown.
Temple took a 14-12 lead while scoring on the first series of the second half when Nutile hit Randle Jones on a go-route for a 44-yard touchdown.
Buffalo made it 22-14 on Marks' 1-yard run and Adam Mitcheson's 46-yard field goal with 1:48 left in the third quarter.
Temple tied the score on a Mack's blocked punt and crazy twopoint conversion. Ty Mason recovered the blocked punt in the end zone. Ventell Bryant took a reverse pitch on a two-point conversion and when he saw he wouldn't score, he flipped a short pass to Kenny Yeboah, that tied the score at 22-22 with 11:24 left.
Buffalo took a 29-22 lead on its next possession when Jackson found Antonio Nunn on a 5-yard out pattern in the end zone with 7:43 left.
Back and forth it went. Temple tied the score on Mack's 3-yard touchdown reception on a back shoulder throw from Nutile with 4:53 remaining
Then Buffalo came up with its game-winning drive.
Buffalo took a 12-0 lead on a 33-yard touchdown reception by Charles Jones and Marks' 22-yard run early in the second quarter. On the two-point conversion play, Ya-Sin intercepted Jackson's poorly thrown pass in the end zone. Ya-Sin returned it for what appeared to be two points, but Temple was penalized for a block in the back, nullifying the return.
In the first half, Temple backup quarterbacks Anthony Russo and Todd Centeio saw action together in what Collins said were pre-determined packages. They played two series in the game.