Night of Firsts in Broncos Win

For the first time since the 2001 season the Western Michigan University Broncos football team has won three consecutive games after holding on the beat the University at Buffalo Bulls 31-21 at Waldo Stadium. The Broncos treated the 14,198 fans in attendance to a night of firsts.

Senior Greg Jennings extending his receptions game streak to 28-consecutive and he also added two more touchdown receptions to school leading 30-career receptions for a touchdown. Jennings also recorded a personal first as did Joe Chapple on the same play. Early in the second quarter, on a first and 10 from the 22 yard line of Buffalo, Jennings took the handoff from senior quarterback Robbie Haas on what looked like a reverse that was going to go for a big gain, but as Jennings neared the line of scrimmage he stopped.

Jennings took a look down field and spotted Chapple who was covered at the goal line. Despite the coverage Jennings put the ball in Chapple's hands like a seasoned veteran quarterback for his first career touchdown pass and Chapple's first career touchdown reception. After the game Jennings said that he was going to get it to Chapple even if Chapple was double covered or not. Head coach Bill Cubit said, "I'm happy for Joey and I'm happy for Greg. To see all of this going on is the reason I love to coach."

With the Broncos leading 17-0 at the 10:18 mark of the second quarter, shortly after Cubit walked over to freshman Tim Hiller and told him that he was going to burn his redshirt, Tim Hiller took his first collegiate snap under center. On a first and 10 from the Bulls 21 Hiller handed the ball off to Trovon Riley who ran for no gain. On the next play Hiller completed his first collegiate pass, a 10-yard strike to Jennings. After a false start penalty Hiller completed his first collegiate touchdown pass. This time a 16-yard pass on a fade route to Jennings.

"We're not playing for next year or the year after that," Cubit said. "We're playing for this year. He (Hiller) came out and played very well. We're all very proud of him. I'm happy for him and his family." Hiller completed 3 out of 7 passes for 28 yards and two touchdowns.

Cubit used Haas in the first and third quarters allowing Hiller to get as much playing time as possible by allowing him to play most of the second and all of the fourth quarter. Haas completed 10 out of 16 passes for 134 yards and 1 touchdown.

On the ground for the Broncos senior Trovon Riley gained 78 yards on 14 carries which was 6 yards more than the entire Buffalo team ran for. The Bulls ran for 72 yards with Jared Patterson leading the way with 47 yards on 14 carries. Broncos' backup running back sophomore Mark Bonds rushed for 74 yards on 11 carries. "I wanted to get 150 yards rushing and close to 200 yards passing," Cubit said after the game. "If we did that I knew it would be a good day." The Broncos finished with 151 yards rushing and 184 yards passing.

Heading into the fourth quarter the Broncos defense had not allowed a touchdown in six straight quarters and had not allowed any points in five consecutive quarters. Both streaks ended when Drew Willy found Chad Upshaw all alone in the end zone for a 25 yard scoring strike on the second play of the quarter. Upshaw's touchdown was the first touchdown for the Bulls this season and Willy's first career touchdown. It was also the first touchdown for the Bulls after going four straight games (dating back to last season) without scoring a touchdown.

On the Bulls next possession aided by one of the few bad calls of the game Willy led the Bulls on an 11 play, 70 yard scoring drive that used up 6:16 seconds of the clock. The key play coming on a second and five at the Broncos 37 yard line, with Jeff Green and the Broncos cornerback freshman Louis Delmas running stride for stride down the sideline, Willy let go of a pass to Green. When the ball arrived Green had a fist full of Delmas' jersey. The official threw the flag calling Delmas for pass interference giving the Bulls a first and ten at the Broncos 22 yard line. Seven plays later Jared Patterson brought the Bulls to within 10 on a 1 yard run for a touchdown.

The Broncos were eventually able to get back out to a 17 point lead when Tim Hiller found Tony Scheffler in the back of the end zone for a 2 yard touchdown. The touchdown was set up by a 44 yard scamper down the left sideline by Bonds. "Western brought the tempo to the game," Bulls head coach Jim Hofher said. "They were a very formidable opponent."

Hofher was pleased with how his freshman quarterback played, "Drew played calm. It was as if he had been out there for years." Willy responded to the Broncos touchdown by completing 5 out of 5 passes on the next drive with the big one being a 46 strike to a wide open Brett Hamlin. Willy ended the drive finding Derrick Dyer for a six yard scoring strike.

"Simply a game of too little, too late," said Hofher. "I challenged them in the locker room at halftime to come out with a tempo that would keep us in the game. We came out and played well in the second half, but it was just too little, too late. We made improvements this game, but there were still some things that we need to improve on."

The Bulls' 21 points are the most since a 36-6 victory over Central Michigan last season. Willy's 30 completions are the most by a Buffalo quarterback since Randall Secky completed more than 25 in 2002. Willy completed 30 out of 38 passes for 288 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Broncos (3-2, 1-1 MAC) return to action again next Saturday when they take on the Ball State Cardinals at 7:00pm in the annual Education Day/Family Fest.

Broncos Illustrated Top Stories