The No. 19 WTAMU Buffalo football team traveled to Columbus, OH on Nov. 30 to take on the No. 7 Ohio Dominican Panthers in the second round of the NCAA Division II football playoffs. The Buffs held on for a 34-27 victory to advance to the quarterfinals for the second straight season.
The Panthers struck first on a three-yard touchdown pass from Mark Miller to Jerad Butler with 10:39 remaining in the first quarter. It would be the only scoring of the opening frame, leaving ODU with a 7-0 lead after the first.
WT would answer with a three-yard touchdown pass of their own, from senior Dustin Vaughn to sophomore Geremy Alridge to tie the game 7-7 with 2:14 left in the second. The 7-7 tie would maintain until halftime.
The Panthers would take a 13-7 lead after an eight-yard touchdown pass from Miller to Nick McKnight with 12:47 to play in the third quarter. The Buffs would bring the game back even after two field goals by senior Sergio Castillo, Jr., a 44-yarder and a 25-yarder, to even the score 13-13 heading into the fourth quarter.
WT took their first lead after Vaughn connected with junior Anthony Johnson on a five-yard touchdown to give the Buffs their first lead 20-13 with 12:26 to go in the game. The Buffs would extend their lead on a 69-yard touchdown from Vaughn to senior Torrence Allen to give WT a 27-13 lead with 9:24 remaining. ODU would get it back to a one-score game when Miller hit Abe Johnson for a 14-yard touchdown with 6:24 on the clock to make it 27-20, Buffs.
WT would increase the lead to 34-20 when Vaughn and Johnson connected on a 31-yard touchdown with 2:07 left. Despite a six-yard score by Ronnel Spates with just over one minute remaining in the game, the Panthers were unable to pull off the comeback.
The Buffs outgained ODU 530-392 in the game. The Panthers held the rushing advantage 114-143. However, WT outgained the Panthers 416-249 through the air.
Vaughn finished the game 39-of-52 for 416 yards and four scores. Alridge led the rushing attack with 18 carries for 76 yards. Johnson caught ten passes for the Buffs, totaling 168 yards and two scores, and Allen caught 11 passes for 145 yards and one score.
WT improves to 11-2 on the season while ODU falls to 10-1. The Buffs will play No. 4-seed Grand Valley State in Allendale, MICH in the quarterfinals on Dec. 7. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. local time.