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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: UB packs them in

   Aug. 31, 2006 -- If you are going to have a record crowd turn out, you might as well entertain them.

   The huge gathering that went to UB Stadium on this night got their money's worth. They saw a thriller between the Bulls and Temple. Rodney McKissic had the story for The News:

   The University at Buffalo and Temple are indeed mirror images of each other, so it was only fitting that it took overtime to decide Thursday night's game. It was also appropriate that a Western New Yorker helped determine the outcome.

    James Starks, the redshirt freshman from Niagara Falls, scored on an 18-yard run in overtime to give UB a 9-3 victory in the head coaching debut of Turner Gill. A school-record 29,795 tickets were sold for the unveiling of Gill's first team, which is trying to chase the ghosts of past failures in Amherst.

    It was just the third overtime game in UB history and the first since the 2000 season when the Bulls defeated Kent State, 20-17, at UB Stadium.

    "Oh, it's a great day," said Gill, the former Nebraska great who gave Buffalo its first season-opening victory since 1997. "This is the first step of many things that happen down the road, and I think it's going to happen sooner rather than later."Starks, who rushed for all of his 86 yards in the second half and overtime, was mobbed by the entire UB bench in the end zone after the touchdown in celebration of the program's first victory at home since the 2004 season. Then many in the lively student section ran on the field and enveloped the team instead of the goal post. A blowout or rout would have been better, especially against a team playing for a new head coach in Al Golden and coming off a winless in 2005. But the Gill era was kicked off in a positive way.

    "[Gill] taught us a lot of things about being a family and being together," said senior linebacker Ramon Guzman, who recorded a game-high 14 tackles, including three for a loss. "This is a good accomplishment for him and for us having won our first home opener since '97."

--- Budd Bailey

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