Flashes of Brilliance
Kent State Trounces Bulls, 35-13
Prior to Saturday's match-up against the Bulls, Kent State true freshman quarterback Joshua Cribbs was the eighth-leading rusher in the Mid-American Conference - no other quarterback made the list.
So Buffalo's game plan was obvious: stop Cribbs on the ground and we will stop Kent State, right? Wrong.
The Kent State Golden Flashes (3-4, 2-2 MAC) rode the arm of Cribbs throughout the first half, and played stellar defense in the second half on the way to their third consecutive win, a 35-13 decision over the Bulls (1-6, 0-5 MAC) before 8,260 fans at Dix Stadium.
Kent State's young gun threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns while leading the Golden Flashes to a commanding 28-10 halftime lead. KSU never punted in the first half, and failed to score on just one drive.
"We had three consecutive second-and-tens, and they got the first down every time," said UB Head Coach Jim Hofher.
The Golden Flashes jumped out to an early 7-0 lead after a 63-yard drive was capped off by a 4-yard touchdown blast up the middle by David Alston. It was his fifth touchdown of the season.
Led by Cribbs, KSU marched down the field on their next possession with a mix of catches by Alston and wide-receiver Jurron Kelly. Kelly beat UB's Mark Graham on a slant pattern and scampered 26 yards for a touchdown to make the score 14-3.
A UB defensive stand on fourth and two from their own 4-yard line prevented Kent State from scoring on their third possession. Alston got the call and ran up the middle only to find a swarm of Buffalo defenders, and came up a yard short.
The defensive stop gave the Bulls some momentum, but it quickly dissipated after a miss-read by quarterback Joe Freedy led to a James Harrison interception that he returned for a touchdown. Harrison tipped the ball, caught it, rumbled 26 yards to the goal line and leapt over a UB offensive lineman into the end-zone to give Kent State a 21-3 advantage.
"[The interception] was my fault completely," Freedy said. "It was poor timing on my part and poor vision."
"Any turnover for points is really tough to overcome," Hofher said.
Cribbs capped off a stellar first half by going 5-for-5 on a drive that saw him hit Kelly again for a 10-yard touchdown strike with only 1:26 remaining.
Kent State Head Coach Dean Pees said that his team's passing success was the result of a well prepared game plan.
"We really felt like we could take advantage sometimes of their linebackers because they would move them out when you spread the field on them," Pees said. "We didn't think their secondary could cover us one on one, and they didn't."
"The game plan was there, we just didn't execute," said Bulls' linebacker Duane Williams.
Buffalo's only touchdown of the game came just before halftime when Freedy connected with Matt Knueven on a post pattern for a 50-yard touchdown pass.
Freedy went 16-of-34 passing for 193 yards but threw three interceptions. It was the fifth time this season that he had a multiple interception game.
KSU's Darrel Dowery capped off the scoring with an elusive 54-yard reverse down the left sideline.
Alston racked up the yards in the second half as the Golden Flashes threw just three times. He finished with 89 yards on 21 carries for the day.
Derrick Gordon, in his second feature role of the season, gained 83 yards on 22 carries as running back for the Bulls. Marquis Dwarte, who missed last week's game against Marshall with a neck injury, carried the ball just seven times.
"We didn't create enough movement for a running game," Hofher said.
Hofher came away from the game with a lot of respect for the Golden Flashes.
"Kent State caused us not to do things well more than we didn't do things well ourselves. A lot of credit belongs to their ball club today," he said. "I think anybody who plays Kent is gonna have to be concerned about containing a dynamic, mobile, decisive, competitive football player."