UB Bulls beat Kent State 27-13 in MAC opener
The UB Bulls are on a three-win roll and redshirt sophomore running back Emmanuel Reed is leading the charge. Saturday marked Reed's third straight game with over 100 yards – a first for the Bulls since 2014.
Buffalo opened up MAC play Saturday at Dix Stadium to take on the Kent State Golden Flashes. The Bulls jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and defeated the Golden Flashes 27-13. Reed was the X factor in the game and finished with 144 yards and three touchdowns.
Reed entered the season as the backup running back to redshirt junior running back Johnathan Hawkins. Hawkins was injured in the first half of the Colgate game and hasn't played since. Reed has been taking advantage of the opportunity and has 371 yards in the last three games.
“[Offensive coordinator] Andy Kotelnicki has done a great job with him, he’s understanding the game more,” said Bulls head coach Lance Leipold. “A year ago he was kind of buried a little bit on the depth chart, reps even in practice are sometimes tough to come by. Now he’s got a little breath of fresh air in there and he’s taking advantage of his opportunity and I’m very proud of the way he’s played.”
Buffalo’s offense stumbled on their first two drives with a punt and interception in the course of four plays. They settled in when Reed carried four straight times for 80 yards on the third drive. The drive was highlighted by a 55-yard run and an 18-yard touchdown. Reed scored on two of the next three Bulls' possessions.
Junior quarterback Drew Anderson secured the victory in the first Football Bowl Subdivision start of his career in place of injured redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyree Jackson. Anderson went 11-of-18 for 142 yards plus 76 yards on the ground. He had one touchdown and one interception.
“We prepared well all week so it feels good to get a win,” Anderson said. “I kind of had to get into the game a little bit, can't make those kinds of mistakes early but once I got into the game I was fine.”
The Bulls controlled the trenches and allowed their run game to thrive. They finished with 235 team rushing yards. The offensive line were winning at the point of attack.
After last week's game, Anderson said he has the athleticism for the quarterback runs that has helped the offense all season. He proved it this week when he kept an option play from his own two-yard line and ran 64 yards to set up Buffalo’s final touchdown of the game.
The defense also had a great game Saturday. The front seven had their best game of the year and only allowed 124 yards on 40 carries. They combined for four sacks and seven tackles-for-loss.
The pass defense struggled a bit and allowed over 300 passing yards for the first time in almost two years.
The Golden Flashes' biggest play of the game came on a 75-yard pass to sophomore receiver Kavious Price. The Bulls secondary bit too hard on a play action and Price slipped behind them for the touchdown.
“They caught me slipping on one play,” said junior cornerback Brandon Williams. “They actually got a score on it, so I had to kind of respond back for my team.”
He redeemed himself by picking off a game sealing interception with less than five minutes in the game.
In what is becoming a regular occurrence, junior linebacker Khalil Hodge had double digit tackles for the second straight week. He has had 10 or more tackles in four of the five games this season.
The Bulls have now won three straight games and have a lot of momentum with the start of MAC play. This was the first time the Bulls have won their conference opener since 2014.
"It feels great right now but we just gotta keep on winning,” Williams said. “We can’t get sidetracked, we just wanna keep on winning, keep the streak going and defend the house.”
The Bulls return to Buffalo for a two-game home stand, kicking off next Saturday when the Western Michigan Broncos come to town. The Broncos are fresh off a thrashing of the Ball State Cardinals. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.
Daniel Petruccelli is the co-senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org