Buffalo football dominates in final home game
On a night celebrating the seniors, a freshman stole the show.
Freshman running back Jaret Patterson took the second snap of the game and sprinted 64 yards to the end zone. Patterson finished with more rushing yards than Kent State had in total yards.
The Bulls (9-1, 6-0 Mid-American Conference) defeated Kent State (2-8, 1-5 MAC) 48-14 Tuesday night. The strong winds and intermittent showers did little to deter fans and the Bulls on their way to victory.
For the first time in 105 seasons, Buffalo football is 9-1.
“When you go through a 2-10 season, you learn a lot about yourself and the man in the mirror,” said senior center James O’Hagan. “You look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do to get better and how can I improve this place.’ You get a sense of maturity and you know what you have to do to get over the hump and you know what it's like to be down in the dumps. You don't want to go back there.”
Just over five minutes into the game, Patterson already rushed for over 100 yards. He had 71 yards on the Bulls’ first drive, 33 on the second and finished the first quarter with 118 yards and a touchdown.
Patterson’s 187 yards are a career high and the most by a Buffalo running back this season. Patterson has 763 yards on the season and 10 touchdowns. Both are team-highs.
“We knew that our running game is a big part of the team. They call it the stable,” Patterson said. “Coach Kotelnicki told us it's a stable day, we're going to run the ball and do what we had to do to get it done.”
The star freshman was not the only Bull to dominate the Flashes. Junior running back Emmanuel Reed found the endzone for the first time this season and five total players rushed for a touchdown. Redshirt-freshman running back Dylan McDuffie got the carries of his career in the blowout.
Kent State was no match for the Bulls defense. Even without senior linebacker Khalil Hodge, UB only allowed Kent State to get the ball to the 50-yard line once during the first-half. Both teams punted into wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour, and one Kent State punt went for 0 yards.
Buffalo did not allow a point until they were up 48-0.
The Bulls offense routinely took over near midfield. Junior linebacker Matt Otwinowski led the charge with 8 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.
Kent State had 7 consecutive drives ending after 3 plays.
“We talked all week about doing the little things right,” Otwinowski said. “Last week we got away from what we do as a defense and we just wanted to go out there and execute and play with good fundamentals.”
By halftime, the Bulls were up 34-0.
By the end of the third quarter, the starters were out of the game.
This season has been a long time coming for the Bulls. Just two seasons ago they finished 2-10, worst in the MAC.
“Now we have a chance to do some things that are really special,” head coach Lance Leipold said. “It's not finished. It you spend too much time on it then you're never going to fulfill what you're really trying to get done.”
The Bulls have a chance next week to make that 2-10 season seem like a century ago when Buffalo plays against the Ohio Bobcats (6-3, 4-1 MAC). With a win they can clinch the MAC East title.
Buffalo has not won at Ohio since 2008. The last time they won the MAC Championship.
“Ohio is always the biggest week,” O’Hagan said. “I always get fired up for Ohio week. Last year it was probably my favorite game I ever played in. I’m just extremely excited to get the opportunity to play them.”
The most important matchup for the Bulls all season kicks off next Wednesday at 7 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN2.
Nathaniel Mendelson is the sports editor and can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @NateMendelson