After a record-breaking 301-yard performance against Bowling Green, expectations for junior running back Jaret Patterson couldn’t have been higher heading into week four’s matchup against Kent State.
Patterson, the second-ranked running back on CBS Sports’ NFL prospect rankings, received national recognition for his rushing performances through UB’s first three games. With all eyes on him, the pressure was on Patterson to have another great performance against undefeated Kent State.
The nation’s leading rusher didn’t feel any pressure.
Patterson, who wore number 41 in honor of the late Solomon Jackson, ran for 409 yards and eight touchdowns, breaking the single-game Mid-American Conference rushing record. The Glendale, MD native also broke the conference record and tied the NCAA record for rushing touchdowns in a game.
The performance is one of the greatest in college football history and ranks Patterson second on the all-time FBS single-game rushing yards list, 18 yards behind Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine, who set the record in 2014.
Patterson’s record-breaking day was met with national praise, as every major sports media outlet acknowledged his performance. Patterson became one of the top 20 trends on Twitter and was even recognized on LeBron James’ Instagram story.
“He’s very special. In some of those big plays, some things are happening early, it’s the patience, it’s the vision,” head coach Lance Leipold said when discussing his running back’s record-breaking day. “You start adding in his quickness, speed and balance. That’s what makes him one of the best in the country.”
The offensive line created huge holes for Patterson to run through, as the junior galloped to the end zone untouched at times.
Despite the offensive line’s play, Patterson’s ability to not only break tackles but improve as the game progresses sets him apart from the rest of the running backs in the country.
“It amazes me just how much he turns it up as the game goes on,” offensive tackle Kayode Awoshika said. “When other people are getting tired, it’s like he’s getting more and more intense and he’s just always pushing us.”
The UB rushing attack was hitting on all cylinders, with junior running back Kevin Marks adding 97 yards and two touchdowns on top of Patterson’s career day. The two combined for 506 rushing yards, the most by two players on the same team in NCAA history.
The Bulls scored a school-record 70 points in Saturday afternoon’s contest, putting UB in prime position to win the MAC East and play in the MAC Championship.
With last season’s 21-point meltdown against Kent State looming, the Bulls were able to slow down Kent State’s high-powered offense.
The defense allowed senior quarterback Dustin Crum to throw for 343 yards and three touchdowns. The Bulls secondary was picked on at times, with junior receiver Isiah McKoy gashing the defense for 137 yards on five catches. UB’s defensive backs had trouble with McKoy all afternoon, either giving up big plays or penalties nearly every time McKoy was targeted. Despite the secondary’s struggles, the defense came up with crucial stops when needed. Junior linebacker James Patterson led the Bulls with 13 tackles while senior defensive end Malcolm Koonce recorded five tackles and a sack. Sophomore safety Cory Gross Jr. added an interception to UB’s defensive effort.
Kent State had the conference’s highest-scoring offense going into Saturday’s matchup, providing extra motivation for an already potent UB rushing attack.
In preparation for Kent, offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki put up Kent State’s offensive stats in an offensive meeting, challenging his offense to out-perform the Golden Flashes.
“We took that personally,” Jaret Patterson said. “Just from how last year’s game ended, how they’re putting points up and just saying how they’re so good. We’re pretty good too so we definitely took that personally.”
As the game was already decided, Patterson was staring history in the face. With just 18 yards and one touchdown shy of FBS single-game records, Patterson was pulled from the game.
The decision set social media ablaze as every sports fan wanted to see Patterson make history and break both records.
Patterson, the ultimate team player, wasn’t too concerned with breaking the records.
“I wasn’t really too worried, my main focus was just running the clock, getting the win, and getting into the locker room to celebrate with my teammates and coaches,” Patterson said.
Leipold says he wished he knew how close Patterson was to both records, but having a player as selfless as Patterson doesn’t force you to think about those things.
Patterson isn’t only a great player, but a high-character individual.
“It’s the humbleness that he carries, the hunger that he has each and every week to be even better and the gratitude he has for his teammates that helped him get there,” Leipold said. “When your best players are your best practice players, the best in the communities, doing those things, those are things that are a coach’s dream.”
As UB reaches the home stretch of its season, the Bulls are only two wins away from an undefeated regular season.
The records are great for Patterson, but insignificant when compared to his greater goal: a MAC Championship.
“It’s great but with my mindset, I really can’t reflect because we still have two games left, and our ultimate goal is to go to Detroit,” Patterson said. “I won’t stop working, I won’t start harping on that and until we get there and win it [MAC Championship].”
The Bulls hit the road to take on the Ohio Bobcats in Athens, OH Saturday afternoon.
Anthony DeCicco is the Editor-in-Chief of The Spectrum. His words have appeared in outlets such as SLAM Magazine andSyracuse.com. In 2020, he was awarded First Prize for Sports Column Writing at the Society of Professional Journalists' Region 1 Mark of Excellence Awards. In his free time, he can be found watching ‘90s Knicks games and reading NFL Mock Drafts at 3 a.m.