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Thursday, May 06, 2021
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Revisiting Jaret Patterson’s record-breaking game against Kent State

The junior running back had one of the greatest individual performances in college football history last November

<p>In a Nov. 28 blowout victory over Kent State, Patterson rewrote the NCAA Division I record book and thrust UB into the national spotlight.</p>

In a Nov. 28 blowout victory over Kent State, Patterson rewrote the NCAA Division I record book and thrust UB into the national spotlight.

Four hundred nine yards and eight touchdowns.

Those statistics will follow UB junior running back Jaret Patterson for the rest of his life.

In a Nov. 28 blowout victory over Kent State, Patterson rewrote the NCAA Division I record book and thrust UB into the national spotlight.

His performance in that game was one of the greatest in college football history.

Patterson’s eight touchdowns tied Howard Griffith and Kalen Ballage’s FBS record for rushing touchdowns in a single game and his 409 yards were 18 short of Samaje Perine’s single-game rushing record.

His 409 yards marked just the fourth time someone has rushed for 400 yards in a game in FBS history.

Patterson’s numbers against the Golden Flashes weren’t just impressive; they actually broke his own program record, which he set the week before when he rushed for 301 yards against Bowling Green. 

His 710 yards over a two-week span set another FBS record.

With those two record-setting performances, Patterson became just the second player in college football history to record back-to-back 300-yard rushing games, after Ricky Williams did it in 1998.

Patterson’s dominance was met with national praise. The Glendale, MD native trended in the top 20 on Twitter and even earned a shoutout on LeBron James’ Instagram story.

“It means a lot. It brings a lot of notoriety to the program, not just for myself but for guys that are coming up and my teammates, so it's big,” Patterson said after his record-breaking performance against Kent State. “It’s just good to have that around your program, it starts bringing a buzz around the program like ‘what are they doing over there?’ so it’s good to have that, that buzz around the program.”

For the game against Kent, Patterson wore No. 41 in honor of the late Solomon Jackson.

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Jackson’s No. 41 has become a symbol of strength within UB’s program since his tragic passing in 2016. In 2018, UB began the tradition of awarding Jackson’s No. 41 to a different player each week.

Patterson said wearing No. 41 meant the world to him, as he was not only playing for himself and his team, but also for Jackson.

“I was wearing No. 41, when someone gets that number they get superpowers,” Patterson said. “I can’t really explain it, I just wanted to represent that number real well.”

Adding to his motivations, Patterson was determined to make up for UB’s meltdown during a game against Kent State the year prior. 

The Bulls led by 21 points with under eight minutes remaining in their November 2019 matchup against the Golden Flashes. But, in the span of seven and a half minutes, Kent State recovered an onside kick, blocked a UB punt, scored three touchdowns and hit a game-winning field goal as time expired to knock off the Bulls in a heartbreaker.

That loss effectively ended the Bulls’ MAC Championship Game hopes.

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Patterson’s dominance was met with national praise. The Glendale, MD native trended in the top 20 on Twitter and even earned a shoutout on LeBron James’ Instagram story.

As UB’s revenge game approached, the Golden Flashes were clicking on all cylinders offensively. Kent State had the MAC’s highest-scoring offense heading into the 2020 matchup against UB.

“We took that personally,” 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.”

UB and Kent State’s explosive offenses exchanged touchdowns throughout the first half and into the second, as the Bulls led 35-31 with just under 13 minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Then Patterson and UB kicked it into second gear.

Patterson’s sixth touchdown gave the Bulls a 42-31 lead with 10 minutes to go in the third quarter. The Golden Flashes were unable to keep the game within striking distance after Patterson’s dagger.

Patterson continued to dominate well into the fourth quarter, as he recorded his seventh and eighth rushing touchdowns to put UB ahead 63-34.

With just 2:33 to go, UB was well in the lead and Patterson was staring history in the face. But, just 18 yards and one touchdown shy of setting single-game FBS records, Patterson was pulled from the game.

The decision set social media ablaze, and shocked CBS Sports’ broadcasting booth.

Ross Tucker was the color commentator for CBS Sports’ broadcast of the game and recalls feeling “excited” watching Patterson teeter on the brink of history.

“I was so excited that he was gonna break both the records at that point,” Tucker said in an interview with The Spectrum. “I thought they definitely know about it, they’re definitely keeping him in just to break these two records. It was the ultimate bait and switch, it was like oh wow, they know he can break these records, they’re gonna let them do it. This is awesome. For the rest of my life, I’m going to say that I called the game, where the guy had the most yards and the most touchdowns ever in college football.”

Tucker says watching head coach Lance Leipold pull Patterson from the game right before he made history made him “incredulous.”

“And then he gets like three carries, and then Lance [Leipold] takes him out, and I was like, ‘What?! No! Lance what are you doing?!’ I was incredulous,” Tucker said. “The play-by-play guy was like, ‘You’d love to block for him,’ I’m like, ‘No, I would get a holding penalty so we can go back and he can hit this record.’”

Tucker pleaded for Leipold to put Patterson back in the game while he was on the air, creating a viral moment to top off Patterson’s record-breaking day. Acting as a microphone for sports fans everywhere, Tucker wanted to see history first-hand.

“No! What are you doing Lance Leipold?! Don’t do this to me,” Tucker said during the game. “Lance, no! Somebody tell him we have a chance at history, stop hugging him and put him back in the game!”

Leipold said after the game that he didn’t know Patterson was on the brink of history until the post game press conference.

He noted that when facing an explosive offense like Kent State’s, the focus is mainly on defense after UB scores and things like individual records can get lost in the chaos of a college football sideline.

“I didn’t even know he had eight [touchdowns]. When we score you start thinking about, okay, how can we slow them down,” Leipold said. “For the eight touchdowns and the 400 yards and how close he was to the national records, yeah I guess maybe I wish I would have been known a little bit.”

Senior offensive tackle Kayode Awosika says he wasn’t aware of Patterson’s records during the game either, and added that the talk in the offensive huddle wasn’t about Patterson’s records, but rather how the offensive line could match Patterson’s elite level of play.

“The conversations are, ‘We have to play up to his level as well,’” Awosika said. “We know he’s gonna give 130%, we’re giving 140 to make the holes even bigger for him.”

Once Patterson was removed from the game, someone on the sideline notified him of his accomplishments.

The ultimate team player, Patterson had already set his sights on the next challenge and brushed off any disappointment from being benched with multiple single-game rushing records in sight.

“When they took me out they told me [about the near-record], but my mindset was just to run out the clock,” Patterson said. “I wasn’t thinking, ‘I need nine [touchdowns] or how many yards I ran for,’ they didn’t tell me until I came off. I wasn’t really too worried, my main focus was just running out the clock, getting the win and getting in the locker room to celebrate with my teammates and coaches.”

In an interview with CBS Sports, Patterson said Leipold texted him later that night and apologized for taking him out of the game prematurely. 

“It wasn’t until that night coach sent me a text and apologized,” Patterson said. “He said he didn’t know about the record. I told him I’m not tripping, I’m focused on Ohio [UB’s next scheduled opponent at the time] right now.”

Leipold said having a player as selfless as Patterson allows him not to focus on individual records. Leipold said Patterson is not only an elite individual talent, but also a stellar teammate and someone of high character.

“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.”

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Patterson continued to dominate well into the fourth quarter, as he recorded his seventh and eighth rushing touchdowns to put UB ahead 63-34.

Patterson’s durability and endurance also became a big talking point after the game.

Patterson not only carried the ball 36 times during his historic game, but he also comically hopped on the team training bike in between offensive positions.

But despite taking a tremendous amount of contact during the contest, Patterson treated it like any other day at the office.

“When the defense is on the field I stay on the bikes to keep moving so I stay warm,” Patterson said. “Getting this many yards and carries, I take care of my body. I take pride in taking care of my body. I think that definitely plays a big part in the carries and the yards and how I can finish games.”

Patterson’s high energy and work ethic mirror that of a superhero, Awosika says..

“It’s honestly shocking,” Awosika said. “It amazes me just how much he turns it up as the game goes. When other people are getting tired, it’s like he’s getting more and more intense and he’s just always pushing us.”

Everyone at UB Stadium that day walked away with the same feeling.

“I’ve been doing the media thing since I retired [from the NFL] in ‘07, and that’s probably a top-five game that I’ll remember,” Tucker said.

Patterson’s record-breaking day solidified his place as not only one of the best running backs in the country, but also one of the best college football players in the U.S.

“He’s very special. In some of those big plays, some things aren’t happening early, it’s the patience, it’s the vision,” Leipold said. “You start adding in his quickness, speed and balance. That’s what makes him one of the best in the country.”

Once an under-recruited Division I prospect, the 5-foot-6 underdog from Glendale is now the center of the national conversation, having already secured his spot in the history books and now looking to continue making his mark as he enters the NFL Draft.

Anthony DeCicco is the Senior Sports Editor and can be reached at anthony.decicco@ubspectrum.com and @DeCicco42 on Twitter


ANTHONY DECICCO
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Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor for The Spectrum. In his free time, he can be found playing video games, watching ‘90s Knicks games and arguing with people on NBA Twitter at 3 a.m. 

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