KENT, OH – (UB Press Release) Led by a career-high four touchdown runs from senior tailback Branden Oliver, the University at Buffalo football team won its sixth straight game, defeating Kent State, 41-21. The win improved the Bulls to 6-2, making it bowl eligible for just the second time as a FBS program.
"This is probably the most exciting time to be a UB Bull," said head coach Jeff Quinn. "I couldn't be more proud of how this football team has responded. We challenged them all week; we know we had to come on the road against a very good Kent State team. Give Kent State a lot of credit, they played hard, they have a lot of good football players, but our guys weren't going to be denied today. We knew the challenge and to be able to do it on the road against the defending MAC East champions say a lot about our football team."
Oliver continued his tear in conference action on Saturday afternoon as he finished the game with 185 rushing yards and scored on four straight UB touchdowns. With his 100-yard effort, Oliver has now rushed for over 100 yards on the ground in all four conference games and now has a school record 16 games breaking the 100 yard plateau. The four touchdown runs are a Division I-A record and the most by a Buffalo player since Anthony Swan in 1996.
It was a record day for a number of UB Bulls, including linebacker Khalil Mack, who was credited with his school-record 25th career sack as he forced Kent State into an intentional grounding in the third quarter. The sack was also Mack's 67th career tackle for loss.
Not to be outdone by the senior duo was signal caller Joe Licata, who went 20-for-31 with 285 yards and two touchdowns. The 285 yards tied a career high for Licata.
Alex Neutz opened up the scoring for the Bulls late in the opening quarter as he hauled in an eight-yard touchdown strike from Licata. The touchdown reception for Neutz was his 26th career touchdown, ranking second in school history, two behind Naaman Roosevelt.
Following a missed point after attempt by the Bulls made the score 6-0, the Golden Flashes responded with a touchdown of their own as Trayion Durham bulled into the end zone from five-yards out, giving the home team the 7-6 lead with 14:27 to play in the half. It was the first time that Buffalo had trailed in a game since Sep. 14 and the first time all year that the Bulls had trailed in a MAC game.
Buffalo claimed the lead back just over a minute later as Neutz hauled in a game-long 47 yard catch to set up Oliver's first rushing touchdown on the afternoon, a five-yard scamper.
With Kent State driving towards the end of the opening half, Mack came up with the biggest defensive play of the game as he intercepted a Colin Reardon pass at the UB nine-yard line and returned the ball to the Kent State 46-yard line. Mack's team-leading third interception on the season led to an Oliver 18-yard touchdown run as he carried a Kent State defender into the end zone.
The Oliver touchdown carry gave Buffalo the 20-7 halftime lead.
Oliver added two more touchdown runs in the third quarter to cap off his career-high four touchdown effort, giving the Bulls the dominate 34-7 lead with 4:55 to play in the third.
The home team responded with back-to-back touchdowns as Dri Archer finished off a 17-yard touchdown run and Tyshon Goode hauled in a 18-yard touchdown catch, making the score 34-21 in favor of the visitors.
Licata capped off his career day with a perfectly thrown 30-yard touchdown pass to Devon Hughes.
Hughes was one of nine different UB players to catch a pass from Licata, including senior Fred Lee, who hauled in six passes for 72 yards.
The Bulls used quick strikes to their advantage as five of their six touchdown drives went 1:30 or less. A lot of that can be attributed to good starting field position, either by turnovers or long kick returns from freshman Boise Ross, who averaged 37.0 yards per return.
Defensively, Mack and Brim each finished with double figures in tackles with 10. Lee Skinner added eight tackles as well. Junior cornerback Cortney Lester picked off his third pass of the season during the third quarter.
Again the Bulls did an excellent job taking care of the football and have not turned it over in a conference game this season. UB did turn both of its forced turnovers into points.
The Bulls have their first six-game winning streak since ending the 1959 season with six straight victories. The win was UB's fourth straight at Dix Stadium.
UB will now be off until Nov. 5 when it plays its final game at UB Stadium, hosting Ohio in a nationally televised game on ESPN2.