BUFFALO, NY – (UB Press Release) Branden Oliver rushed for a season-high 216 yards and broke the school record for career rushing yards to help the University at Buffalo football team to a 32-3 win over Massachusetts at UB Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Oliver has now rushed for 3,203 yards, surpassing James Starks’ previous mark of 3,140.
Although the day belonged to Oliver, it was UB’s defense that put on another dominant display. The Bulls held the Minutemen to 85 yards rushing, had three sacks, 11 tackles for loss and forced three turnovers, including a Khalil Mack interception return for a touchdown for the game’s first touchdown.
Mack finished the day with a sack, two tackles for loss and an interception. His sack was the 24th of his career, tying him with Rich Dadabo (1989-92) and Vince Canosa (1992-95) for the school record for career sacks. The senior linebacker intercepted a pass and did his best impression of Oliver, dodging defenders and racing 35 yards to the endzone for the game’s first touchdown. It was his second pick six of the season.
Fellow linebackers Adam Redden and Lee Skinner also had standout games. Redden finished with 12 tackles, a half sack, two tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup. Skinner had a season-high 11 tackles, including 1.5 for loss.
“Tonight, it was a complete victory and a necessary step to take as we continue to strive to accomplish the goals we set forth for our program,” Head Coach Jeff Quinn said. “Congratulations to Branden Oliver. To break James Starks’ all-time (rushing) record is very significant to our program because we know what a talented player James was and what he meant to this program. The guy that sparked us tonight was Khalil Mack. It was a great job by Lou (Tepper) putting him in the right place and coming up big with that interception. It was a great lift and a spark for this team.”
Patrick Clarke made field goals of 44, 36 and 27 yards to help extend the Buffalo lead to 16-3 early in the third quarter. It was another special teams play that sparked the Bulls for their next points as well. Tyler Grassman hit a beautiful punt that was downed at the UMass 1-yard line. On the very next play, Redden and Okoye Houston converged on UMass running back Jamal Wilson in the endzone for a safety.
The offense got in the act in the fourth quarter. Joe Licata found Fred Lee on a 7-yard touchdown strike to give the Bulls a 25-3 lead. Oliver capped the scoring with a 5-yard touchdown run to make the score 32-3.
Lee finished with a career-high eight catches for 70 yards. Licata went 18-for-27 for 167 yards and a touchdown.
Oliver was a workhorse for the Bulls. The senior running back set a school record with 43 carries in the game. His 216-yard performance was his third career 200-yard game.
“It was a battle – we knew the team that was less affected by the external factors would come off that field victorious and I thought our kids really responded and stayed in the game,” Quinn said. “It was a solid effort and a great feeling for me and the staff to come out this evening with a victory.”
The Bulls improved to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in the Mid-American Conference. The five-game winning streak is UB’s longest since the 2008 season. Buffalo will next play at Kent State next Saturday.