Patterson, Bulls bulldoze Golden Flashes in battle for MAC East lead
Jaret Patterson and his teammates in the trenches made sure there would be no miracles in Saturday's Kent State-Buffalo rematch.
Patterson broke his own school record with 409 yards rushing and tied the FBS mark with eight touchdowns, carrying the Bulls to a convincing 70-41 triumph over the Golden Flashes at UB Stadium that gives them first place outright in the Mid-American Conference East Division with two regular season games remaining.
Kent State had never surrendered 70 points to a MAC foe before Saturday.
Aided by an offensive line that manhandled the Flashes all afternoon, Patterson piled up the second-highest single-game rushing total in FBS history. He had a chance to break both single-game rushing and touchdown records, but was pulled from the contest with just over two minutes remaining by head coach Lance Leipold – who was not aware of the records situation.
“I felt like our plan was solid going into things,” said KSU head coach Sean Lewis. “We're not the only ones that have had our hands full with Jaret Patterson and this offensive line, which is one of the best in the league. I think they won a lot of one-on-one matchups.”
Patterson rushed for 267 yards and five touchdowns in the first half alone, helping Buffalo grab a 35-24 lead. The Bulls (4-0) then pulled away in the second half to snap Kent State's seven-game winning streak.
The Flashes' run of victories started when they scored 24 consecutive points in the final 7:39 to stun Buffalo with a walk-off field goal on the final play of last year's mid-November matchup.
“I think everyone got a good piece of humble pie on this Thanksgiving weekend, most notably myself from Leipold. Great coach, great staff, runs a great program,” said Lewis. “There are some very valuable lessons for us all to take out of this.”
Kent State (3-1) hung around in last year's contest by keeping Patterson in relative check. He needed 30 carries to amass 141 yards, with a long run of 16 yards, and never found the end zone.
On Saturday, Patterson broke loose for 62 yards on his team's first play from scrimmage, scored on the second, and never let up. He busted off touchdown runs of 3, 31, 42, 49, 1, 7, 11 and 58 yards, and was barely touched or not even grazed on most of those jaunts — although he did run through two defenders on the last one midway through the fourth quarter.
Flashes senior quarterback Dustin Crum turned in another stellar performance of his own, completing 22-of-32 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns with one interception while adding 76 yards rushing on 13 carries with another score. Junior wide receiver Isaiah McKoy (5 catches, 137 yards, 1 TD) and sophomore wideout Ja'Shaun Poke (7-124) each cracked 100 yards receiving for Kent State.
But there was no keeping up with Patterson on this day.
Slowing Patterson down was a concern heading into Saturday's contest. Kent State had surrendered 472 yards rushing in the past two weeks to winless Bowling Green and Akron, while Patterson was fresh off a school-record 301-yard effort against the Falcons on Nov. 17.
Despite Patterson's first-half onslaught, the Flashes had a great chance to get into intermission trailing by just one score.
Patterson reached 100 yards just 3:56 into the contest, scoring his second touchdown on a 31-yard run untouched to put Buffalo up 14-0. Kent State got on the board with a short Matthew Trickett field goal, forced a rare Bulls punt, then Crum hit junior tight end Kris Leach for a 3-yard score that made it 14-10.
Patterson countered with a 42-yard touchdown run to complete his 156-yard, three-touchdown first quarter and give Buffalo a 21-10 lead.
A Flashes offense that entered Saturday's contest leading the nation in scoring at nearly 53 points per game answered the bell again, as McKoy beat his man badly on a deep post pattern and hauled in a 42-yard bomb to make it 21-17.
Patterson went over 200 yards on the Bulls' next drive, which he capped with a 49-yard touchdown run that made it 28-17 just over five minutes into the second quarter.
Back came Crum, who bounced off several defenders while pinballing into the end zone on a 20-yard run to bring his team back within four.
Patterson retaliated with his fifth touchdown of the first half, a 1-yard run that gave the Bulls a 35-24 advantage. The Flashes had a chance to answer, driving deep into UB territory, but on a fourth-and-one play Bulls rush end Malcolm Koonce dropped off the line and deflected a short pass attempt by Crum.
“I think I probably mismanaged that situation,” said Lewis, who alluded to either running or taking the points (field goal) as opposed to throwing a short pass. “That's the first fourth down that we haven't converted this year. Hindsight being 20-20, I should have taken the points.”
Kent State took the second-half kickoff and put seven points up quickly. Crum hit McKoy for 45 yards on the first play, and junior running back Xavier Williams scored from a yard out to make it a four-point game yet again.
Patterson went back to work, scoring from 7 yards out. Then after Lewis elected to punt on fourth-and-one from his own end of the field, Buffalo marched 84 yards on 14 plays with Patterson on the sideline for all but one play. Kevin Marks capped the near seven-minute drive with a 7-yard touchdown run that put the Bulls in control at 49-31.
Buffalo tacked on another touchdown early in the fourth quarter following a Crum interception, just his second of the year, and the rout was on.
“I think it's a good measuring stick right now to where we're at as a program, where coach Leipold has his program and the direction they have headed over the past few years,” said Lewis. “Obviously we learned some tough lessons today, but I'm really proud of our kids.”
Bulls junior quarterback Kyle Vantrease, a former Stow High School star, was his typically solid self while completing 11-of-21 passes for 148 yards.
Kent State will visit Miami (2-1) on Saturday.