The Buffalo Bulls offense came to life in UB Stadium on Thursday night, upsetting Akron, 41-20. The Zips were tied for the lead in the MAC East and Buffalo was winless in conference play to date, but Buffalo entered a different dimension in the three-touchdown victory, totaling 518 yards in the offensive clinic.
Senior running back Jordan Johnson charged through the Zips’ defense en route to a program record 282 rushing yards, shattering Alan Bell’s record that had endured since 1991. Johnson entered the matchup with only 443 rushing yards to his name, but his breakout performance seemingly changed the identity of the struggling Buffalo Bulls. He scored two touchdowns, including a 61-yard burst in the second quarter and another 39-yard score down the right sideline to seal Buffalo’s first MAC victory of 2016.
Tyree Jackson also had a great day, as the freshman set the season-high scoring record for the Bulls with a rushing touchdown that ended in the left corner of the end zone.
“It was real fun,” Johnson told ESPN following the game. “Honestly, it was just great blocking up front.”
The Bulls’ offensive line decisively won the battle in the trenches against the Akron defense. Buffalo earned a season-high 378 yards on the ground, in comparison to Akron’s 128 on the same amount of attempts. Jackson joined forces with Johnson, accumulating 60 yards on the ground and two touchdowns himself.
Akron’s normally potent offense lacked efficiency in the loss. Quarterback Thomas Woodson finished 18-of-42 passing, his lowest completion mark of his career. Akron looked hapless on pass offense all night, with many dropped passes and incompletions that prevented any sort of rhythm.
The Zips finished 20 percent on fourth down conversions, leaving points on the board by failing on three opportunities in Buffalo territory. At one point in the game, Woodson took a brutal sack with a pack of Bulls defenders present in the backfield attempting to make up a 14-point gap.
With the loss, Akron loses ground in the MAC East. The Zips’ defense proved that major adjustments are needed in stopping the run game if they hope to represent the East in the conference championship in December. Akron returns home for a mid-week MACtion competition against Toledo on Wednesday.
For Buffalo, the win worked wonders for the team’s confidence. In the postgame interview with ESPN, Johnson remained confident about the team winning out and competing in a bowl game. For Buffalo, the offense hopes to build on the dominant performance at Ohio next Thursday.