Hope has officially been breathed back into the Kent State football season. With the change at quarterback a week ago to Nick Holley, Kent State has now shown the ability to pick up big chunks of yards and also sustain drives.
The tenor of this game was set early in the first quarter when a combination of poor officiating and opportunistic Kent State offensive play led to an early lead. On the first scoring drive of the game, Buffalo appeared to have tackled Nick Holley, yet the whistle didn’t sound and 65 yards later Kent State was set up in fantastic field position. That drive would be capped off with a field goal, and Kent State wouldn’t relinquish the lead for the rest of the afternoon.
While the Buffalo offense did themselves no favors picking up a total of 19 yards on their first three possessions, the defense on the next Kent State possession had an interception called back on a penalty and a mysterious no-call on an apparent fumble. The fumble wasn’t reviewed, perhaps because the officials deemed forward progress having been stopped.
The difficult day continued for Buffalo as they were incapable of slowing down Nick Holley. For the day, Holley ran a total of 24 times for 224 yards and four touchdowns. When the Buffalo defense loaded the box in an attempt to stop the run, the Kent State coaching staff countered with creative play designs. One particularly effective play saw a fake jet sweep, combined with Nick Holley shuffling forward as if he was running, while Justin Rankin leaked out of the backfield for a 30-yard reception.
Kent State added just enough diversity to their offensive attack to open up holes for not just Holley to run through but also the running back combination of Will Matthews and Rankin, who picked up a combined 120 yards on 18 carries.
Buffalo’s offense just couldn’t get anything working as a well rested Kent State defense was equal to the task. Until two fourth quarter garbage time touchdowns, Buffalo was only able to muster six points and never really picked up the large plays that were needed.
Tyree Jackson, the Bulls freshman quarterback ended with respectable numbers (250 passing yards and 40 rushing), but many of those came in the fourth quarter when the game was already won. From the first ten minutes on, Kent State was able to keep Buffalo at an arms distance and maintain a comfortable lead throughout.
Kent State now moves their record to 2-4, 1-1 in conference and Buffalo drop to 1-4, 0-1 in conference play.