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2019 MAC Football Week 12 Game Recap: Kent State completes unbelievable comeback in 30-27 win over Buffalo

Matthew Trickett, the super sophomore kicker, came through in the clutch to deliver victory from the jaws of defeat.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 29 Kent State at Arizona State Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With 7:39 to go in the game, Kent State lined up to kick off after scoring a touchdown on the previous drive, courtesy of a seven-yard rushing touchdown by Xavier Williams to cap off an 11 play, 76 yard drive to put the game at 27-13 in favor of Buffalo.

The Kent State kickoff squad lined up at the 35-yard line, but this formation looked a bit different than usual. One player from each side hid behind the line of scrimmage and converged to meet the kicker, Matt Trickett, at the point of attack. Trickett drilled the kick right into the Dix Stadium turf, and it bounced the required 10 yards. The KSU kickoff squad pursued the ball immediately, aided in part by the hidden players, and Trickett fell onto the ball to give the Flashes possession once again.

It was the turning point in a game which gave Trickett, the hero of the onside kick, the opportunity to deal the deathblow from 44 yards out with one second left. He nailed it, and the Flashes (4-6, 3-3 MAC) completed a 24-point unanswered streak in the fourth quarter to take down Buffalo (5-5, 3-3 MAC) by a final score of 30-27.

The win was only the second time in 20 years a team had managed to come back from 21 points down in the fourth quarter with under eight minutes to play and win, and the first time it happened since 2015 (Houston over Pittsburgh in the Armed Forces Bowl.)

Over the previous 42 minutes and 21 seconds, it looked very much like Buffalo’s game to win.

Buffalo opened up the game dominating the time of possession in the first quarter, allowing Kent State to hold the ball for only 3:29. They also held the lead at halftime, going up 17-6, with a seven-minute advantage in time of possession and forcing Kent State to four punts, and interception and two field goals on seven possessions.

Known for their rushing attack, Buffalo came out guns blazing, getting the first touchdown of the day on a 30-yard pass from Kyle Vantrease to Daniel Lee, Jr., to put the Bulls up 7-0 at the 11:26 mark. They’d find the scoreboard once again in the second quarter, this time on the more familiar ground, finding paydirt on a read option Vantrease run to go up 14-0.

The teams exchanged field goals from there to end the half.

After forcing the Kent State punt a minute or so into the second half, Buffalo went on to drive down the field on an extremely impressive 19-play, 76 yard drive which was capped off after 9:16 by a two-yard Kevin Marks run to push the total to 24-6 with 3:51 to go in the third quarter. The Bulls tacked on a short Alex McNulty field goal to make the deficit 27-6.

That’s where the game started to turn around.

Kent State took the ball and simply ran it down Buffalo’s throat, attempting only two passes on an 11-play drive. The momentum seemed to have shifted back to Buffalo on an offensive holding call to force 2nd and 22 after a 20-yard run by Dustin Crum to pick up first down. Xavier Williams picked up those 20 yards back on the next play to make it 3rd and two. Buffalo called timeout, but still couldn’t stop the run, as Crum gained three yards to gain a new set of downs inside the ten-yard line. Williams would run in from seven yards out on the next play to set up the pivotal onside kick attmept.

It only took 2:42 of game time to get the score tied after that, with Dustin Crum finding WIlliams down the near sideline on a tunnel screen for a 41-yard touchdown to put the game at 27-20, Kent State blocking a punt after forcing a three-and-out on the next Buffalo possession, and Crum finding Mike Carrigan for a five-yard score to bring the game back even.

Kent State had a perfect drive, taking up 43 yards over 2:03 and eight plays before the final kick. It included two key conversions by five-foot-six slot receiver Kavious Price, who dragged multiple Buffalo defenders to the first-down marker to gain that one extra yard after being initially contacted a yard shy on 3rd and 7, and also caught what would ultimately be the set-up play, converting 3rd and 6 with a 17-yard reception where he nearly was stood up.

The win had huge implications in the MAC, as it awarded the Miami RedHawks the MAC East divison title by taking Buffalo out of the running, and allowed Kent State to continue to fight for bowl eligibility.

The Golden Flashes will look to defend home turf once again after a BYE week against the Ball State Cardinals (4-5, 3-2 MAC) on Saturday, Nov. 23 at noon, while the Buffalo Bulls will face the Toledo Rockets (6-4, 3-3 MAC) on Wednesday., Nov. 20, at 7:30 EST.


Statistical leaders

Buffalo

  • QB Kyle Vantrease: 9-of-22, 134 yards, one touchdown; three carries, 14 yards, one touchdown
  • RB Jaret Patterson: 30 carries, 141 yards
  • RB Kevin Marks: 15 carries, 53 yards, one touchdown
  • WR Daniel Lee: four receptions, 58 yards, one touchdown
  • LB Matt Otwinowski: 10 total tackles
  • LB Malcolm Koonce: 5 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles-for-loss
  • DB Joey Banks: 7 total tackles, one interception (18-yard return)
  • PK Matt Trickett: 3-of-3 on field goals (23, 33, 44)

Kent State

  • QB Dustin Crum: 16-of-25, 165 yards, two touchdowns and an interception
  • RB Xavier Williams: 9 carries, 42 yards, one touchdown; 2 receptions, 56 yards and a touchdown
  • WR Mike Carrigan: 7 receptions, 43 yards, one touchdown
  • DB Isaac Vance: fumble recovery
  • LB Cepeda Phillips: 12 total tackles, 1 QB pressure
  • LB’s Keith Sherald Jr. and Nick Faulkner: 10 tackles each
  • DB Elvis Hines: 5 total tackles, three pass break-ups
  • PK Alex McNulty: 2-of-2 field goals (31, 31)