The Buffalo Bulls (4-4, 2-2 MAC) continued their march to keep pace in the MAC East divisional race on Saturday afternoon, taking down an outmatched Akron (2-6, 1-3 MAC) 45-10 on the road.
The contest wasn’t particularly close, with Buffalo topping Akron in total yards (484 to 304), time of possession (31 minutes to 28 minutes), turnover margin (one turnover to four turnovers), first downs (25 to 17) and penalties (2-20 to 5-45) on the day.
The game started with an Akron punt on the first series, with Buffalo turning the ball back over on downs inside the Akron 37 on the next possession. Disaster struck for the Zips after an exchange of punts, as DJ Irons was sacked and turned the ball over on first-and-10 from the Zips 37 to give the Bulls the ball at the Zips 7. Buffalo turned the free ball into a field goal, mounting a 3-0 lead with 2:59 remaining in the first quarter.
After another Akron three-and-out, Buffalo took the ball and cashed it in for a two-yard Dylan McDuffie touchdown run to push the lead to 10-0. Akron would put together their best drive of the night in response, pulling together a 14-play, 57 yard drive to set up a 35-yard Corey Smigel field goal to get the Zips on the board, trailing 10-3 with 6:57 remaining in the first half.
The touchdowns would explode like popcorn kernels from there. Buffalo QB Kyle Vantrease picking up a two-yard touchdown rush to cap off an eight-play, 75-yard drive to put Buffalo up 17-3, only for Akron HB Jonzell Norris to score on a 74-yard run on the first play from scrimmage to get the Zips back within a score at 17-10. Buffalo slowed down the game pace with an 11-play, 75-yard drive taking up 3:18, resulting in Vantrease finding WR Jabari Gossett for a 15-yard touchdown reception to put Buffalo back up to a two-score lead at 24-10.
It was a lead which was ultimately never relinquished, as Buffalo scored three times in just over five minutes coming out of the half, with a Dominic Johnson touchdown reception from seven yards out, a Jake Molinich one-yard reception and a Dylan McDuffie four-yard reception all coming in a row.
Neither team would go on to score again, leaving the final margin at 45-10.
Kyle Vantrease, wearing the memorial #41 for Buffalo this week, finished the day 15-of-20 for 241 yards and three touchdowns, to pair with his four carries for 25 yards and a score on the ground. Dylan McDuffie led the rushing effort for the Bulls, with 23 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown and also had a receiving score. Mike Washington (10 carries, 44 yards) and Ron Cook Jr. (nine carries, 37 yards) also contributed to the run game. On the receiving end, Jamari Gasssett led the effort with four receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown, while Dominic Johnson finished with three receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown alongside.
Defensively, EJ Tucker led the Bulls with eight total tackles and .5 tackles-for-loss, with Marcus Fuqua (seven tackles) and Shaun Dolac (six tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks) directly behind. The Bulls picked up 14 tackles-for-loss, 11 sacks and three forced fumbles (with recoveries from Kyler Laing and Max Michel) collectively, with Laing leading the way with 3.5 sacks/tackles-for-loss. Kadofi Wright picked up the lone interception of the day.
Akron quarterback DJ Irons returned to the starting lineup after recovering from an injury suffered earlier in the season, finishing 5-of-13 for 66 yards, one touchdown and an interception through the air, as well as 25 carries for 111 yards gained (54 net accounting for sacks.) Last week’s starter, Zach Wilson, had 2-of-6 passing for nine yards in relief.
HB Jonzell Norris led all skill position players in total yards, rushing 11 times for 155 yards and the Zips’ lone touchdown of the day. Breakout receiver Konata Mumpfield was limited to just three receptions for 36 yards, leading the Zips attack.
It was a day to forget about for the Zips on the defensive side of the ball, giving up six touchdowns on the day, with several on short fields. Jaylen Kelly-Powell (16 total tackles), Andrew Behm (14 tackles) and Jeslord Boateng (11 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss) found themselves in the double digits to lead all defenders. Defensive back Randy Cocharan Jr. (six tackles) picked up Akron’s lone turnover of the day on a fumble recovery.
The Bulls will go back to familiar confines when they face Bowling Green on Saturday, Oct. 30 at noon Eastern time, while the Zips will stay home for a rest week before taking on Ball State on Tuesday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. Eastern time.