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2021 Mid-American Conference Football Week 1 Game Recap: Buffalo 69, Wagner 7

The Maurice Linguist era gets off to a near-perfect start on a Thursday night in Buffalo.

NCAA Football: Camellia Bowl-Marshall vs Buffalo Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

It was a hellacious start to the Maurice Linguist era of Buffalo Bulls football, as the Bulls (1-0) got the better of the Wagner Seahawks (0-1) in both school’s respective season openers at Alumni Stadium in Buffalo, New York, with the homestanding Bulls taking home an emphatic 69-7 win.

The Bulls went a perfect 11-of-11 on scoring opportunities, knocking in nine touchdowns and two field goals en route to victory. Their final possession, taken with 4:36 remaining, ran down the clock to end the game, with a 63-point win assured hours prior.

The game started off with a bang, as Buffalo struck on the second play from scrimmage to go up 7-0 on a 63-yard strike from Kyle Vantrease to Jovany Ruiz. (Aside: this play would mark the first touchdown of the Mid-American Conference football season.) It was a lead that was ultimately never relinquished.

Buffalo would score three straight rushing touchdowns over the first and second quarters, with Kevin Marks (nine-yard rush), Jake Molinich (one-yard rush) and Dylan McDuffie (12-rush) before getting interrupted by an Alex McNulty field goal from 35 yards out with about six minutes remaining in the first half. Buffalo found the scoreboard one more time with six seconds remaining, as Ron Cook scored from six yards out to cap a 10-play, 99 yard drive which took 2:08 off the clock.

The onslaught continued after the break, with Kevin Marks (three-yard rush) scoring at the 9:31 mark of the third quarter, followed up by the second passing touchdown of the day, this time by Marlyn Johnson on a 26-yard pass from backup QB Matt Myers just two minutes later. Dylan McDuffie’s two-yard run concluded the third quarter scoring for Buffalo.

Jackson Balthar scored the last uninterrupted Buffalo opportunity, with a field goal from 33 yards out. The shutout was finally broken with a LeShane Taylor run from four yards out to put Wagner on the scoreboard with 10:26 remaining in the game. Buffalo would add on a touchdown from reserve back Tahjay Ahmed from six yards out with 6:48 remaining to bring the score to its final tally.

Kevin Marks looked good in his first game as a feature back, with 13 carries for 72 yards and two touchdowns on the day, with fellow back Ron Cook pacing the backs with 14 carries for 94 yards and one touchdown. Mike Washington also picked up a good bunch of carries, finishing the day with 13 carries for 65 yards.

Kyle Vantrease also looked as effective as ever, going 15-of-19 for 231 yards and that first touchdown, with no interceptions. Matt Myers went 1-of-3, with the one completion going for a 26-yard score.

Quian Williams, the former Eastern Michigan receiver, made a good impression on his new fanbase, leading the receiving corps with five receptions for 96 yards, just four yards short of the century mark. Ruiz had three catches for 76 yards and one score, and seven other Bulls all had at least one or more catches on the box score.

The defense also had a great showing despite not forcing a turnover, allowing only 97 total yards for Wagner, including an incredible 65 yards of tackles-for-loss, and picking up five sacks for 34 yards. Buffalo also held Wagner to 2-of-13 on third-down attempts and forced 10 punts on the day for a net average of 35.7 yards.

Taylor Riggins paced the Buffalo defense on the day, with six tackles, two tackles-for-loss and two sacks on the day. James Patterson and Daishon Folsom both collected five total tackles as well, with Folsom also nabbing 1.5 tackles-for-loss and a sack. George Wolo recorded a solo sack, while Kadofi Wright and Max Michel each collected a half-sack. Shaun Dolac (1.5 tackles-for-loss), as well as Daymond Williams and Caleb Tate (one tackle-for-loss each) also contributed on the day.

Buffalo, fresh off Thursday’s win, will next face the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday, Sept. 11. The game will air at 3:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.