The running of the Bulls: Kent State dominated by Buffalo on the ground

Dustin Crum (7) lets a a pass go against Buffalo. Crum would throw for 343 yards and three touchdowns. Nov. 28, 2020.

On the very first play from scrimmage, University at Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson slashed through the Kent State defense for a 62-yard gain. Patterson was tackled at the three yard line, but would score on the next play.

That first drive was just the beginning of a career day for Patterson, who would torch the Flashes for a NCAA record-tying eight touchdowns and Mid-American Conference record 409 yards (just 18 yards short of the FBS record).

Kent State would lose 70-41 on the road, snapping a seven-game, year-long win streak for the Flashes which began last season against Buffalo.

Coach Sean Lewis had been confident earlier this week in his team’s plan to stop the Bulls’ prolific run attack, and he took accountability for the failure to do so.

“We have to continue to go back and make sure we are getting personnel in the right spots,” Lewis said. “I have to do a good job of making sure we’ve got guys close to the football that need to be close to the football, and then I need to do a better job making sure that we’ve got the proper pieces in place.” 

The Buffalo offensive line is one of the best in the MAC, and the Bulls’ large sets, with multiple tight ends and running backs, bowled over Kent State’s outnumbered and outsized defensive front.

Buffalo backup running back Kevin Marks, Jr. added two touchdowns and 97 yards of his own to bring his team up to 10 touchdowns on the ground.

The Kent State defense would register only one tackle-for-loss over the course of the game, with senior Jabbar Price dropping Patterson for a one-yard loss in the fourth quarter.

Price was assisted on that tackle by junior Zayin West, who led Kent State with 12 total tackles.

Despite Buffalo’s rapid scoring on the ground, Kent State’s offense still saw much of its usual production, totaling 579 yards of total offense.

The Flashes’ offense — led by senior quarterback Dustin Crum who had 343 passing yards, three touchdowns, one interception, 79 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown — kept Kent State in the game.

“(Our offense) feels like they can score at any point on the field and at any moment in time,” Lewis said. “So they never feel like they are out of it. And for the most part a lot of guys continued to battle to the very end.”

Crum’s connection down the field with junior Isaiah McKoy was on full display, with McKoy gaining 137 yards and a touchdown on just five receptions and drawing pass interference calls throughout the day.

Fellow receiver JaShaun Poke, a sophomore, has continued to emerge across from McKoy, leading the team with seven receptions totaling 124 yards.

The offense did have some key mistakes that kept it from keeping pace with Buffalo. The team repeatedly had gains called back for penalties on the offensive line, and Lewis talked about a costly call on fourth and one late in the first half.

The Flashes were well within field goal range for junior Matthew Trickett, but elected to throw for the first down and the attempt failed.

“I think I probably mismanaged that situation,” Lewis said. “Hindsight being 20/20 (I should have) take the points there. It falls directly into my lap as head coach of this program and I need to be better in that situation.”

This loss could cost Kent State a trip to the MAC Championship Game, as Buffalo now sits alone atop the MAC East at 4-0, with Kent State in second at 3-1.

Buffalo has been one of the most dominant teams in the MAC East division for years, and Lewis said though this loss hurt, it was a learning experience against a solid team and would not shake the Flashes’ confident and aggressive playstyle.

“There is a lot we have got to get cleaned up, but changing our demeanor to where our kids are playing back on their heels and not being aggressive and playing downhill, that is one that we’re not going to change,” Lewis said.

Owen MacMillan is a sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].


Hi, I’m Lauren Sasala, a senior journalism student from Toledo. I’m also the editor in chief of The Kent Stater and KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important news about Kent State and the Kent community. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate