Golden Flashes win MAC opener on the road


Kent State quarterback #7 David Fisher tries to avoid being sacked by Buffalo defender #46 Khalil Mack. Photo by David Dermer.

Tim Dorst

Kent State’s two-headed running attack has powered its offense for most of the season so far.

Wednesday night in Buffalo, NY., “Thunder” and “Lightning” struck in full force.

Junior Dri Archer and sophomore Trayion Durham combined for 239 rushing yards —

propelling the Flashes to a 23-7 victory over the Buffalo Bulls in UB Stadium.

Both Archer and Durham set career-high numbers on the ground, with 127 yards and 112 yards

respectively. The effectiveness of the Flashes’ running game kept Buffalo off-balance and helped

the Flashes capture the win in the Mid-American Conference opener.

Kent State’s defense, which struggled in the game against Kentucky, made its presence felt

early in the first quarter. The Flashes put pressure on the Bulls and held their biggest offensive

weapon, running back Branden Oliver, in check for most of the game. Kent State has yet to allow

a score in the first quarter through the first three games.

In the second quarter, the Flashes’ offense came alive as Archer burst through the left side and

sprinted 57 yards down to the Buffalo 23 yard line. Three plays later, Archer got the ball on an

end-around play and ran toward the Bulls’ goal line before being ruled out of bounds at the one-

yard line.

Head coach Darrell Hazell challenged the ruling on the field, and the review showed Archer

stayed in bounds and crossed the goal line for an 11-yard touchdown. Archer’s fifth score of the

season gave the Flashes a 7-0 lead.

On Buffalo’s next drive, senior lineman Roosevelt Nix stripped the ball away from Bulls’

running back Branden Oliver. Senior cornerback Sidney Saulter recovered the ball for the

Flashes. Kent State punted on the following drive.

After its defense forced a three-and-out, the Flashes drove the ball inside the Bulls’ five-yard

line, setting up senior kicker Freddy Cortez for a 23-yard field goal attempt. The kick was good,

and Kent State led 10-0 with 5:51 to play in the first half.

Later in the second quarter, junior safety Luke Wollet intercepted a pass from Bulls quarterback

Alex Zordich, giving the Flashes an opportunity to score. However, the offense’s drive stalled,

and Cortez missed a 49-yard field goal attempt wide left.

Buffalo’s offense was mostly ineffective until the final play of the first half. With the ball on

the Flashes’ 46-yard line, Zordich launched a pass downfield. Junior receiver Alex Neutz made

a leaping catch and ran in for a score. The touchdown put the Bulls in striking distance as they

went into halftime down 10-7.

The Bulls received bad news as the second half began when Oliver was taken out of the game

with a knee injury. Without its number one option on offense, Buffalo struggled offensively as a


On Kent State’s second drive in the third quarter, junior quarterback David Fisher came in to

replace senior Spencer Keith and drove the Flashes into scoring range with a 41-yard screen pass

to Durham. Cortez’s 33-yard field goal extended the lead the Flashes’ lead to 13-7.

Defensively, Kent State continued its pressure on the quarterback and forced Zordich to throw an

interception to junior cornerback Darius Polk. Despite a 23-yard pass play from Fisher to junior

tight end Tim Erjavec on the following drive, the Flashes were eventually forced to punt.

In the fourth quarter, Fisher led the Flashes on another strong drive, moving the ball to the

Buffalo three-yard line and allowing Cortez to kick his third field goal of the night. Kent State

led 16-7 with 9:54 to go in the game.

The Flashes defense forced two more Buffalo turnovers in the fourth. The Bulls turned the ball

over on downs with just more than eight minutes to go. Second-string quarterback Joe Licata was

also picked off by Polk.

With less than a minute left in the game and the ball on the Bulls’ two-yard line, freshman

running back Julian Durden rushed the ball up the middle for his first career touchdown, capping

off a Kent State victory.

Kent State improves its record to 2-1 this season. The Flashes return home to take on Ball State

in a MAC matchup at Dix Stadium on Sept. 29.

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].