As the Kent State Golden Flashes prepare to meet the Buffalo Bulls Wednesday night at UB Stadium, the game has Yogi Berra-moment feel to it. One might picture a like-minded football coach telling his players, “Men, it takes a four letter word to win today’s game…PRIDE.”
For the second consecutive week, Kent State went toe-to-tie with a division leader. Last week it was Bowling Green in a tight game until the end as the Falcons pulled away in the second. The decision gave Bowling Green a MAC East title and sent the Flashes to a third straight loss that kept KSU winless in conference play.
In its final road test of 2014, KSU meets a Buffalo team that released its head coach in mid-season and then went winless until dominating Akron at home last week.
LAST TIME OUT:
November 12th losing at Bowling Green 30-20. For the second consecutive game, the Golden Flashes faced a division leader and gave them a tussle for most of the contest before the Falcons pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Like the previous week against Toledo, the Flashes fell behind early; this time it was 17-0 after the first quarter and it looked like the beginning of a rout.
KSU, however, used a pair of touchdown passes by sophomore QB Colin Reardon to senior WR Chris Humphrey to close the gap. In the fourth quarter the Flashes moved to within three when Reardon, who threw for 284 yards, connected on his third touchdown pass of the game -- a 14-yarder for senior TE Casey Pierce. KSU went for two and failed.
On the next drive, BGSU sealed the contest and the MAC East title with a 2-yard touchdown run by Andre Givens.
Reardon completed 24-of-37 passes on the night. He also threw four interceptions to go with three touchdown strikes
Sophomore RB Nick Holley had 21 rushing yards while Pierce (12 for 127) and Humphrey (8 for 132). Both surpassed 100 receiving yards.
Defensively, sophomore Nate Holley again led KSU in tackles with 17 total (eight solo). Jordan Italiano had 16 total stops (nine solo), along with an interception and a forced fumble. He was named MAC East Defensive Player of the Week
ON THE YEAR:
Offensively, KSU is averaging 15.3 points and 306 yards per game. QB Colin Reardon is the leader of the offense, and he has completed 56.3 percent of his passes (200-of-355) for 2,168 yards with 12 touchdowns and 15 interceptions…Sophomore RB Nick Holley leads the ground attack with 421 yards on 111 carries. Senior TE Casey Pierce leads the receivers with 54 receptions for 560 yards and five touchdowns (KSU has two receivers with at least 40 receptions, five with at least 20, and seven with at least 10).
The defense is led by sophomore DB Nate Holley. He also leads the MAC with 127 total tackles (71 solo).
The special teams are handled by junior Anthony Melchiori, who does both the punting and place kicking. He leads the MAC in punting with a 44.2 yard average per kick…In addition, he is 10-of-16 on field goals and 13-of-15 on PATs.
Kent State is 1-9 overall, 0-5 on the road. (Its last win away was the 2013 season finale at Ohio. The Flashes went winless in their first six games this season for the first time since 1998 (0-3 on the road)… They opened the 2014 campaign at home, coming back from a 14-7 deficit to tie Ohio 14-14 with 3:34 remaining, but the Bobcats hit a 44-yard field goal on the final play of the game for a 17-14 win. It was the closest the Flashes came to a victory until their October 18 win over Army, 39-17.
After their meeting with the Bulls, the Flashes complete the 2014 season next Tuesday night at home facing arch-rival Akron in the battle for the Wagon Wheel trophy.
NOTES & QUOTES:
QB Colin Reardon has moved into sixth place on the all-time career completions list with 386, into sixth on the career passing yards list with 4,125 and tied for seventh in career touchdown passes with 24...The offensive line has allowed Reardon to be sacked only once in the last six games…WR Chris Humphrey moved into fifth place on the all-time receptions list with 119…Nate Holley is third in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 12.7 total tackles per game and fourth in solo stops at 7.1 per contest…sophomore Elcee Refuge had a career high 12 total tackles and a forced fumble against the Falcons
The game is the 11th meeting between the two schools, with the series deadlocked at 10-10. The Bulls have won two of the last three encounters, including last year at Dix Stadium, 41-21, as RB Branden Oliver carried the ball 31 times for 185 yards and scored four touchdowns.
QB Joe Licata passed for 285 yards while LB Khalil Mack led the defense with 10 total tackles (eight solo). KSU was led by Trayion Durham, who rushed for 57 yards an a touchdown, QB Colin Reardon passed for 260 yards and a score while RB Dri Archer had a 17-yard touchdown run. The defense was led by DB Jordan Italiano with 10 total tackles (seven solo)…This is the 10th meeting in Western New York, with the Flashes holding a narrow 5-4 edge
BUFFALO BULLS (4-6, 2-4 MAC EAST)
LAST TIME OUT:
November 12th defeating Akron 55-24 at home. The Bulls picked up their first win for interim head coach Alex Wood. Buffalo fell behind just 23 seconds into the game when the Zips intercepted a Joe Licata pass and returned it for a touchdown. From that point on, however, it was a Blue and White scoring fest.
UB registered a season high 55 points and gained 536 yards of total offense. Of that total, 310 of that came oin the ground. Both Anthone Taylor (178) and Jordan Johnson (104) each ran for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Licata completed 16-of-21 passes for 193 yards and four scores. WR Ron Willoughby caught six of those for 95 yards and a score, while the defense was led by Adam Redden with nine total tackles (eight solo) a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
ON THE YEAR:
In their 10 games of 2014, UB is averaging 31.4 points and 427.2 yards per game offensively. The running game is led by Taylor, who has rushed for 1,243 (one of three running backs in the MAC to gain over 1,000 yards. He is second overall to Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin).
Licata is at the controls of the Bulls attack as he has completed 64.1 percent of his passes (204 of 318) for 2,392 yards with 25 touchdowns (leading the MAC) and 11 interceptions.
WR Ron Willoughby leads receivers with 45 catches for 681 yards and eight touchdowns (third in the MAC.
The defense is led by Lee Skinner with 86 total tackles (41 solo). Adam Redden leads in both sacks with six and tackles for losses with 14.
The special teams are headed by P Tyler Grassman, who has averaged 40.4 yards per kick and PK Patrick Clarke. He is 6-for-13 on field goals and 36-for-38 on PATs.
Buffalo is 4-6 (2-4 in MAC play and 4-2 at home). UB opened the season with a win over FCS member -- at Army and to nationally-ranked Baylor at home before a national television audience.
The Bulls opened MAC play with a home win over Miami, along with a victory against another FCS team in Norfolk State. UB then lost a one-point affair at Bowling Green, 36-35. The Bulls squandered a 27-9 lead at Eastern Michigan, losing to the Eagles, 37-27. Head coach Jeff Quinn was then fired and replaced by offensive coordinator Alex Wood.
UB ends the season the day after Thanksgiving as it heads to Foxboro to battle Massachusetts and talented quarterback Blake Frohnapfel.
NOTES & QUOTES:
Interim head coach Alex Wood is a native of Massillon, Ohio and went to Washington High School. He was previously a head coach at James Madison, leading the Dukes to a 23-22 mark and a berth in the Division I-AA Playoffs. Woods has MAC experience at Kent State in 1979 and 1980 under Ron Blackledge and at Miami in 2010. He also possesses NFL experience with the Minnesota Vikings and the Arizona Cardinals…QB Joe Licata is the only quarterback in the MAC to throw at least one touchdown pass in every game so far this season…Licata has tied the school record for career touchdown passes with 52, sharing the mark right now with Drew Willy…RB Anthone Taylor is the third UB rusher to reach that mark since the school joined the Football Bowl Subdivision (the others are James Starks-Green Bay Packers) & Branden Oliver (San Diego Chargers). Taylor's 1,166 yards moved him past O.D. Underwood for the fourth best single-season mark in school history…UB is 11-2 in their last 13 games at home.