BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo struggled to get its offense going and dropped a primetime matchup with division-foe Kent State, 23-7, at UB Stadium on Wednesday night.
Injuries to key players were a huge factor in the game as All-MAC running back Branden Oliver as well as starting defensive end Steven Means and starting wide receiver Fred Lee were lost for the game with first-half injuries.
After two games of producing eye-popping offensive numbers, the Bulls struggled to get their offense going all night. Buffalo was held to a season-low 267 yards of total offense.
"It was a disappointed loss and very frustrating. I'm very aggravated," head coach Jeff Quinn said. "I expected us to play a lot better, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Give Kent State credit, they came in here and won a football game."
Kent State (2-1, 1-0 MAC) struck first with a Dri Archer 11-yard run early in the second quarter to give the Golden Flashes a 7-0 lead. The touchdown was set up by a 57-yard run by the speedy Archer who finished with 127 yards on 14 carries.
Kent State added a 23-yard field goal with 5:51 left in the half to take a 10-0 lead. Kent State looked in control and as if they would take that 10-point lead to the locker room until Buffalo's final play of the half. Alex Zordich connected with Alex Neutz on a 46-yard Hail Mary pass, as time expired, to cut the Kent State lead to 10-7 at the break.
Buffalo stepped up its defensive effort in the second half and kept the score at 13-7 until the fourth quarter. The Bulls just couldn't get anything going on offense. Having an injured Oliver on the sideline didn't help. The junior running back rushed for 77 yards in the first half before exiting the game. Junior Brandon Murie and true freshman Devin Campbell filled in admirably. Murie had nine rushes for 37 yards, while Campbell rushed for 27 yards on five carries.
The Bulls' defensive effort was led by Khalil Mack. The junior linebacker was the best defensive player on the field for either team. He finished with a career-high 12 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks and a pass breakup.
Mack now has 7.5 tackles for loss through two games and has moved into second place in school history with 42.5 career TFLs.
Another defensive highlight came from Najja Johnson who had his first career interception in the fourth quarter.
Buffalo will next play the first of three straight road games on Sept. 29 at Connecticut.