MOUNT PLEASANT, MI – The University at Buffalo football team rushed for a season-high 307 yards and three touchdowns to defeat Central Michigan, 34-24, at Kelly/Shorts Stadium on Saturday afternoon. It was UB's first-ever win at Central Michigan to improve to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in Mid-American Conference play.
UB's young running backs led the way. Redshirt-freshman Kevin Marks rushed for a career-high 167 yards and a touchdown. It was the second-most rushing yards by a UB freshman in the Bulls' FBS era behind Marquis Dwarte's 173 yards against Akron in 2000. Freshman Jaret Patterson also rushed for a career high with 121 yards and a score.
"I think the thing that is really impressive is that when you have two young backs that are breaking tackles and getting yards after contact, it's pretty special, head coach Lance Leipold said."
While the running game paced the offense, the defense was led by its defensive backfield. The Bulls had a season-best four interceptions in the game. Brandon Williams, Cameron Lewis, Joey Banks and Aapri Washington all recorded interceptions in the game.
After Central Michigan kicked a field goal on its first possession, the Bulls drove right down the field and scored a touchdown on their first possession when Tyree Jackson found Tyler Mabry on a 6-yard touchdown pass. The Bulls would never trail again.
Midway through the second quarter, Jackson scored on a five-yard run to extend the UB lead to 14-3. Adam Mitcheson drilled a 26-yard field goal to give the Bulls a 17-3 lead at the half.
Central Michigan scored on its first drive of the second half to cut the UB lead to 17-10. However, Marks quickly silenced the Chippewas faithful, when, on the first play of Buffalo's ensuing drive, he ripped of a 70-yard touchdown run to regain a 14-point advantage for the Bulls.
Late in the third quarter, Central Michigan scored again to cut the UB advantage to 24-17. But, following a Lewis interception, Patterson rumbled in from 14 yards out to make it 31-17 early in the fourth quarter and silence the Chippewa threat.
The Bulls rolled up 434 yards of total offense. With the running game working so effectively, Jackson only needed to attempt 20 passes and threw for 127 yards and a score.
"We've been through enough close games," Leipold said. "I think our upperclassmen and our leaders have understood that's the way this conference is and you're going to have to play 60 minutes or 60 minutes-plus each and every Saturday. You've got to be able to keep going and our guys have really embraced that."
At 5-1, the Bulls are off to their best start since 1996 and their first 2-0 start to MAC play since the 2013 campaign. Buffalo will return home next Saturday to host Akron at UB Stadium. Kickoff is slated for noon.