MAC Football Scoreboard: Wednesday, Sept. 19:
Kent State 23, Buffalo 7 Final Stats
Archer and Durham both run for 100 yards in Kent State's 23-7 win at Buffalo
Dri Archer and Trayion Durham proved just how devastating their combination of speed and power can be in Mid-American Conference play as Kent State opened its league scheudle with a 23-7 road win over the University at Buffalo on Wednesday night.
For the first time since 2008, the Golden Flashes (2-1) had two runners eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark in the same game. Four years after Julian Edelman and Eugene Jarvis did it in Kent State's last visit to Buffalo, Archer raced through the Bulls' defense for 127 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries while Durham bulled his way to 112 yards on 23 attempts.
Archer opened the scoring for the third time in three games, reaching the end zone from nine yards out on an end-around with 12:18 to play in the second quarter. He found the corner courtesy of a block delivered by tight end Kyle Payton.
Durham, meanwhile, provided some of his most punishing runs late in the game. According to the Kent State sophomore, running over a tired defense at the end of a long night is the job description for a big 250-pound feature back.
"I was just getting warmed up, for real," said Durham. "It was late. The game was handed to me, and it was on my back."
Even true freshman running back Julian Durden got into the act, adding some insurance with a two-yard touchdown run in the closing minute.
In all, Kent State rolled up 239 yards on the ground while averaging 4.5 yards on 53 attempts. But even those numbers weren't quite good enough for head coach Darrell Hazell.
When told that Archer and Durham both ran for 100 yards, Hazell said, "It sure didn't feel like that. I'm glad they did, but for me it didn't feel like we were gashing them the way we should have gashed them."
Hazell found more satisfaction in a defense that rebounded from an ugly effort in a loss to Kentucky 11 nights earlier.
If not for a Hail Mary, 46-yard touchdown pass from Alex Zordich to Alex Neutz on the final play of the second quarter, Kent State's defense would have pitched a shutout. That desperation throw and one other heave from midfield at the end of regulation offered Buffalo its only true scoring opportunities of the night.
With Zordich struggling to just 92 yards on 4-of-22 passing and only 30 more yards on the ground, Buffalo's offense found little punch after star running back Branden Oliver left the game with an arm injury early in the third quarter. Oliver finished with 77 yards on 16 carries.
Four forced turnovers – a pair of interceptions by Darius Polk, another pick by Luke Wollet, and a fumble forced by Roosevelt Nix and recovered by Sidney Saulter – helped Kent State offset a string of frustrating penalties and a pair of dropped interceptions. Those miscues helped Buffalo keep the game close until late in the second half.
"It was like going to the dentist on a Wednesday night," said Hazell. "Like pulling some teeth at times. Sometimes it got frustrating, but I knew the guys were trying.
"We had too many offsides penalties, but I thought we had a pretty good feel up front for how they were blocking. And I thought we were able to penetrate and get alot of guys to the ball."
Even with the 100-yard performances by Archer and Durham, Kent State's offense wasn't also not always a joy to behold. Archer dropped two throws, including one in the end zone, and two different quarterbacks found it difficult to provide the spark that has been missing in the passing game during the season's first three weeks.
Spencer Keith completed 6-of-15 for 72 yards before giving way to David Fisher in the third quarter. Fisher finished with 93 yards and an interception on 7-of-13 passing.
"I thought we were flat offensively. We needed a spark," said Hazell. "I thought they were milling around … with not much energy. If nothing else, I knew (Fisher) would bring some energy. That's why I made the call."
Several Kent State drives fizzled out deep in Buffalo territory, forcing Kent State to settle for field goals of 23, 33 and 21 yards by Freddy Cortez.
A decision on a starting quarterback for Kent State's Sept. 29 game with Ball State at Dix Stadium is still to come.
"I'm not sure at 10:40 on Wednesday night," said Hazell. "When we get back tomorrow and look at film, we'll evaluate the whole thing. We'll sit down and talk as a staff to see which direction we need to go at the quarterback situation … But in a tight ballgame with no spark, I couldn't just sit there and do the same thing we were doing."
Kent State Individual Notes:
-Junior Dri Archer had a career long 57-yard run, Kent State’s longest run of the year. Four plays later he scored his sixth touchdown of the season on an 11-yard run. Archer ran for a career-high 127 yards. Archer brought his career touchdowns total to 11.
-Sophomore Trayion Durham ran for a career-high 112 yards. Durham caught two passes for 47 yards, including a 40-yard pass in the third quarter, the longest of his career.
-Durham and Archer become the first tandem to each rush for over 100 yards in a game since Julian Edelman and Eugene Jarvis did it in 2008 at Buffalo.
-Junior Darius Polk made his second and third career interceptions and first and second of the season.
-Junior Roosevelt Nix forced a fumble for the eighth time in his career.
-Senior Freddy Cortez made his 40th, 41st and 42nd career field goals, tying Travis Mayle’s Kent State career record.
-Freshman Josh Boyle made four catches, giving him three or more grabs in all three games this season.
-Junior Luke Wollet made his eighth career interception and his sixth interception in the last 12 games.
-Senior Spencer Keith has now made eight consecutive starts without throwing an interception.
-Junior tight end Tim Erjavec made a 23-yard reception, the second longest catch of his career.
-Freshman Anthony Melchiori had three punts inside the 20, two inside the 10 and the longest punt of his career, a 47-yarder.
-Freshman Julian Durden scored his first career touchdown
Kent State Team Notes:
-Kent State ran for over 200 yards for only the second time since the midpoint of the 2009 season.
-Kent State won a road game in the month of September for the first time since 2007. The Flashes are also off to a 2-1 for the first time since 2007.
-The Golden Flashes won a conference opener for the first time since 2009.
-Dating back to 2010, Kent State has won its last three games on an ESPN network.
-The Flashes overcame 100 yards of penalties on 10 calls, including seven penalties for 70 yards in the first half.
-Kent State improved to 6-1 since last season when outgaining an opponent on the ground.
-Kent State eclipsed 400 yards of total offense for the second straight game, a feat that hadn’t occurred since the 2010 season.
-The Golden Flashes had over 35 minutes of possession time for the second time in as many games.
Story courtesy of Kent State Sports Information.