BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo football team used its finest defensive effort of the season to defeat Akron, 24-6, at UB Stadium on Saturday afternoon in front of a homecoming crowd of nearly 20,000. It was the Bulls' sixth win of the season, making them bowl eligible for just the fourth time in program history.
Buffalo allowed only 235 yards of total offense, its lowest total allowed since allowing 223 yards against Colgate in last season's home opener. The Bulls held their opponent out of the endzone for the first time since the 2013 campaign.
"I'm really proud of our groups," head coach Lance Leipold said. "Our defensive effort I thought was outstanding, keeping them out of the end zone. Especially as you get to this point in the year when you're starting to get banged up in some spots. You're starting to see different guys at different times. Last week we had some guards step in. You saw a lot of those guys today. You're seeing the young freshmen and I think that's important because it wasn't the cleanest of first halves obviously, and for us to work through that, I don't know if we could have done that two years ago."
The Bulls got off to a bit of a sluggish start and trailed, 3-0, midway through the first quarter. Late in the first quarter, Tyree Jackson, who wore #41 in the game in honor of Solomon Jackson, rolled to his right and found George Rushing for a 17-yard touchdown pass to give the Bulls the lead for good, 7-3.
Adam Mitcheson kicked a 30-yard field goal midway through the second quarter to extend the UB lead to 10-3. An Akron field goal, as time expired before halftime, cut the UB advantage to 10-6, but that would be all the points the Zips would get.
The Bulls seemed to get the ground game rolling in the second half and Jaret Patterson played a big part. The freshman running back rushed for 54 of his game-high 91 yards in the third quarter and his 4-yard touchdown run gave the Bulls a 17-6 lead with 1:56 left in the third quarter.
The UB defense ratcheted up the pressure in the second half and did so with the help of reserve Taylor Riggins. The sophomore defensive end had back-to-back sacks and, on Akron's next drive, his quarterback hurry led to a Jordan Collier interception. The Bulls capitalized on their next drive when Jackson scored on a quarterback sneak to extend the UB lead to 24-6.
Khalil Hodge led the Bulls with 12 tackles and had 1.5 of the Bulls' seven tackles for loss in the game. Along with his interception, Collier added three tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. The Bulls also forced four fumbles in the game and had five pass breakups.
The Bulls had a balanced offensive attack, rushing for 223 yards and passing for 212 more. Jackson threw for 212 yards and a touchdown. He also did damage with his legs, rushing for a season-high 57 yards and a score. Patterson rushed for 91 yards on 17 carries and Kevin Marks, making his first career start, finished with 64 yards on 15 tries.
K.J. Osborn posted his second 100-yard receiving game of the season with 116 yards on six catches. Anthony Johnson was back in the lineup after missing most of the last two games with an injury and had a pair of catches for 44 yards, including a spectacular one-handed grab for 28 yards.
The Bulls are 6-1 for the first time since the 1959 season. They will next play at Toledo next Saturday at noon.