Oliver among those injured during University at Buffalo loss to Kent State
After the halftime break, Oliver came out of the locker room dressed in street clothes, sidelined with what the Bulls only specified as a "leg injury." The team did not offer details regarding the extent of the injury, only stating that he will be evaluated Thursday.
In desperate need of a spark, after five punts and Oliver’s fumble, Bulls quarterback Alex Zordich rolled right and heaved the ball toward a pile of humanity – five defenders and four receivers – waiting 50 yards north, near the end zone. Incredibly, it ended up in the hands of his favorite target, Alex Neutz, whose well-timed jump resulted in a 46-yard touchdown as the first-half clock expired, narrowing the Kent State lead to 10-7.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, news of Oliver’s injury coincided with the SportsCenter-worthy play.
“It was confirmed at half time that he [Oliver] wasn’t going to be able to play in the second half,” said Bulls head coach Jeff Quinn. “That [last play of the first half] was a tremendous lift; it brought us to within a one-possession game. But we could not muster up enough rhythm and flow in our offense.”
Much of the lack of rhythm that Quinn mentioned circles back to Zordich, who finished 4-for-22 for 92 yards with two interceptions. In his two previous starts, Zordich combined to complete 30 of his 45 passing attempts for 385 yards with five touchdowns and one interception.
“Just a bad day, all around,” Zordich admitted. “Individually, this team needs more from me and I put that on my shoulders. I expect more from myself.”
Zordich and Oliver aside, another challenge facing the Bulls was that of an opposing running back duo that combined for 240 rushing yards.
Dri Archer – a speedster, who also presents a threat as a receiver – broke the scoreless tie with an 11-yard touchdown run, less than 3 minutes into the second quarter, giving Kent State a lead it would maintain for the duration. Archer finished the contest with a game-high 127 rushing yards – including a 57-yard gain to setup the first touchdown – on 14 carries. Trayion Durham, a bruising runner at 6 feet tall and 250 pounds, carried the ball 23 times for 113 yards.
“They’re good players and played a good game,” said Bulls cornerback Najja Johnson.
With the loss, the Bulls fall to 1-2, 0-1. The Golden Flashes were the Bulls' first Mid-American Conference opponent of the year.
Bulls defensive end Steven Means and wide receiver Fred Lee were also held out of the second half with unspecified injuries.
Freelance sportswriter Charles Roberts covers the NFL and the University at Buffalo football program for MetroWNY.com. Reach him at CharlesHRoberts@yahoo.com or twitter.com/cHartleyRoberts.