Oliver breaks record as Bulls get fifth straight win
Joe Konze Jr Reporting
Coming into this weekend’s game against UMass (1-6, 1-2 Mid-American Conference) all Branden Oliver needed was 151 yards to surpass former UB running back James Starks as the programs all-time leading rusher.
For six years, Starks’ name stood atop that list.
And in those years, it was a goal for senior running back Branden Oliver to beat out his former teammate.
On Saturday afternoon, Oliver surpassed Starks carrying the ball 43 times for 216 yards and a touchdown as the Bulls (5-2, 3-0 MAC) defeated the Minutemen 32-3 giving them their first five-game winning streak since 2008 and their first 3-0 conference record in school history.
“To break James Starks record is very significant to our program, what a talented football player [he] is and what he meant to this program,” said head coach Jeff Quinn. “And certainly I know for Branden and his entire team you know it’s a great accomplishment.”
His 43 carries set a new school record for carries in a game last set by Odie Underwood.
After going up 3-0 on a 44-yard field goal by junior Patrick Clarke, Buffalo scored its first touchdown of the game on a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior linebacker Khalil Mack.
Mack, who finished the game with two tackles a sack and an interception, has two interceptions returned for a touchdown this season. His last was against Ohio State on Aug., 31.
“I don’t know how I got in that position,” Mack said. “I thought about Bo and gave him a little stiff arm and cut it back. Thankfully Jake Stockman was there to cut [off the defender].”
The Buffalo defense, who hasn’t given up a touchdown in two weeks, stymied the Minutemen periodically throughout the game, holding them to 247 yards of total offense and forced three turnovers.
“As I tell [the guys] each week to do your job relative to your responsibility and relative to this football team and the outcome of the game,” said head coach Jeff Quinn. “And we have more guys that are being responsible. That’s what I appreciate is this program has a lot of guys in that locker room that care deeply.”
Sophomore quarterback Joe Licata continued his streak of touchdown passes this season finding senior Fred Lee on a 7-yard touchdown pass with 13:29 left in the fourth quarter.
The touchdown put the game out of reach for the Minutemen.
“It’s awesome, we’re winning,” Lee said. “And that’s the thing. Four years of grinding it out, working hard. The fact that I’m contributing it means a lot that’s what we worked for.”
Senior receiver Alex Neutz and junior lineman Jasen Carlson suffered injuries during the game back-to-back in the second quarter.
Carlson will miss the rest of the season with a leg injury while Neutz suffered a concussion and his status for next Saturday is uncertain.
The Bulls will head to Kent, Ohio to take on Kent State (2-6, 1-3 MAC). It will be their first test against a potent MAC opponent.