Kent State trailed 27-6 with under eight minutes to play.
They would score 24 unanswered points in the final eight minutes to secure a 30-27 win. They improve to 4-6, 3-3 Mid-American Conference. Buffalo drops to 5-5, 3-3 MAC.
But then a 7-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Xavier Williams cut the lead to 24-13 with 7:39 left. An onside kick ensued, as sophomore kicker Matthew Trickett boxed out Buffalo returners until the ball passed 10 yards.
“I was a little in shock because we’ve never practiced that before,” Trickett said. “Somebody hit the (Buffalo) player next to me, and I just boxed out. (At the bottom of the scrum for the ball) I had people pulling at my fingers and my arms trying to get the ball.”
Two plays later, a screen pass to Williams resulted in a 41-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 27-20 with 7:12 left.
On the following Buffalo possession, the Flashes’ defense forced their fifth punt of the game. Sophomore Jeremiah Salaam blocked the punt, and freshman Dante Cephas recovered the ball at the Buffalo 4-yard line.
On 4th-and-goal from the 5-yard line, junior quarterback Dustin Crum found senior receiver Mike Carrigan on the left sideline to make it 27-27 with 4:52 left.
The Flashes forced another three-and-out near midfield with about two minutes left. Senior defensive back Jamal Parker’s 16-yard punt return meant Kent State would start its final drive on its own 30-yard line.
On 3rd-and-7, Price was pushed by multiple players to the Kent State 40-yard line. The play extended the drive when they would have likely had to punt.
“I knew I had the opportunity to get the ball if the situation was right,” Price said. “I had an opportunity to come through for the family. I had to do what I had to do.”
Eight plays later, Crum found senior receiver Kavious Price for a 17-yard gain. He was tackled with one second left, and the Flashes used their final timeout.
Trickett’s 44-yard field goal gave Kent State the 30-27 win. The kick also gave Trickett the most made field goals in a season in school history (20), breaking Freddy Cortez’s record from 2012.
“I didn’t even know (about the record) until coming up here,” Trickett said. “I try not to keep track of that stuff because it affects my mentality.”
The 24-point fourth quarter comeback was the largest fourth quarter comeback in the FBS this season. The last time Kent State scored 24 points or more in a quarter was on Oct. 25, 2008, when they scored 28 points in the second quarter of a 54-21 win.
Buffalo took a 24-6 lead with about four minutes left in the third quarter after a drive that took more than nine minutes. They would add a field goal midway through the fourth quarter. But the Flashes would add 172 yards in the fourth quarter. Their offense totaled 112 yards on 40 plays through three quarters.
“We knew we would have to maximize our shots offensively (going into the game),” Lewis said. “We knew there were going to be some moments where we it was, ‘Hey get the capes on and get close to the heaters.’ Stay warm, stay ready and get a stop.’”
Kent State needs to win its final two games to have a chance at a bowl game.
“We believe,” Lewis said. “This ain’t the old Kent State anymore.”
Contact Ian Kreider at email@example.com