Jackson throws 3 TDs, Buffalo still unbeaten, beats Rutgers
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers has become the latest team to find out just how good Buffalo and quarterback Tyree Jackson are.
Jackson threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns and the Bulls used their big-play offense to remain unbeaten and roll over the reeling Scarlet Knights 42-13 Saturday.
The win was Buffalo’s first over a Big Ten Conference opponent and pushed its record to 4-0. It’s the best start for the Mid-American Conference team since 1981 and it also extended its winning streak to seven straight games dating to last season.
What’s even more impressive is the Bulls have not won more than eight games since joining the FBS ranks in 1999. That number likely will shattered if they continue to play the same way.
“It’s nice to see that the work that these guys have done and the tough times that they’ve been through — the upper classmen — to see them start having it pay off for them,” coach Lance Leipold said. “We have a long ways to go this season, but awful proud of where they are right now, but have a huge challenge ahead next week at home against Army.”
Rutgers might face a bigger challenge in trying to right the ship. The loss was the third straight blowout setback for the Scarlet Knights (1-3), who have given up given up 149 points in those games.
“It’s tough and it’s frustrating, absolutely,” senior quarterback Gio Rescigno said of trying to remain optimistic. “But we have a really strong locker room. We have built a strong relationship with all of the guys. We believe in the coaches and I think at the end of the day we’re going to be all right.”
Jackson’s scoring passes covered 42 yards to Anthony Johnson, 53 to Charlie Jones and 9 to Tyler Mabry. He also threw a 59-yard rope to Johnson while rolling right to set up a 1-yard run by Kevin Marks. Jackson finished 14 of 28 with two interceptions.
“It’s definitely a blessing, but we have to flush this behind us,” Jackson, who has 15 TD passes this season. “It’s a good win for the team, but we have to focus on Army.”
Freshman Jaret Patterson also scored on runs of 42 and 4 yards for the Bulls, who gained 376 yards in total offense in the first half in building a 35-6 lead. He gained 104 yards on 14 carries.
Justin Davidovicz kicked two first-half field goals and Raheem Blackshear scored on a 14-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
Rutgers had its chances early. Davidovicz hit a 31-yard field goal on the Scarlet Knights’ opening series and Isaiah Wharton picked off a tipped Jackson pass on the next series. Rutgers couldn’t cash in on the turnover, and the big-armed Jackson took over, putting Buffalo on the board with a pinpoint, rainbow-pass to Johnson running down the sideline.
“It was a big momentum shift,” said Johnson, who did not play in the second half after tweaking a hamstring. “That big catch for the touchdown, it got the offense going pretty well.”
Patterson’s 42-yard run pushed the lead to 14-3 and, after Davidovicz hit from 34, Jackson made his NFL-worthy rollout toss to Johnson to set up Marks’ touchdown for a 21-6 lead. The Scarlet Knights never got close again as Jackson added two more TD passes before halftime.
“It’s not where we wanted to be. It’s where we’re at,” Rutgers coach Chris Ash said of the current skid. “We’ve just got to keep working. Again, there’s no magic formula guys, you’ve just got to keep working, got to keep practicing and somehow do it better and again, it’s a process and it’s a painful one right now. Nobody wanted to be here at this spot, and we are, so we’ve got to deal with it.”
Buffalo: This team should be the favorite to win the MAC. The offense is potent and no one has sacked the 6-foot-7, 245-pound Jackson in four games. The defense is not as good but the Bulls can put up points to overcome that. They have scored at least 35 points in every game.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights might not win another game this season. Coach Chris Ash probably will change his starting quarterbacks after true freshman Art Sitkowski (6 of 13 for 39 yards) was lifted for the third straight game. Rescigno finished 12 of 24 for 129 yards after taking over in the second quarter.
Buffalo: Hosts Army next Saturday.
Rutgers: Hosts Indiana next Saturday.
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