But a full afternoon of work was required to put the stubborn Bulls away.
The Golden Flashes managed to commit enough errors to make things unnecessarily interesting before finally subduing the overmatched Bulls 41-20 at Dix Stadium on Saturday.
"We couldn't ever just get it over with, and that made me a little nervous," said Kent coach Dean Pees. "But I felt confident all day that every time our offense took the field we could move the chains. The times we did get stopped, we did it to ourselves."
The Flashes' offense broke out of a recent slump with authority, piling up 581 total yards by deftly mixing the pass and run. Sophomore Chante Murphy rushed for 156 yards on 26 carries to spearhead a rushing attack that churned out 285 yards, while senior quarterback Jose Davis completed 24-of-34 passes for 296 yards.
"We threw a lot on first down to establish the pass, and that helped open up the running game," said Pees. "And once we established the run, that opened things up all over the field."
The only blotch on the Kent stat sheet appears ironically in the interception column. Davis _ who had thrown only two interceptions all year long _ was picked off three times deep inside Buffalo territory by the same player, Bulls sophomore free safety Craig Rohfls.
"Two of those were my fault, and the other was on a tipped ball," said Davis. "I guess I was due. Those things happen."
Davis and Murphy set the tone in opening minutes by leading Kent (2-7, 2-4 MAC) on a game-opening 7-play, 73-yard touchdown drive. Murphy gained 34 yards on three rushes, while Davis completed three straight passes before sneaking in from a yard out to give the Flashes a quick 7-0 lead.
But the Bulls (0-8, 0-7) responded even quicker, as quarterback Joe Freedy heaved a 51-yard bomb to a wide open Drew Haddad on their first play from scrimmage to tie the game at 7 not even four minutes in.
The MAC's receiving leader was even better than advertised, as Haddad wound up with eight catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
After an exchange of punts, Kent broke on top for good when senior Jason Gavadza hauled in a middle screen from Davis and waltzed untouched into the end zone for a 10-yard score.
The Bulls had no answer for Gavadza's speed and power, as the 245-pound senior tight end caught eight passes for 114 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Rohfls interceptions thwarted three other scoring chances in the first half, but Kent did tack on a third touchdown when Davis tossed an 11-yard pass to James Gamble.
Buffalo had a chance to cut into the 21-7 deficit before halftime, driving to the Kent 20-yard line before Flashes senior defensive lineman Brad Hartman ended the threat by literally ripping the football out of fullback Josh Roth's clutches and into his own.
Kent increased its lead to 31-7 in the third quarter after a 19-yard pass from Davis to Gavadza, then Davis tossed his fourth scoring strike of the day to tight end Joel Reikowski to give the Flashes a 38-14 fourth-quarter cushion.
"(Moving the ball) was pretty easy today," said Davis. "Some days things
just haven't gone right for us, but today they did."