Pete runs wild to lead Bengals to comeback win


Dave DeLuca/The Record

Rich Pete led Buffalo State on the ground with 23 carries for 142 yards and four touchdowns.

Anthony Reyes, Staff Writer

Buffalo State head football coach Jerry Boyes scanned a group of reporters following Buffalo State’s come-from-behind, 32-28 win over Salisbury University Saturday.

Boyes looked left and then looked right.

“All of you guys are taller than him, well, maybe not you.” Boyes joked with a reporter. “Rich Pete has the heart of a 6’3’’ 190 lbs. running back, but with great speed to go along with it.”

Boyes praised Pete and stated that he believes the senior running back is one of the best division-three running backs and Pete did all he could to prove that Saturday.

Pete finished the game with 23 carries for 140 yards and accounted for all four of the Bengals’ touchdowns on the day. His touchdown rushes were from 9, 1, 20, and 2 yards. With his 140-yard day against Salisbury, Pete rushed for over 100 yards for the fourth straight game this season.

“We can give Rich the ball every single play and he wouldn’t get tired,” sophomore quarterback Kyle Hoppy said. “So you know, that’s just the kind of player he is. He’s always electrifying, you think he’s going to get tackled and all of the sudden he’s three yards the other way. So we’ll just keep riding Rich and throwing it when they tell us to throw it.”

Although Pete finished the game strong, the game didn’t start off that way.

“In the first quarter we just had to shake some things off and execute,” Pete said. “Offense, we just came out slow but I’m going to go out on a limb and say we’ve got the most dynamic and high-powered offense in the Empire 8, we just got to get going faster. The rest of the game we executed, we didn’t have to make tweaks or anything.”

Pete now has seven touchdowns in three games and says that’s all he thinks about when he has the ball.

“Touchdown. Every time,” Pete said. “When I’m out in space all I think is touchdown, whenever I touch the ball all I think is touchdown and nothing else.”

The Bengals received the ball after halftime and seemed to finally have some offensive rhythm for the first time in the game. They took it 70 yards in five plays, capped off by a Pete 1-yard touchdown rush to cut the deficit to 21-17, Salisbury. The Buffalo State defense then forced a Seagull fumble and the Bengals recovered it on the Salisbury 46-yard line.

After seven plays, the Bengals were set up on the Seagull 5-yard line and looked to Pete to punch it in again but it ended with a costly fumble. Salisbury capitalized on the fumble and added to their lead with a touchdown to make it 28-17, Salisbury, with 1:44 left in the third quarter.

“After that fumble I saw it in Rich’s eyes, he had some fire in them,” junior defensive back Mitch Thomas said. “I knew he wanted to get it back and help us and that’s what he did. He kept at it, he didn’t put his head down, he kept his head up and helped us come back and win this game.”

Pete came out determined after the fumble with rushes of 15, 19, 20, and 14 yards on his next three drives, along with two more touchdown rushes, one of which was the game winner.

Boyes loved what he saw from Pete out on the field.

“Belief is a real big thing,” Boyes said. “We talk about that a lot and it’s first of all belief in yourself that you can do the job but then, it’s as important as believing in each other, believing in your teammates. I saw that today.”

Pete potentially could have had a 200-yard game. About half way through the fourth quarter Pete took off from his own 26-yard line and seemed to have only his teammate, junior wide receiver Billy Joiner, laying on the field in his way. He attempted to hurdle Joiner, who was getting up and didn’t see Pete, and Pete was tripped up on the hurdle.

If he had made it all the way to the end zone it would have been a 74-yard touchdown. After a long completion from Hoppy to senior wide receiver Mike Doherty that set the Bengals up at the Salisbury 20, Pete punched it in for his third touchdown of the day.

“He made some great things happen out there,” Boyes said. “I think he was, on a couple occasions, very, very close to breaking through for a long, long run and that’s why you just have to keep going at that.”

Pete leads the Empire 8 in attempts (90), rushing yards (527), touchdowns (eight) and yards-per-carry among backs with at least 50 carries (5.9). Pete is now averaging 22.5 carries a game, which is something the Bengals know is necessary for their offense to produce as a unit.

“That’s kind of a little bit of a goal of ours,” Boyes said. “To make sure we give Rich Pete the ball, so that he can have the opportunity to make things happen. He just means so much to us because, you know, you’ve seen some big plays with our wide receivers but if you don’t have that running game to make things happen and keep people in there, they can do some things to you defensively to shut things down.”

The victory was a big bounce-back after a disappointing loss to Alfred.

“This is absolutely huge,” Boyes said. “You know, I’ve had the open ended question to the team ‘when are we going to make noise in the Empire 8.’ We missed an opportunity last week, we really did, so for them to come out and make some noise today was a testimony to this team.”

The Bengals evened up its Empire 8 record at 1-1 and are now 3-1 overall. They will travel to Maryland to take on the Frostburg State University Bobcats this Saturday at 1 pm.

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