AMHERST, N.Y. — Ohio sat on its own one-yard line, about to begin its second drive of its game against Buffalo. Before he took the field for the snap, quarterback Armani Rogers’ teammates had a message for him.
“They were telling me, ‘Let’s just make this one play,‘“ Rogers said.
If the Bobcats were to score on the first play of their second drive, they’d have to move 99 yards downfield after just a single snap. At that point, the longest recognized run by a Football Bowl Subdivision quarterback was 98 yards. That record would be broken 13 seconds after the Bobcats began their drive.
With seven minutes and 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Rogers stood in the center of Ohio’s end zone with running back O’Shaan Allison to his left. He took the snap, and Allison ran forward to block while Rogers ran left and escaped past the goal line. He remained unscathed thanks to Ohio’s offensive line and Allison smothering incoming Buffalo defenders.
“I don’t think anybody touched him,“ Ohio coach Tim Albin said. “We had a little power O, and he bounced it, had great blocking on the perimeter. O’Shaan, unbelievable block from what I could tell on the sideline, and then Cam (Odom) sealed their guy.”
Buffalo’s Tra Wilkins and Cory Gross approached Rogers as he made his way along the left sideline, but by the time he was 20 yards out, he had outrun both of them. Thirty yards past the line of scrimmage, Odom was there to assist his quarterback. The wide receiver delivered a crucial block downfield to let Rogers dash around the final Bull who had a chance at stopping him. The only thing in front of Rogers after that was open field. He sprinted forward and bolted into Buffalo’s end zone with no one else near him to put Ohio up by two touchdowns.
“It was a funny, happy experience,“ Rogers said. “Because we’re all talking about it, like, ‘let’s go make this one play,“ and then actually making it happen.”
Rogers’ run didn’t just result in a single-play scoring drive. His 99-yard rush broke the FBS record for the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in history. According to the NCAA’s 2021 FBS record book, the record was previously set Oct. 27, 1979 when Arizona State’s Mark Malone ran for a 98-yard touchdown against Utah State. Just shy of 42 years later, Rogers found his way into the history books in just his second start for Ohio.
Ohio ended up losing to Buffalo 27-26 on Saturday, but the record-breaking run came at a special place for Rogers. He was born in Buffalo and his father, Sam Rogers, played linebacker for the Buffalo Bills for seven seasons.
“(It’s) bittersweet,“ Rogers said. “Because we didn’t get the win. But it’s definitely something fun to look back at. I’m coming home from where I was born at, sort of, breaking a record, so that was a good experience.”
As explosive a run as it was, Rogers’ ability to make big plays on the ground comes as a surprise to no one. His innate rushing ability has been his go-to since he transferred to Ohio from UNLV in 2020. Prior to Saturday, his career-high rush had been was 83 yards with the Rebels in 2017.
Four seasons later, Rogers etched himself into the history books with one play.