Lewis grabs first conference win as coach

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Kent State coach Sean Lewis comforts quarterback Woody Barrett as he walks off the field after he was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct during a a touchdown celebration in Kent State’s game against Illinois at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. The Flashes lost, 31-24.

Ian Kreider

Kent State sophomore quarterback Woody Barrett dropped back on 3rd-and-6 from Kent State’s (2-7, 1-4 Mid-American Conference) 48-yard line, tucking the ball away, gaining 34 yards on a quarterback scramble.

One drive earlier, Barrett fumbled on the Kent State 26-yard line after not tucking the ball away during a run. This turnover proved to be costly as Bowling Green (1-8, 0-5 MAC) scored on a seven-play drive to tie the score at 28 with five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

“He did a great job,” coach Sean Lewis said. “When his fundamentals are sound, it leads to great plays. The third-down run, he was able to make a big time play, but he needs to do that consistently so that he doesn’t make me lose any more hair that I don’t already have on the top of my head.”

The Flashes would score on the next play, as junior running back Jo-El Shaw took off for an 18-yard touchdown to give the Flashes a 35-28 lead with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, the margin they would go on to win by. Shaw had a career-high in carries (26) and yards (128), while adding two touchdowns. He started in place of junior running back Justin Rankin, who was a late scratch after being placed in concussion protocol.

“I thought he was a little bit slow to go early on, and he was bouncing some runs that I didn’t think he needed to,” Lewis said. “He did a great job of responding, and that final run of the day where he finished behind his pads and ran north and south, that is who he is. That’s who we need him to be.”

The game was iced by the Kent State defense. Junior defensive lineman Theo Majette had two sacks during the Falcons’ final drive, including a strip sack that created a 2nd-and-long situation. This helped force the Falcons’ offense into a tight spot, leading to a game-ending interception by sophomore linebacker Kesean Gamble.

“Amazing when you get in those one-minute drive situations; when you get a sack, your odds of winning go up exponentially, let alone two,” Lewis said. “Big-time drive by the whole defense.”

The defense had another adjustment this week as senior linebacker Dalton Hicks started in place of senior linebacker Jim Jones. Hicks finished with a career-high 14 tackles.

“Dalton and Cepheda Phillips have both been doing a great job ever since the Miami (OH) game,” Lewis said. “They really seized an opportunity there. We preach to our kids all the time that there’s going to be constant competition and that when you demonstrate excellence that’s going to an increased role. Their infectious energy that they bring and the way they bring down people in the open field, they do a really good job.”

Lewis also reached into his bag of tricks in the third quarter. The Flashes lined up for a field goal, but never kicked it. Instead, sophomore backup quarterback Dustin Crum took off for a first down. Crum was at the center of the criticism in last week’s 24-23 loss to Akron in overtime, during which he could not handle a low snap, which ended the Flashes’ chance to tie.

“When the opportunities present themselves, we’re always going to take calculated shots,” Lewis said. “Like I said before, ‘no risk it, no biscuit.’ I thought the last few weeks I kind of strayed away from that motto, and I’ve got to be true to who I am and true to who this team is.”

The Flashes will be back in action next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. when they take on Bufflo (8-1, 5-0 MAC) inside UB Stadium.

Ian Kreider is the sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected]