Late miscue costs Flashes in Wagon Wheel loss

Kent State Wide Receiver Mike Carrigan (87) runs the ball forward with seconds left in the first half of Flashes’ matchup against Akron on Saturday. The Flashes lost, 24-23.

Ian Kreider

Coach Sean Lewis took off his hat, wiped the rain from his head and walked in the Kent State locker room to address his team after another Flashes loss, their seventh of the season. 

This one was different. It was Akron.

Kent State (1-7, 0-4 Mid-American Conference) was an extra point away from extending overtime and being one step closer to the win Lewis had promised at the press conference the Monday before.

It appeared the Flashes had the momentum after junior running back Justin Rankin caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Woody Barrett to cut the lead, 24-23, in favor of the Zips (3-3, 1-2 MAC).

The Flashes lined up for the extra point, but called a timeout.

“We thought about (going for two), but just wanted to collect our thoughts and make sure we had our protection set and all were on the same page,” Lewis said of the timeout following the touchdown.

Apparently, they were not.

The ball was snapped low and sophomore second-string quarterback Dustin Crum could not handle it. He stood up quickly and ran to the right and then tried to reverse field, but he was swarmed by Akron defenders.

“It was a low snap,” Lewis said. “Crum got his hands on it and bobbled it, but did a good job of executing our fire call, and we just didn’t make the play.”

Despite the late play, the Flashes still had a variety of solid plays throughout the game, with the biggest momentum swing coming right before the half. Senior cornerback Darryl Marshall intercepted a deep pass, setting the Flashes up on their own 26-yard line with 57 seconds left in the first half. Barrett led the offense down the field with two completions of 20-plus yards to junior receivers Antwan Dixon and Mike Carrigan that set up the Flashes on the 22-yard line. With seven seconds left, Barrett scampered into the endzone to knot it up, 10-10. 

“It was an option that he has on that play, and he did a great job of executing that play and knowing he needed to score with seven seconds left,” Lewis said.

Barrett finished the day 16-for-30 for 188 yards and a touchdown, with most of his damage being done on the ground, as he finished with 81 yards on 16 carries.

Akron quarterback Kato Nelson finished the day slightly more efficient, going 19-for-35 for 219 yards and a touchdown. Nelson also made his presence known on the ground, rushing for 90 yards, a majority of which came on his 55-yard touchdown romp in the third quarter.

The last time Kent State beat Akron was in 2014, which means this year’s game was a bitter end to the rivalry for the majority of the seniors.

“The kids fought like crazy, and it was a tough, emotional rivalry game,” Lewis said. “I felt like they played tough and competed, but I wish the result was different, especially for the seniors that were on the field before the game. They are a great group of kids. These guys have been great and continue to be great with their attitude and effort especially with the things we are asking them to do. There’s not a group of kids that I want to celebrate more than these kids.”

The Flashes will look to snap their six-game losing streak on Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. when they take on Bowling Green (1-7, 0-4 MAC) inside Doyt L. Perry Stadium.

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