Extra Points: On a long lead, turnovers and searching for a victory


Kent State’s Antwan Dixon attempts a stiff-arm during the second half of the Flashes matchup against Ohio University on Oct. 6, 2018. Kent lost the game, 27-26.

Henry Palattella

1.     Kent State led for 58 minutes Saturday.

2.     They took the lead 10 seconds into the game when Woody Barrett found Isaiah McKoy on a 75-yard touchdown heave. Over the next almost-hour of game-time, the Flashes added on another Barrett touchdown pass and four field-goals by freshman Matthew Trickett.

3.     But in the end, it wasn’t enough.

4.     Nathan Rourke spun into the end zone with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter to give Ohio their first lead of the afternoon. Five plays later, Barrett was intercepted by Ohio’s Javon Hagan, and the Flashes walked off the field 1-5, dreaming of what could have been.

5.     “Obviously this one hurts, came up short. Kids fought their tails off and we need to do a better job finishing. Not just at the end of the game, but finishing during drives and at the half,” coach Sean Lewis said.

6.     In some respects, it’s surprising the Flashes only lost by one. Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke finished 18-for-20 for 284 yards passing, while running back A.J. Ouellette recorded two rushing touchdowns. But it was close thanks in part to the Flashes’ defensive ability to force turnovers.

7.     “We knew we had to start fast,” defensive end Jordan Silvia said. “During the week, (defensive coordinator) Tom Kaufmann emphasized stripping the ball. We all crowded the ball and as one tried to strip it away.”

8.     In total, the Flashes forced a red zone interception, a Rourke fumble at the Kent State 23-yard-line and an Ouellette fumble at the Flashes 11.

9.     Barrett also forced a fumble after a turnover. He was intercepted by OU’s Marlin Brooks in the first quarter but forced Brooks to fumble on the return. While the Flashes didn’t score on the subsequent possession, it was a momentum shift at the time.

10.  Justin Rankin continues to run with a mission. The junior running back finished with 123 yards rushing, his second game this season with 100+ yards rushing. He came into this season having never rushed for more than 100 yards in a game.

11.  Part of what makes Rankin such a dynamic runner is his ability to change fields when he gets into the secondary. Rankin finished with three runs of 20 or more yards.

12.  “Honestly on some of those runs, I probably should have just run straight, I probably would have scored,” Rankin said. “I just keep my eyes on a swivel to just make sure that I can make people miss; that’s what I do best.”

13.  Despite the two interceptions, Barrett continues to impress. His connection with McKoy on the first play was something the Flashes had been preparing for all season. Outside of their 41-yard connection against Howard in the Flashes’ home-opener, the two never seemed to be connected on a deep ball.

14.  “It was something that we saw through preparation and we saw on tape,” Lewis said of the deep ball. “We thought we had a good matchup and knew we had a good calculated shot. It was a great way to start the game.”

15.  Barrett also dropped in the prettiest throws I’ve seen in my time at Kent State. In the Flashes penultimate drive. Barrett dropped back on a 1st and 15, and it initially looked as if he didn’t have anything. That changed when Barrett threw Antwan Dixon open with a beautiful touch pass over two Ohio defenders’ heads.

16.  I’ve seen lots of throws from lots of different Kent State quarterbacks, but that was the first time that I saw a quarterback THROW a receiver open. While the outcome of the game might not be what the Flashes have wanted, Barrett still continues to prove that he is the real deal.

17.  Barrett also finished with 61 yards rushing on 12 attempts. He also deviates from the norm in that he’s a quarterback who fights for the extra yards, whether it be the right decision or not.

18.  “A lot of what we tell him is what’s a necessary hit versus an unnecessary hit and knowing the people chasing him,” Lewis said. “He’s a big physical kid, he doesn’t go down very early.”

19.  Trickett making four field-goals is something that is both a positive and a negative for the Flashes. The obvious positive is that Trickett was able to make four field-goals, something that has brought stability that was initially lacking it. That being said, the fact that four drives ended in field goals as opposed to touchdowns is something Lewis knows the Flashes need to work on.  

20.  “When you’re in the red zone you want to be able to finish those drives with a touchdown,” Lewis said. “Touchdowns are worth six, field goals are worth three. In a game like this where you come up short it comes down to each of those situations where we can execute better.”

21.  Despite the rough outcome, Dix Stadium was packed on Saturday. The announced attendance was 20,062, which was evident before the game. The Dix Stadium parking lot was filled before the game, which was a refreshing sight.  

22.  “I want to say thank you to all the friends, fans, family and alumni who came back to make Dix Stadium a great anthroposphere today,” Lewis said. “It was a great environment for our kids to play in.”

23.  Lewis has talked all season about how the Flashes don’t need any “moral victories.” He’s right, they don’t. With Kent State’s history, they need actual wins. That being said, it’s clear that the fans have begun to buy into the FlashFAST era of Kent State football.

24.  The Flashes will be back action next weekend when they on Miami (OH) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Oxford.