Flashes prepare for MAC East contest against Ohio

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Running back Justin Rankin gets tackled during the second quarter against Miami (OH) Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.

Brandon Kagan

The Kent State football team will look to build on their homecoming 17-14 victory over Miami (OH) last time out, as this week they travel to Athens, Ohio, to take on Ohio (5-2, 2-1 Mid-American Conference).

“A lot of good things happened for us team-wise,” coach Paul Haynes said. “I’m pleased with the grit and fight of our guys.”

The Flashes entered halftime with a 14-3 deficit, but quickly turned things around early in the third quarter, setting the tone for the second half. Quarterback George Bollas threw for 154 yards and two touchdowns, and wide receiver Mike Carrigan caught an 81-yard touchdown pass, finishing the game with 162 total offensive yards.

“It’s huge,” Haynes said about Carrigan’s big play. “I’ve been on that side as a coordinator where you just throw your hands up and say ‘I don’t know what to call’ because nothing seems to be working and plays are just happening. So it’s definitely helpful.”

The Flashes have improved on their ability to complete drives, as well as converting third down plays, as they went 6-9 on third down conversions in the second half.

“That made a huge difference,” Haynes said.

On the defensive side, Haynes also had praise for key players in Saturday’s game.

“Jon Cunningham had a great game; he got our defensive player of the week,” Haynes said when asked about new names on the defensive end. “Elvis Hines had a humongous interception, which was a great play.”

Additionally, safety Manny Lawrence-Burke tied a career-high with 11 tackles against Miami.

Now 2-5 overall and 1-2 in the MAC, Kent State will look to move into a second-place tie with Ohio in a potential victory Saturday.

Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns at Bowling Green, while also throwing for 105 yards and one touchdown. Running back A.J. Ouellette ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns, giving him over 2,000 career rushing yards and 18 career touchdowns.

Ohio’s 16th-ranked offense will be a tough matchup for the Flashes.

“It’s always a tough place to go play,” Haynes said. “It’s gonna be a big challenge for us. Again, we talked about our keys to victory; we don’t turn the ball over, be decent on third down and your scorers actually score points in the red zone, you got a chance to win some football games.”

The Flashes travel to Athens to play Ohio at 2 p.m. Saturday, their second of three straight MAC East matchups.

Brandon Kagan is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected]