Flashes play host to Howard in home opener

Kent+State+cornerback+Jamal+Parker+watches+a+play+in+the+second+half+of+the+Kent+State+vs.+Clemson+game.

Kent State cornerback Jamal Parker watches a play in the second half of the Kent State vs. Clemson game.

Scott Lendak

Before the season, Howard may have been an afterthought to a lot of Kent State football fans.

As the Flashes head into week two, however, they realize the challenge ahead of them. 

“One thing that jumps out on both sides of the ball is team speed,” interim coach Don Treadwell said of Howard’s overall makeup. “Offensively, they spread you out and move around, led by their quarterback. Defensively, you see a lot of guys flying to the ball.”

The Bison will travel to Kent State to face the Flashes at Dix Stadium one week after they pulled off the biggest upset in college football history in terms of point spread.

Howard defeated UNLV 43-40 as 45-point underdogs. It was their first win in history against an FBS team.

“Based on our results and their results, there is definitely extra motivation,” quarterback Nick Holley said.  “As a collective group, when you have a team that just got off an upset, not only do they believe, but they’re together, and that’s going to be a challenge to overcome.”

Bison quarterback Caylin Newton was a big threat with his legs in the week one upset as he carried the ball for 190 yards and two touchdowns.

It will once again be a tough task for the Flashes to slow down a dynamic offense. Against Clemson, Kent State’s defense allowed 665 total yards and 35 first downs.

Linebacker Matt Bahr highlights the Flashes defensively as he comes off a game in which he had nine tackles all in the first half, a career high.

The Flashes will be the host for the first time this season, and Holley said it feels good to be in Dix Stadium again.

“It will be the first time on the new turf, so that will be exciting,” Holley said. “Hopefully we can build an atmosphere here and create something and start building a program. It’s exciting to get that opportunity to be home.” 

The special teams may play a large role in the contest, and punter Derek Adams was named Mid-American Conference East Division Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday, Sept. 4.

Adams had four punts of 50 yards or more, including a 66-yarder that was downed at the eight-yard line. He also had a 56-yarder downed at the Clemson 11-yard line. On the day, Adams punted 11 times, averaging 46.5 yards.

“It’s not surprising what Derek did on Saturday,” Treadwell said.  “When you talk about hard workers, he’s out there day after day when there’s no one else out there, he’s working on his game. And it also showed his flexibility with the standard punt and the rugby punt. There are a lot of punters that can’t do both, and that really makes him a weapon.”

The Flashes struggled as a team offensively. Holley completed just one pass on four attempts for one passing yard. Kent State had just 120 total yards.

Treadwell said it’s important to continue to improve and stay on course. 

“I think there are certain things that we’re going to continue to do on offense, and our whole focus is to do it better each week,” Treadwell said.  “That’s typically the case with the offense we have. We stay the course and fine-tune some things along the way.”

Despite the start in Clemson, Holley remains positive and thinks when this team hits its stride they will be dangerous.

“I think with the guys we have, when things start to click, we can have a special season,” Holley said.  “It’s exciting to be in season after a long offseason, so this is when we finally get to play and show what we can do.”

The Bison (1-0) and Flashes (0-1) face off Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Dix Stadium. The game also serves host to Parents and Families Weekend.

Scott Lendak is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected]