Kent State rallies to upset Central Michigan

Henry Palattella

Kent State’s (3-6, 2-3 Mid-American Conference) season has been defined thus far by frustrating late-game losses.

This week, the Flashes got to feel what it’s like to be on the other side of the equation: Sophomore kicker Shane Hynes knocked in a 34-yard field goal just before time expired, giving the Flashes a stunning 27-24 win over Central Michigan University (5-3, 2-3 MAC).

Hynes’ game-winner came on a day where special teams were lackluster across the board, as six total kicks were blocked on the day, but only four counted due to penalties. Kent State had both a field goal and a punt blocked, while the Flashes blocked two Central Michigan field-goals themselves. Turnovers played a part as well: both teams combined for four total interceptions and one lost fumble.

Junior quarterback Nick Holley had another monster game behind center for the Flashes, as he rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown and added 102 with one touchdown and one interception through the air. True freshman running back Justin Rankin had a good game on the ground as well, rushing for 78 yards and one touchdown.

The Flashes struck first when Hynes made a 43-yard go halfway through the second quarter, but the Chippewas responded when Kent State snapped the ball out of the end zone to give Central Michigan a safety.

Junior Nick Holley hit senior receiver Ernest Calhoun from three yards out to give the Flashes a 10-2 lead,. But senior quarterback Cooper Rush hit junior receiver Corey Willis from three yards out for the touchdown with 23 seconds left, and then converted the two-point conversion to make it 10-10 at halftime.

Rush threw 20-of-43 for 244 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw three interceptions, two of which ended up in the hands of junior safety Kevin Bourne — the first of his career. Senior defensive back Najee Murray had the other Kent State interception.

Central Michigan scored 14 points in the first five minutes of the second half when Rush found junior receiver Mark Chapman from 40-yard out for the touchdown, and then Central Michigan defensive back Tony Annese stepped in front of Holley’s pass, and took it 28 yards for a touchdown and a 24-10 lead.

The Flashes cut into that lead on their very next drive when Rankin got the Flashes deep into Central Michigan territory on a 40-yard rush and then finished the drive off with a one-yard touchdown run.

The Flashes tied it up three drives later when Holley went 68 yards untouched for the touchdown to tie the game. Neither team could get another score across until Hynes knocked in the game-winner.

Central Michigan coach John Bonamego called two consecutive time-outs in an attempt to ice Hynes, but his attempts proved futile, as Hynes knocked the kick in, sending the Kent State sideline into a frenzy.

Henry Palattella is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected].