Kent State falls to Ohio despite Holley’s record-setting performance

Henry Palattella

The Kent State Flashes 2016 campaign has been defined by late game struggles. First, they had the four-overtime loss to Football Championship Subdivision (FCS)opponent North Carolina A&T. Then it was last-second losses MAC rivals to The University of Akron and the University of Miami (OH). Now, the Flashes can add their game against Ohio to that already long and frustrating list.

Kent State (2-6, 1-3 Mid-American Conference) lost 14-10 to Ohio (5-3, 3-1 MAC), despite the fact that the Flashes held the Bobcats scoreless in the second half. The loss was just another frustrating late-game loss for the team, who has now lost four games in the fourth quarter this year.

“(It was a) disappointing loss. I thought our guys played hard, though … for how beat up we are,” head coach Paul Haynes said after the game. “Guys fought like crazy; We didn’t have anyone come out of the game. (For the) second week in a row where we just need a couple more plays. We just didn’t get it.”

The Flashes offense was once again jumpstarted by junior quarterback Nick Holley. Holley complied 159 yards and a touchdown on the ground on an astonishing 41 carries, which is the most carries by a Kent State player since Astron Whatley in 1996.

“I think (the 41 carries are) a little deceiving because every (pass play we call) and he runs it, (it counts as) a rush,” Haynes said. “It wasn’t 41 attempts we had with him.”

Holley also added 101 yards through the air, but he had two chances to get a lot more. Holley’s first miscue through the air came in the fist quarter when he overthrew freshman wide receiver Kavious Price. The Flashes ran the play-action to perfection, which left Price wide open down the sideline for an easy touchdown. But Holley put too much on the throw and overthrew Price by 10 yards.

Holley’s next aerial miscue was the biggest one. The Flashes were down 14-10 with five minutes left when Ohio’s Papi White muffed a punt deep in Bobcats territory that resulted in the Flashes getting the ball on the Ohio 11-yard line.

The Flashes only managed to gain four yards during the first three downs, and Holley overthrew senior tight end Brice Fackler in the end zone on fourth down, which gave Ohio the ball and the victory.

“(We were) just trying to get a touchdown (on that play),” Haynes said. “We released everybody. They covered (our first read) and we just tried to make something happen. I don’t think three points helped us at that time, with just two timeouts. We weren’t doing a very good job of stopping the run and those three points would have helped us. We didn’t come here to lose by one.”

The Flashes were playing from behind the whole game, thanks in part to the Ohio’s ground game. The Bobcats first passed the goal-line first when junior running back Dorian Brown broke free from the Kent State defense and went 49 yards for the touchdown. Ohio ground game resulted in points later in the first half when sophomore running back Maleek Irons punched it in from four yards out.

Long scoring drives were the name of the game for the Flashes, as both Kent State scores came as the result of 17-play drives. The Flashes first scored on their last drive of the first half when Shane Hynes knocked in a 22-yard field goal to make it 14-3 at the intermission.

The Flashes then got the ball at the start of the second half and went on another 17-play drive, which ended when Holley rushed it in from three yards out, which was the last score of the game for either side.

Ohio is now tied with Akron (5-3, 3-1 MAC) for first place in the MAC East, while the Flashes dropped to fourth place.

The Flashes next game is Saturday at Central Michigan University (5-3, 2-2 MAC). The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff.

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