Football searches for first win of the season against Monmouth

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Alyssa Keown/The Kent Stater Kent State tight end Ryan Malone blocks North Carolina A&T 39-36 on September 10, 2016. Kent State lost to North Carolina A&T 39-36.

Henry Palattela

Kent State (0-2) will look to bring home their first win of the year when they welcome FCS opponent Monmouth University (2-0) to Dix Stadium on Saturday after opening its season with losses to Penn State and to FCS opponent North Carolina A&T.

The Hawks opened their season with road wins over Lehigh University and Delaware State University. This will be Monmouth’s second game ever against an FBS school— they lost 34-10 to Central Michigan University last year.

“They have confidence (because) they’re 2-0 and they have it rolling,” head coach Paul Haynes said at Monday’s press conference. “So at this point when you are 0-2 and you got a team that’s supposedly on the same level … I’m sure this is one that they have circled that they can win.”

Offensively the Flashes were plagued by inconsistencies against the Aggies, but there are still some positives that can be drawn out of the loss.

Redshirt freshman Mylik Mitchell played well at quarterback, throwing for 182 yards and three touchdowns— the first passing touchdowns of his collegiate career.

“Some good some bad,” Haynes said in regards to Mitchell’s play. “There were some reads that he missed; those are the things that we have to make sure we get cleaned up and solidified, but he also made some plays and kept some drives alive.

“He’s a young quarterback and an athletic quarterback, and sometimes you want to run before you sit there and go through your reads. We just got to get him to not have happy feet.”

All signs point toward Mitchell starting again against Monmouth, as freshman Justin Agner is dealing with a nagging injury.

“He’ll probably see the doctors today or tomorrow, but (Agner is) doubtful,” Haynes said.

Two of Mitchell’s touchdown passes landed in the hands of senior tight end Brice Fackler, who now leads the Flashes in both receiving yards and touchdowns with 65 and 2, respectively.

Freshman Justin Rankin has made his presence known in the Flashes backfield, rushing for 119 yards and a touchdown.

2015 All-Mid-American Conference selection senior Nate Holley continues to be the heart of Kent State’s defense, as he leads the team with 30 total tackles (two of which went for losses).

Fellow All-MAC member senior Terence Waugh is second with 18 total tackles. He has four tackles for loss and three sacks this season, both of which are team-highs.

Offensively, Monmouth is led by sophomore quarterback Cody Williams, who has thrown for 325 yards and a touchdown this season. Williams started all 11 games for last year, compiling 1868 yards and 12 touchdowns.

He has two big targets: Darren Ambush, who has nine receptions for 97 yards, and sophomore Reggie White Jr., who has 14 receptions for 147 yards.

The Hawks are very potent on the ground game, as they have a two-headed attack in seniors Lavon Chaney and Zach Welch, who have combined for 274 yards and three touchdowns.

This could very well come down to special teams, as both teams have down noteworthy things on special teams this year. The Hawks blocked a total of four kicks in their last game against Delaware State University, while Kent State kicker Shane Hynes is currently tied for third in the nation with five made field goals.

“Every game is a challenge for us … this is the most important game on the schedule for us right now,” Haynes said. “We have to make sure that we are focused like crazy to go out there and execute and do the things we need to do to win.”

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