Kent State drops season opener to Illinois


One day after lightning strikes delayed the Golden Flashes’ first game of the 2015-2016 season, the Illinois Fighting Illini poured on the offense on their way to a commanding 52-3 win.

The Golden Flashes struggled on both sides of the ball, and the Fighting Illini took advantage of every misstep. 

The offense looked out of sync, turning the ball over four times and going just 3-18 on third downs. The defense in turn allowed five Illinois touchdowns through the air.

“We wanted to start fast, and we didn’t do that,” coach Paul Haynes said. “It got us to the point where we started working on things we wanted to make sure we work on. (We had) a lot of young guys in there that played pretty well for us.”

Kent State redshirt senior Colin Reardon complet- ed just 15-34 passes (for 156 yards) and threw three interceptions,before being pulled late in the fourth quar- ter. Running backs Miles Hibbler and Myles Washington combined for 28 yards on 16 carries.

The offense left the field after just three plays or less seven different times, and a myriad of penalties wiped away any positive plays the Flashes mustered. 

At one point, the offense committed penalties on three straight plays: a holding call brought back a 19-yard run, followed by a delay of game and then an illegal formation. 

“We made some mistakes that we usually (don’t) make. We made ‘first game’ mistakes, and they cost us,” Haynes said.

Illini junior quarterback Wes Lunt (11-19,) threw for 162 yards and four touchdowns.

Overall, the Flashes defense gave up only 342 total yards to the Fighting Illini — not as bad as the blowout would suggest— but they allowed three touchdowns on single play drives.

Kent State fell behind early, ending the first quarter down 21-0, and 38-0 at the half. The only points scored came on a 43-yard field goal from Shane Hynes late in the fourth quarter, avoiding an embarrassing shutout.

The home opener is next Saturday, Sept. 12 at 6:00p.m. 

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SIDEBAR: How the rest of the MAC fared

Sure, Kent State struggled this weekend, but they absolutely weren’t alone in that endeavor. In fact, just about every team in the Mid-American Conference met trouble this weekend, including nearby rival Akron.

No. 5 Michigan State 37, Western Michigan 24: The Broncos were led by junior wide receiver Corey Davis in the loss, who finished with 10 catches,154 yards and a touchdown.

Old Dominion 38, Eastern Michigan 34: The Eagles coughed up a lead they held throughout the entire contest in the fourth quarter, when the Monarchs scored a touchdown with just 1:57 remaining in the game.

Buffalo 54, Albany 14: The Bulls scored the most points in season-opener history for the school, and pretty much secured the win by scoring on six of their first eight possessions. Five of those scores were touchdowns.

Miami 26, Presbyterian 7: Senior RedHawks quarterback Drew Kummer had a field day versus the Blue Hose, as he compiled 255 yards passing and a pair of scores.

Tennessee 59, Bowling Green 30: The Volunteers pulled away at the end of the first half, but at one point, the Falcons were down just 21-20 and seemed poised to stage an upset.

Northern Illinois 38, UNLV 30: Junior quarterback Drew Hare flashed the promise of becoming the next in the Huskies’ strong lineage of quarterbacks with his career-high 360 yards passing. The Huskies had to overcome a first half deficit to win, but Hare’s strong performance, in accordance with junior running back Joel Bouganon’s three-touchdown day, was enough to propel the team to the win.

No. 19 Oklahoma 41, Akron 3: This one stung for the Zips, who will play Pittsburgh at home next weekend. Sophomore quarterback Tra’Von Chapman, a product of Kent Roosevelt high school, led the Zips in rushing with 48 yards. 

Jimmy Miller is the Senior Editor at The Kent Stater and Ian Flickinger is the Sports Editor at The Kent Stater. Contact them at [email protected] and [email protected]