Flashes face off against MAC West-leading Toledo on ESPN 2


Sophomore quarterback Colin Reardon makes a play against Army at the Homecoming Game Saturday, Oct. 17, 2014. The Flashes are 1-7 in their season and face the University of Toledo on Tuesday at 8p.m.

Taylor Rosen

The Kent State football team (1-7, 0-4 MAC) will return home to Dix Stadium hoping to knock off a conference powerhouse Tuesday night with only four games left to play.

“We are where we are, and we had somewhat of a bye week this week to get ready for the toughest team we’ll face, besides Ohio State in Toledo,” Kent State coach Paul Haynes said.

The Flashes are still confident in their ability to upset Toledo (5-3, 4-0 MAC after last week’s 10-3.) Last Saturday in Oxford, the Flashes offense failed to consistently move the ball and score points, something they must do against Toledo to have a chance of pulling off the upset.

“Coming off of a disappointing loss against Miami, and I think the guys played hard, but we just didn’t make enough plays to get over the hump,” Haynes said. “We talked yesterday and what makes it so frustrating is that we’re losing winnable games. We’re in it and have a chance to win it, but we just don’t make enough plays to do it.”

In the loss at Miami, the defense stepped up for the majority of the game. Besides a few penalties that kept the RedHawks’ only touchdown drive of the game alive early on, the Flashes held Miami to just 287 total yards of offense.

“I think our defensive line did a great job of putting pressure on the quarterback and making him throw the ball early,” junior safety Jordan Italiano said. “What we want is to win out, and these last four games we need to still compete.”

The Flashes were inconsistent in execution, and it showed on the game film. 

“We started off young, but I can’t say that we’re young anymore,” sophomore offensive lineman Reno Reda said. “We’re almost done with the season, so now we all have experience. It doesn’t matter who’s starting now because a lot of guys have had playing time. We just trust each other and that’s a big thing, and we trust whoever is in there.”

Game Notes

  • According to kentstatesports.com, Kent State is the only MAC team left still in search of its first conference win, while Toledo is the only MAC team undefeated in conference play.
  • Seventeen different Flashes (nine on offense, eight on defense) have gotten their first career start this season.
  • Sophomore quarterback Colin Reardon is in sixth place in career completions (352), seventh in career passing yards (3,745) and is tied for seventh in career TD passes (21) at Kent State.
  • Kent State’s offensive line has allowed only one sack of Reardon in its last four games.
  • Senior tight end Casey Pierce has made 17 catches in three games for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Senior receiver Chris Humphrey is in eighth place in career receptions at Kent State with 109.
  • Sophomore safety Nate Holley ranks third in the nation in total tackles (12.6) and fourth in solo tackles (7.4) per game.
  • Junior Anthony Melchiori ranks 11th in the nation with a 45.1 yard punting average.
  • Senior cornerback Malcolm Pannell has five interceptions in his last 14 contests.
  • Sophomore Nick Holley had a combined 95 yards rushing and receiving at Miami. Since game two, he is averaging 69.3 yards per game.

The Flashes were just two of 13 on third-down conversions, and as a team they rushed for only 79 yards, but the team lost by just a touchdown.

“On third down, it’s just about preparing for the blitz,” Reda said. “We just have to continue to prepare for these guys and we’ll be able to pick it up. We just go play every game hard and prepare that we’re going to rush the ball for over 200 yards, and that we aren’t going to give up any sacks, and the goal is to just do your job.”

The Toledo Rockets could be considered the best team in the Mid-American Conference because of their undefeated conference record in conference play and high-powered offense, which has scored at least 20 points or more in every game this year. 

“You got four games left, and you have a team that has something that belongs to us,” Haynes said. “So that is what you’re playing for — each other. It’s all for the love of the game and it’s a rivalry game so we obviously want to win.”

If the Rockets can win tomorrow, they will extend their winning streak to two after holding on to defeat the University of Massachusetts last Saturday, 42-35. The game will kick off on ESPN 2 shortly after 8 p.m.

“We have to keep fighting and preparing,” Italiano said. “Pretty much do everything like we’re still winning because we still have four games left. You don’t have to tell them but you want to make sure to remind them not to quit. We still have the wagon wheel, and we’re still fighting for all the seniors because we want to send them out on a good note.” 

Contact Taylor Rosen at [email protected].