Flashes aim to beat rival Akron in battle for Wagon Wheel

Taylor Rosen

After spending four long days in Buffalo’s treacherous weather conditions last week, and not not even having a game to show for it, the Kent State football team has grown hungry.

The Flashes hope to hoist the Wagon Wheel high by defeating the Akron Zips in the team’s season finale Friday afternoon at Dix Stadium.

“It wasn’t really as bad as everyone kind of made it out to be,” Kent State coach Paul Haynes said of the team’s journey to Buffalo. “We kept them busy, and kept them going, and now it’s on to Akron.”

Kent State Fast Facts

  • According to the kentstatesports.com, 22 different Flashes (12 on offense, 10 on defense) have gotten their first career start this season.

  • Reardon is currently fifth in career completions (386), sixth in career passing yards (4,125) and seventh in career TD passes (24) in Kent State program history.

  • Kent State’s offensive line has allowed only one sack of Reardon in its last six games.

  • Senior tight end Casey Pierce has made 31 catches in four games for 301 yards and four touchdowns.

  • Junior Nate Terhune recorded 2.5 of Kent State’s 3.0 sacks at BGSU – the team’s most this season.

  • Senior receiver Chris Humphrey moved into fifth place in career receptions at KSU with 119.

  • Sophomore safety Nate Holley ranks third in the nation in total tackles (12.7) and fourth in solo tackles (7.1) per game.

  • Junior kicker/punter Anthony Melchiori ranks 18th in the nation with a 44.2 yard punting average. He’s placed nine of his last 13 punts inside the 20-yard line.

  • Sophomore Nick Holley has combined for 602 yards rushing/receiving over his last nine games.

  • Sophomore Elcee Refuge forced a fumble and had a career-high 12 tackles against the Falcons two weeks ago.

Sophomore starting quarterback said he hopes the trip, if anything, brought his teammates to together to build team unity as everyone prepares for one last game.

“The Buffalo trip was very different, but it was fun though,” Reardon said. “It was kind of just like a good team bonding experience. It almost felt like we were stuck in camp again minus the snow, but we made the best of it.”

The Flashes (1-9, 0-6 MAC) fell behind early and lost at Bowling Green, 30-20, the last time fans saw them in action way back on Nov. 12. Turnovers plagued the Flashes in the game against the Falcons, as Reardon threw four second-half interceptions to ultimately doom the come-from-behind effort.

With nothing to lose in what will be the Flashes’ last game of the 2014 campaign, Reardon hopes to bounce back this Friday against the Zips.

“It means everything because it’s our last opportunity to win a football game this season, and it’s against our rival,” Reardon said. “We’re just trying to do everything we can to get this last win.”

Kent State safety Jordan Italiano was named Mid-American Conference East Defensive Player of the Week two weeks ago for his performance against the Falcons. Italiano compiled nine solo tackles, an interception and a forced fumble in the loss.

“It’s a nice award to earn, and I’m honored,” Italiano said. “It means a ton to receive this honor, but obviously we didn’t come up with a win that game. I would much rather win the game. Those individual awards are nice to have, but I’d much rather have the team success.”

Team success is all fine and good, but the Zips (5-6, 3-4 MAC) will look to finish their season on a strong note, too, as they ride a two-game winning streak into Friday’s contest following a 30-6 drubbing of the University of Massachusetts last Tuesday night at InfoCision Stadium.

As for Kent State, after the Flashes’ showdown with Buffalo was cancelled, the game between Kent State and Akron was rescheduled for this Friday. The game will start at 1 p.m.

“This game is very important,” Haynes said. “It’s been an unsuccessful season, and we want to make sure that we send these seniors out the right way.”

Contact Taylor Rosen at [email protected]