Football rolls RedHawks on senior night



Nick Shook

Tight end Casey Pierce tries hard to protect the ball in the game against Miami of Ohio University Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. The final score was 24-6, Kent State. Photo by Tim Si.

Paul Haynes said he wanted to send his seniors out the right way.

The Flashes did just that.

After falling behind early 3-0, Kent State reeled off 14 unanswered points, dominated defensively and secured its lead with a couple of scores in the second half to come away victorious, 24-6 against Miami on Wednesday at Dix Stadium.

The victory snapped a miserable five-game losing streak for the Flashes, and it came on an emotion-filled senior night when two seniors played some of their best football.

Defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix had one of his best games of the season, even if the statistics didn’t jump off the page after the game.

Nix’s stat line read four total tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss and a half-sack. But he was in the backfield all night, harassing both of Miami’s quarterbacks as part of a defense that recorded four sacks and seven total tackles for loss.

“When you see people tearing up because it’s their last home game in a Kent State uniform, it does something to you,” Nix said. “It makes you want to play.

“There’s a lot more high fives, good jobs. You feel for people,” Nix said. “The young guys feel for the older guys, and I felt for Dri (Archer) when he scored. He can’t score at Dix Stadium anymore. I can’t get any sacks at Kent State’s stadium anymore. When you just know it’s your last, you’ve just got to give it your all.”

While Nix led a defense that held Miami to 176 total yards, Archer helped Kent State’s offense gain 447 total yards, 300 of which coming on the ground. Archer contributed 83 yards to the rushing total, including a 20-yard touchdown run right up the middle in the third quarter that gave Kent State a comfortable 21-6 advantage.

“I might be a little guy, but I like running between the tackles,” Archer said. “My build is a little smaller, (but) I don’t like running outside. I like running between the tackles, seeing the hole and hitting the hole.”

Also in on the running party were junior running back Trayion Durham, who carried the ball 17 times for 109 yards and a touchdown, and running back Anthony Meray, who gained 69 yards on four carries of his own.

“These guys were excited about running it,” Haynes said. “I heard them on the sideline, Dri and Trayion talking about ‘We’re just going to switch off, we’re just going to keep pounding it and running it.’ They were excited about running the football and any time you’ve got your kids excited about running it, it seems to work a little bit better. It was good to see and we’ve got to be able to run the football to win.”

Quarterback Colin Reardon even scored a rushing touchdown of his own midway through the second quarter on a bootleg from 1 yard out. The Flashes lost Reardon to an apparent ankle injury late in the fourth quarter, allowing senior David Fisher to take the field at Dix Stadium for one final time.

Fisher led a drive down to the Miami 1 before fumbling on first and goal, turning the ball over for the final time in the game. Haynes said he expects Reardon, who completed 13 of 22 pass attempts for 147 yards, to be OK for the Flashes’ final game of the season Tuesday night at Ohio.

Kent State found the endzone in the first quarter when a 17-play, 61-yard drive ended with a 2-yard Durham touchdown run. Kicker Anthony Melchiori, once thought to be out for the season with a hamstring injury, entered the game to kick the extra point, his first of two successful attempts in the first half. Melchiori appeared again in the third to kick another extra point and converted a 23-yard field goal late in the fourth to push the Flashes’ lead to 24-6.

The victory appeared to come easily for the Flashes, who owned an advantage for more than 49 minutes of the game. But make no mistake, they had to earn it, and even dig out of an early hole.

Kent State’s opening possession was stalled by penalties, and when the first fourth down of the night arrived, the Flashes decided to get risky and run a fake punt. The attempt failed miserably, setting up the RedHawks at the Kent State 29 and leaving the door open for Miami to gain some early momentum. The RedHawks kicked a 32-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead, but that would be it Wednesday night for Miami.

“That was the worst fake in America, I think in the history of college football,” Haynes said with a laugh. “It was bad, it wasn’t executed the right way … He saw something different than he should have, and it was ugly. I’ll take the blame for that.”

Fortunately for the Flashes, it amounted to very little by the time the game ended, with Kent State on top for the first time since September.

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected].