Video: Kent State loses, gives up Wagon Wheel

Nick Shook, Tyler Carey

As the Akron Zips (3-7, 2-4 Mid-American Conference) celebrated their first victory over the Flashes (2-8, 1-5 MAC) since 2009 on Saturday, Kent State head coach Paul Haynes sat in a nearby press room, reflecting on his team’s latest loss.

“We’ve got to do a lot of things better because we affect the outcome,” Haynes said. “We didn’t do everything that we needed to do to get the job done.”

Kent State was behind early after a double pass resulted in a 33-yard touchdown for Akron, but the Flashes started off well, moving down to the Akron 45 before stalling and punting. Kent State showed more of the same ability to move the football on the next possession, gaining 25 yards in three plays.

Running back Dri Archer took a handoff 15 yards into Akron territory and then fumbled the ball at the Zips’ 40, where it was recovered by Akron safety Johnny Robinson, killing a drive for Kent State.

“Bottom line is you can’t turn the ball over in games like this,” Haynes said. “When you’ve got drives going and you stub yourself by turning the ball over, the ball is the program. We’ve said that since day one. So when the ball is on the ground, the program is on the ground. And we cannot allow that to happen.”


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Video by Tyler Carey

Archer touched the ball a mere five times following the turnover, but it wasn’t just a lack of plays called for him. Chances for him to make plays were lost with passes thrown above and behind him, as well as those hitting him in the hands and falling to the ground as incompletions.

“We threw the ball to him. He just dropped a couple,” Haynes said. “They’re going to double him all the time, which they usually do a lot of times, but we had some opportunities to get him the ball. He ran the ball in the second half on some plays and got some plays, but other people got to step up when they’re doubling him.”

Quarterback Colin Reardon, making his first start against Akron, completed 15 of 31 passes for 138 yards. But the worst part showed in the interception category, as he was picked off three times by Akron defenders.

“We never forgive turning over the ball,” Haynes said. “You’ve got to play within yourself and take what’s given to you. Turnovers are never excused.

“It’s probably a young kid, playing young. It’s hit him, and he’s got to understand, and he will. He’ll learn from this stuff. The good thing about being a freshman is you become a sophomore. He’ll learn from it. He’ll understand it but it’s growing pains. And it’s tough on our seniors to lose a game like this.”

Penalties also held the Flashes back on multiple occasions and allowed Akron to extend drives of its own. Kent State committed four penalties, totaling 40 yards in the first quarter alone, and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on senior defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix midway through the fourth allowed Akron to gain 15 extra yards after converting a first down on third and 7.

That drive midway through the fourth ended in a 29-yard field goal by kicker Robert Stein, his third successful attempt of the afternoon, which put Akron ahead by two possessions and made Kent State’s attempt at a comeback that much more difficult.

On the next possession, Reardon threw his second interception of the day, a diving grab by senior cornerback Malachi Freeman with 3:46 left to play.

The Flashes got the ball back again, trailing by nine with 2:40 remaining, but Reardon was intercepted again at Akron’s 17 by junior cornerback Martel Durant, ending any hope of a Kent State comeback and securing a victory and Akron’s reclaiming of the Wagon Wheel.

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected].