Flashes football snaps losing streak with road win at Western Michigan


Kent State wide receiver James Brook tries to avoid being tackled by the Penn State defensive line during Saturday’s game. Kent State lost the game to Penn State 34-0. Photo by Melanie Nesteruk.

Nick Shook

Kent State headed to Kalamazoo, Mich., Saturday with a burden on its collective shoulders.

Three straight losses had left the Flashes desperate for a victory, and with their second conference game of the season they found just that.

Kent State lifted that burden with a convincing 32-14 conference win over Western Michigan at Waldo Stadium.

“Good win, big win for us,” Flashes head coach Paul Haynes said. “Anytime we go on the road and get a victory in the conference it’s good.”

Saturday night marked the return of two key players on the Flashes’ offense — running back Dri Archer and offensive lineman Pat McShane — and it showed on the field.

Archer’s early catches helped the Flashes (2-3, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) move into Western Michigan (0-5, 0-1 MAC) territory multiple times in the first quarter, and with McShane rejoining the line, Kent State found much more success on the ground.

Running back Trayion Durham finally broke out of his struggles, carrying the ball 26 times for 154 yards and two touchdowns, and wide receiver Tyshon Goode (five catches, 57 yards) also made an impact for the Flashes, who moved the ball rather efficiently.

The Flashes’ offense showed some of its versatility that dominated the 2012 season, thanks in part to Archer, but it was Durham who finished the Flashes’ third possession with a 5-yard touchdown run to put Kent State ahead 7-0 just before the end of the first.

“It felt good being back out there with my teammates, just having fun, playing football, doing what we love to do,” said Archer, who finished the game with four catches for 48 yards and also carried the ball six times for 73 yards.

A fumble on third and long by quarterback Colin Reardon on the next possession gave Western Michigan the ball deep in Kent State territory, and they took advantage of the opportunity. Broncos running back Brian Fields scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7 early in the second quarter.

Kent State answered with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Reardon to Archer — his first of the season — and a catch by long snapper Chad Bushley in the endzone completed a two-point conversion to give the Flashes a 15-7 lead.

Reardon completed 17 of 30 pass attempts for two touchdowns, but also threw an interception just before halftime. The turnover didn’t affect much in the game, as the Flashes’ defense stood strong again to keep WMU from capitalizing.

Reardon also gained some ground with his feet, carrying the ball 11 times for 44 yards.

“Finally, all three phases, we talked about all three phases coming together and playing well,” Haynes said. “We still got it, kind of in waves but we pretty much did a really good job with all three phases coming together.”

Western Michigan scored early in the second half to bring the Broncos within one point of the Flashes, but Kent State responded on the ensuing 55-yard drive that ended with Durham’s second touchdown.

Reardon found tight end Casey Pierce in the back of the endzone for his third touchdown catch of the season early in the fourth. Western Michigan’s comeback attempt stalled on fourth down, when Broncos quarterback Tyler van Tubbergen was intercepted by Flashes safety Luke Wollet.

Durham’s 65-yard run on the next possession put Kent State in field goal range, and Anthony Melchiori successfully converted an attempt to push the Flashes’ lead to 32-14.

The Flashes, who had previously struggled mightily on third down, converted 9 of 16 third downs against the Broncos, an encouraging statistic for an offense that will need to do more of that next week when it faces Northern Illinois (4-0).

The Flashes’ defense will have its toughest task of the season on its hands Saturday when the Huskies’ come to Dix Stadium in a rematch of the 2012 MAC Championship Game.

Kickoff for the contest, which doubles as Kent State’s homecoming game, is set for 3:30 p.m.

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected].