Flashes football looks ahead

BRIAN+SMITH

BRIAN SMITH

Kevin Battaglia

If Kent State is out to prove to the college football world that last season’s 11-3 record was not a fluke, Thursday evening was a good start.

With new faces at key positions, including a new head coach, the Flashes used a combination of strong defense and a timely offense on their way to defeat Liberty 17-10 in front of a record-breaking opening day crowd.

The 20,790 fans were in attendance to witness the victory, including more than 7,000 students who set a new Dix Stadium record for student attendance.

“I thought it was great,” wide receiver Chris Humphrey said. “There was a lot of energy and fans. I was surprised when I came out and saw how many fans there were but I really enjoyed it. I hope they keep coming back.”

On Friday morning, head coach Paul Haynes reached out from his twitter account thanking “all the fans and students that came out” to the game Thursday evening.

Haynes and the Flashes can take away much more from Thursday’s game than a victory and a large attendance mark. Despite the offensive struggles at times, Kent State’s offense put together scoring drives at crucial possessions.

After starting the game on a 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive that lasted about eight minutes, Kent State’s next five offensive possessions ended in four punts and a fumble before the end of the first half.

The Flashes looked out of sync after losing running back Dri Archer to a left ankle injury on the second possession of the game. In a press conference Monday morning, Haynes said Archer twisted his ankle and listed him as “day-to-day.”

The loss of Archer delivered a hit to the Kent State offense but provided opportunities for other players to step up.

Quarterback Colin Reardon, a redshirt freshman who was making his first career start, led the Flashes on an 88-yard scoring drive that ended with a 42-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to break a 10-10 tie.

Junior running back Trayion Durham and senior receiver Tyshon Goode complimented Reardon with solid performances as well.

The Flashes only scored 17 points but limited the Flames’ opportunities to score by owning the time-of-possession statistic. Kent State held the ball for more than 37 minutes of play time compared to just more than 21 minutes for the Flames, allowing the Flashes’ defense to rest when it needed. Kent State also ran 77 plays to Liberty’s 44.

The defense held the Flames to three points and allowed 15 total yards in the first half. Led by senior defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix, the Flashes’ defense gave Liberty’s offense problems all game.

“Our defensive line had a crazy game,” defensive back Darius Polk said. “All night they rushed the passer. The defense played all night as a whole 11.”

The defensive line recorded three sacks for 21 yards.

Haynes said he was happy with the way the defense played but was not surprised.

“[The team] expected that out of our [defensive] line,” Haynes said. “Our D-line is the strength of our defense, and they played the way we expected them to play. We need to continue to get that out of them.”

Haynes thought his defense overall played well but acknowledged he is a hard grader.

“I’m kind of a little bit hard, C-plus.” Haynes said. “We gave up 10 points. We fought hard, [and] we played hard. It was fun to watch.”

Kevin Battaglia is a sports correspondent for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].