Flashes run into second-half troubles, fall to Bowling Green 41-22 in MAC Open


Red Shirt freshman quarterback Colin Reardon runs the ball in the game against Bowling Green on Saturday, September 7. The Flashes lost 22-41. Photo by Rachael Le Goubin.

Nick Shook

It was back-and-forth between Kent State and Bowling Green on Saturday for most of the first half, each team trading touchdowns with the other.

Then the second half arrived, and the endzone became a mystery to Kent State.

Bowling Green (2-0, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) outscored Kent State (1-1, 0-1 MAC) 17-0 in the second half on its way to a 41-22 victory over the Flashes Saturday at Dix Stadium in Kent.

“We gave up far too many [big plays],” head coach Paul Haynes said. “Big plays, broken coverages and things like that. You can’t win against a good football team giving up big plays.”

The Flashes posted three-and-outs on three of their four possessions in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Bowling Green started the third with a 41-yard field goal by Tyler Tate.

The next possession blew the game open in favor of the Falcons. BGSU quarterback Matt Johnson connected with wide receiver Ryan Burbrink for a 92-yard touchdown pass to give the Falcons a 34-22 lead.

“You’re trying to play coverage, we’re in a three-deep type scheme and they run four [verticals] and kind of split the zones and got us,” Haynes said of the touchdown pass. “Another touchdown, a one-yard run by William Houston early in the fourth quarter, gave Bowling Green a three-possession advantage and ended any hope of a Kent State comeback.

To Kent State quarterback Colin Reardon, the second-half struggles of the Flashes’ offense fell on the shoulders of the Flashes.

“We just weren’t executing,” Reardon said. “I take full blame for that. Some people got a little lazy, but that’s my fault. As a quarterback, you have to keep everybody’s head on. We came out [after halftime] a little lackadaisical and then from there just kind of went downward.”

“There were plays that were there,” Haynes said. “It was a drop here and there, a missed block here and there. They ran the same blitzes that they ran in the first half. It just comes down to, got to do a better job at coming out of the gate at halftime and it comes back to execution.”

It was a stark contrast to the first half, in which defenses were virtually nonexistent. The two teams racked up 555 yards of combined total offense in the first two quarters.

Bowling Green opened the game with a nine-play, 77-yard drive that ended in a one-yard Travis Greene touchdown run. Kent State countered with a 42-yard touchdown pass from Reardon to wide receiver Chris Humphrey, and converted a two-point attempt to take an 8-7 lead.

Bowling Green countered with a 30-yard field goal early in the second, to which Kent State answered with a 12-yard touchdown connection between Reardon and tight end Casey Pierce.

The teams traded scores, with Bowling Green completing a 35-yard pass to Shaun Joplin to set up a three-yard touchdown run by Andre Givens and giving the Falcons a 17-15 lead. That advantage was gone after the next drive, with Reardon scrambling 42 yards to put the Flashes in Falcons territory. Two plays later, running back Trayion Durham pounded his way across the goal line for a touchdown.

Bowling Green closed out its first-half with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Jared Cohen with 54 seconds left to take a 24-22 led into halftime.

The Falcons carried the football 46 times for 219 yards, many of which gained after first contact.

“It just simply wasn’t fundamental football,” said defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix, who finished with six total tackles, including four for loss and a sack. “We were there. We’ve got to be perfect every play. You can’t let good backs and good offenses get extra shots, extra yards.”

The road gets much tougher for Kent State this week, as the Flashes will travel to Baton Rouge, La., to take on Southeastern Conference contender No. 9 Louisiana State.

“This is week two,” Haynes said. “This ain’t the end of the season. If we just sit back and act like the world is over. The world ain’t over. We lost, we got beat, that’s it. We’ve been beaten before. But we’re going to come back strong as ever, we’re going to fight, get our road focus on, and that’s it.”

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected].