Flashes fall short in GoDaddy.com Bowl

Tim Dorst, Grant Engle

MOBILE, Ala. — Four points were all that separated the Kent State Golden Flashes from

claiming its first bowl game win in team history Sunday night. Trailing in the fourth quarter, the

Flashes needed one or two more big plays to make one last late-game comeback victory.

Unfortunately for the Flashes, those big plays never came, and Kent State came up just short

of fulfilling its ultimate goal.

The Arkansas State Red Wolves held on to defeat the Flashes 17-13 in the 14th annual

GoDaddy.com Bowl Sunday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, as the Flashes’ historic football season

ends with a hard-fought loss.

Kent State finishes with an 11-3 overall record, capping off the best season in Flashes

football history.

Head coach Darrell Hazell said this was a tough loss for the players to handle considering

how badly they wanted to win this game.

“We really would’ve liked to get to one” Hazell said. “We obviously didn’t make a lot of

plays offensively in the red zone, and [the Red Wolves’] defense did a great job at keeping us

contained. Give a lot of credit to Arkansas State and the job their staff did.”

Both defenses started the game off strongly as neither team allowed the other to score in the

first quarter. The Flashes had an opportunity to score in the first quarter with the ball on the Red

Wolves’ three-yard line, but senior quarterback Spencer Keith’s pass was deflected and

intercepted by linebacker Nathan Herrold in the end zone.

The Flashes changed the momentum of the game on their first drive of the second quarter

when junior running back Dri Archer took a handoff and scrambled his way 44 yards down to the

Red Wolves’ 22-yard line.

After a pass interference penalty on Arkansas State, Archer got the ball again on an end-

around handoff and took it 16 yards for the touchdown. The play gave Kent State the first lead of

the game.

“It was a play we worked into our game plan a few weeks ago,” Archer said. “Once I got the

ball, I knew I had to make one guy miss. After that, I knew I had it.”

The Red Wolves gained momentum later on in the quarter by utilizing a no-huddle offense

that caught the Flashes off guard on a few occasions. Hazell said Arkansas State found a way to

keep the Flashes’ defense off balance throughout the contest.

“We didn’t execute as well as I would’ve liked us to,” Hazell said. “They went with the

quick offense, and we had a hard time getting lined up at times. I think we could’ve done a better

job with that.”

A 60-yard Arkansas State drive ended with a 10-yard touchdown run by running back David

Oku, tying the game at seven with 5:40 left in the first half.

Arkansas State’s subsequent drive was very similar, and the fast-paced play-calling forced

the Flashes to scramble when setting up their defense. The Red Wolves snatched the lead away

from the Flashes on a 31-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Aplin to wide receiver

J.D. McKissic.

Kent State responded with a 42-yard field goal by senior kicker Freddy Cortez, but Arkansas

State took a 14-10 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Red Wolves continued to move the ball well early in the second half and threatened to

extend its lead by another touchdown. Kent State’s defense held tough in the shadow of its own

end zone and held Arkansas State to a 25-yard field goal — keeping it a one-possession game. </</p>


The Flashes cut into the lead once again after a solid drive that included a 15-yard screen

pass from Keith to sophomore running back Trayion Durham. Cortez converted another field

goal — a 26-yarder this time — and the Flashes were back within four points as the game shifted

to the fourth quarter.

Defense once again controlled the game for the early half of the fourth quarter, both teams

forcing the other to punt multiple times. The Flashes needed one more touchdown to take the

lead and almost got it on their final drive after a fourth-down conversation on a pass from Keith

to senior receiver Matt Hurdle.

After a pass to sophomore receiver Chris Humphrey went through Humphrey’s hands and

fell incomplete in the end zone, Keith attempted to scramble for the first down on a fourth down

and eight. The Red Wolves defense got to Keith and dragged him down short of the first-down

marker, forcing a turnover on downs and ending any hope of a Flashes comeback.

“We just needed to do a better job at executing more plays when we had to,” Keith said. “On

that last play I managed to try to scramble for the first down because I saw the defense back up a

lot, and I thought I could get it.”

Despite the season ending with a loss, Keith said he felt Hazell did a great job with turning

the program around.

“We had a record-breaking season, and all the players and coaches worked toward a main

goal,” Keith said. “I’m sure a lot of people are sad that [Hazell] is leaving because he’s a great

man and a great coach. It’s sad to see him go.”

The 2012 MAC Coach of the Year will be on the Purdue football team’s sidelines next

season, but Hazell said that doesn’t change the emotions he has toward the players on the Kent

State team.

“This game was a rough one, but I obviously have some very strong feelings for the guys in

that locker room,” Hazell said. “I love those guys, and they know that.”

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected] and on Twitter @TimmyD_DKS.


11:21 CST

Thanks to everyone who followed along. Be sure to check Kentwired at 6 p.m. Monday for the downloadable commemorative bowl coverage. The section will also be available in the first edition of the Daily Kent Stater Jan. 14.

11:15 CST

Congratulations to the Arkansas State Red Wolves on winning the 2013 GoDaddy.com Bowl. They’re defense did enough to neutralize the Flashes running game, and that was enough to get the win.

11:10 CST

The Red Wolves will run out the clock and win the game 17-13. The Flashes will finish the season 11-3. Despite the loss, the Flashes season will be measured as a success.

11:07 CST

Kent State can’t convert on fourth down, and the season will end with two-consecutive losses.

11:04 CST

The Flashes call a time out as they face another fourth and eight. This time they’re on the ASU 25 yard line.

11:03 CST

The Flashes convert on fourth down, but Spencer Keith took a hard hit in the backfield. David Fisher came in for one play, and Keith has returned to the field.

11:01 CST

The Flashes don’t convert on third down. They are looking at a fourth and eight on the 42 yard line. This is the game for the Flashes.

10:58 CST

Dri Archer is on the sideline. He was shaken up late in the third quarter. No word on his injury.

10:54 CST

ASU gets near midfield, but they’re forced to punt. The Flashes will start at their own 23 yard line with 4:50 remaining. Kent State has to score a TD on this drive to have a realistic chance to win the game.

10:49 CST

Anthony Melchiori shows off his punting accuracy. His kick is downed at the five yard line. The Red Wolves will have to go nearly the length of the entire field to score.

10:46 CST

The Flashes are forced to punt. The offense has been grinding for every yard, and they’ve been bogged down at midfield for much of the game.

10:43 CST

Spencer Keith throws a bullet to Tim Erjavec for a first down. The Flashes are on the ASU 43 yard line.

10:38 CST

Darius Polk sacks ASU QB Ryan Aplin for a nine-yard loss on third down. The Red Wolves punt, and the Flashes will start at their own 25 yard line.

10:34 CST

Anthony Melchiori absolutely crushes a punt 63 yards. The Red Wolves will start from their own 16 yard line.

10:31 CST

That defensive stop could be huge for the Flashes. The defense needed a momentum boost.

10:29 CST

That’s the end of the third quarter. The Flashes trail 17-13.

10:28 CST

ASU wide receiver Darion Griswold drops a pass on third down and the Red Wolves are forced to punt. The Flashes will start the drive on their own 14 yard line.

10:26 CST

ASU starts at their own 33 and complete a 12-yard pass on the first play of the drive for a first down.

10:21 CST

The Flashes can’t punch the ball into the endzone. Freddy Cortez drains a 26-yard FG. The Flashes trail 17-13 with 1:44 remaining in the third quarter.

10:17 CST

ASU is getting a heavy dose of Trayion Durham on this drive. He is running angry and driving the Flashes down the field.

10:13 CST

The Flashes will start at their own 41 yard line after another short kick. ASU is conceding a lot of field position on kickoffs to avoid kicking to Dri Archer.

10:09 CST

The Kent State defense bends but doesn’t break. They force the Red Wolves to kick a FG. The ASU kicker drains the kick, and the Red Wolves lead 17-10 with 8:35 remaining in the third quarter.

10:06 CST

Darius Polk called for pass interference on a third down play. The penalty extends the drive for ASU, and they capitalize with another first down, and here comes the no-huddle offense again.

10:01 CST

The Red Wolves pick up the fumbled punt return and advance the ball to their own 45 yard line.

9:59 CST

The Flashes are stopped on third down. Anthony Melchiori punts.

9:56 CST

ASU squibs the opening kickoff of the second half to stay away from Dri Archer. The Flashes will start from their own 37 yard line.

9:48 CST

Per usual, Dri Archer leads the way with 93 yard of offense and a TD in the first half. It was Archer’s 23rd TD of the season.

9:38 CST

The Flashes held ASU to only 46 total yards in the first quarter. The Red Wolves went to the no-huddle in the second quarter and gained 132 yards and scored two touchdowns.

9:36 CST

You have to think the Flashes will focus on stopping the no-huddle offense in the second half. They can’t allow the Red Wolves to score so quickly and wear out the defense.

9:33 CST

The Red Wolves kneel the ball after the kickoff, and we go to halftime. ASU leads 14-10. The Flashes will receive the ball to start the second half.

9:31 CST

The drive stalls, and Freddy Cortez drills a 42-yard FG to make the score 14-10.

9:30 CST

The Flashes use a pair of big pass plays to get the ball to the ASU 25 yard line. There are 31 seconds remaining, and KSU is looking at a third and eight.

9:25 CST

Ryan Aplin throws to a wide open J.D. McKissic of ASU for a 31-yard TD pass. The Red Wolves take a 14-7 lead. ASU drove 88 yards in 2:12.

9:24 CST

ASU calls its first timeout. It’s second and one at the KSU 31 yard line with 1:20 left in the first half.

9:21 CST

ASU driving again. The Flashes are having a tough time defending the no-huddle offense of the Red Wolves. ASU is in Kent State territory at the 45 yard line.

9:19 CST

Anthony Melchiori booms a 44-yard punt. It’s downed at the Red Wolves 12 yard line.

9:17 CST

The Flashes drive stalls, and they will be forced to punt the ball back to the Red Wolves.

9:12 CST

ASU avoids kicking off to Dri Archer. That has been a common theme every week after the fourth game of the season.

9:10 CST

The Red Wolves made great offensive adjustments on that drive. The Flashes will have to counter with changes of their own the next time the defense takes the field.

9:08 CST

The Red Wolves methodically drive down the field and score a TD on a David Oku 10-yard run. The game is tied at seven with 5:40 to go in the first half.

9:06 CST

ASU starting to go to the no-huddle offense and moving the ball effectively. The Flashes have had difficulty defending the no-huddle all season.

9:02 CST

The Flashes are forced to punt. ASU will take over at their own 40 yard line.

8:57 CST

The Flashes take over with 9:57 remaining in the half and a seven-point lead.

8:55 CST

Dana Brown and Roosevelt Nix on the KSU defensive line are manhandling Arkansas State. They force the Red Wolves to lose yardage on all three plays. ASU punts to Eric Adeyemi, who returns the ball to the 16 yard line.

8:53 CST

ASU takes the kick all the way to the KSU 39 yard line. The penalties on Hurdle could end up being very costly.

8:51 CST

The Red Wolves will likely start with great field position after KSU wide receiver Matthew Hurdle was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and a personal foul for removing his helmet on the field in celebration. The Flashes will kick from their own 10 yard line.

8:49 CST

Freddy Cortez makes the extra point. The Flashes lead 7-0 with 12:10 remaining in the first half.

8:48 CST

Dri Archer flies into the endzone for a Flashes TD.

8:46 CST

The Flashes take a shot at the endzone on third and 19. Pass interference called on ASU. The Flashes have a first down at the 16 yard line.

8:44 CST

Dri Archer bobs and weaves to the ASU 22 yard line. Archer racks up another big gain in his career with the 44-yard run.

8:38 CST

The Flashes defense is flying around the field. They force a third-consecutive punt. Eric Adeyemi makes a fair catch at the 33 yard line.

8:36 CST

That’s the end of the first quarter. The game is tied at zero, which is a bit of a surprise. Both teams averaged more than 30 points per game this season.

8:33 CST

The Flashes drive stalls at the 25 yard line. Anthony Melchiori’s punt is downed at the Red Wolves 33 yard line.

8:30 CST

Spencer Keith delivers a strike to Matthew Hurdle for a first down to the 20 yard line. Excellent throw by Keith.

8:26 CST

The Red Wolves drive about 25 yards, but the Flashes defense forces another punt. The kick is downed at the six yard line. First and 10 for the Flashes.

8:18 CST

A Spencer Keith pass is tipped and intercepted in the endzone. ASU will start from the 20 yard line. That’s a costly early turnover by the Flashes.

8:14 CST

The Flashes have started with a bang on offense. The team has rattled off four first downs and have the ball on the ASU one yard line.

8:10 CST

After some technical difficulties in the press box in Mobile, Ala., the Kentwired live blog is up and running. In case you missed it, the Flashes have forced a ASU punt on the first drive. KSU will take over at their 30 yard line.