Building familiarity with the Flashes

Christian Petrila

With the Kent State Golden Flashes destined for their first bowl appearance since 1972 Tangerine Bowl. In fact, it’s been so long since the Flashes made a bowl appearance that the Tangerine Bowl was renamed the Capital One Bowl 30 years ago. Before that, however, comes KSU’s matchup against Northern Illinois for the MAC Championship on Friday. Here are some players to keep track of during the game.

Dri Archer is the team’s one-man highlight reel. Archer is a junior who was academically ineligible last season. This season, he has captivated the nation with runs that have been a jaw-dropping display of speed and elusiveness. Archer has rushed for 1337 yards on just 138 attempts. That’s good for an average of 9.7 yards per carry, which would break the NCAA record of 9.4 set by Oklahoma’s Greg Pruitt set back in 1971. On top of that, Archer has also caught 30 passes for 458 yards and four touchdowns. If that wasn’t enough, he has also returned three kickoffs for touchdowns, which helped him win MAC Special Teams Player of the Year. And the icing on the cake is that he has completed the only pass he attempted for a touchdown. Good to see Archer put his 4.21 40-yard dash time to good use.

Trayion Durham is, as head coach Darrell Hazell described him, the thunder to Dri Archer’s lightning. While Archer is fast and elusive, Durham is 6’, 250 lbs of pure pain for defenders. His numbers aren’t quite as flashy (no pun intended) as Archer’s, but they’re still very good. He has run for 1176 yards on 236 attempts and 14 touchdowns. Durham has been consistent for the Flashes all season, converting time and time again in key situations, including two touchdown runs on separate 4th and one plays against Akron. The type of dynamic running game he and Archer bring have given opposing defenses headaches all season.

Spencer Keith is the team’s senior quarterback. After last season, Hazell brought in junior college transfer David Fisher as a result of Keith’s regular struggles. The addition of Fisher motivated Keith, as he won the starting job and improved in all aspects. He has completed 57 percent of his passes for a total of 1674 yards and 11 touchdowns. In Kent State’s win against Rutgers, Keith passed Josh Cribbs as the school’s all-time leader in career passing yards.

Luke Wollet is the junior safety out of Poland, Ohio. Wollet has made an all-MAC team his last two seasons with the Flashes. He was Third Team All-MAC last season and Second Team All-MAC this year. However, fans feel as though he should have been on the first team. He has started all 12 games and has recorded 99 tackles on the season, which is good for second on the team. Although he doesn’t have a sack, he has forced a fumble, recovered a fumble which he returned for a touchdown against Ohio and intercepted four passes. One of those interceptions was in the endzone against Bowling Green to help the Flashes clinch the MAC East title.

Luke Batton is the other half of the Luke tandem for Kent State. He is a senior linebacker out of Macedonia, Ohio. Like Wollet, he was named to the All-MAC Third Team last season and Second Team All-MAC this year. Batton has arguably been Kent State’s most consistent defender on the season. He has recorded a whopping 119 tackles to lead the team. He has 3.5 sacks and, like Wollet, has forced a fumble. Batton has recovered four fumbles too, one of which he ran for 83 yards and a touchdown against Western Michigan. Batton also has two interceptions on the year.

Roosevelt Nix is a junior with possibly the highest NFL potential on the team. Nix has been named to the First Team All-MAC all three seasons, including being named MAC Defensive Player of the Year his freshman year – the first time a freshman had ever won the award. This season, he has recorded 49 tackles, including 14 for a loss and 5.5 sacks. He has forced three fumbles and recovered one.

So there are some players to watch this Friday. The game is at Ford Field in Detroit, and kicks off at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

Contact Christian Petrila at [email protected].