Flashes football prepares for road challenge against Redhawks


Spencer Keith, senior quarterback, scores a touchdown during the second quarter of the rivalry game against Akron on Nov. 3. The Flashes beat the Zips 35-24. Photo by NANCY URCHAK.

Tim Dorst

The Kent State football team is looking to continue its unbeaten Mid-American Conference streak in a key divisional match-up this weekend.

The Flashes will take on the Miami Redhawks at 1 p.m. Saturday at Yager Stadium in Oxford, Ohio.

Stat Comparisons


Spencer Keith (Kent St.):123-211, 1,266 yards, 8 TDs, 3 INTs

David Fisher (Kent St.): 14-23, 230 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Zac Dysert (Miami): 213-347, 2,467 yards, 18 TDs, 9 INTs

Austin Boucher (Miami): 7-13, 82 yards, 0 TD, 0 INTs


Dri Archer (Kent St.): 97 carries, 892 yards, 9.2 avg, 10 TDs

Trayion Durham (Kent St.): 190 carries, 887, 4.7 avg, 11 TDs

Jamire Westbrook (Miami): 70 carries, 272 yards, 3.9 avg, 2 TDs

Zac Dysert (Miami): 75 carries, 224 yards, 3.0 avg, 1 TD

Kent State (8-1, 5-0 MAC) is hoping to extend its winning streak this season to eight games, which would be the Flashes’ longest such streak in their 90-year history. A win for the Flashes Saturday would also tie the team record for wins in a season set in 1973.

Head coach Darrell Hazell said, despite their 4-5 record this season, the Redhawks are not a team to be overlooked.

“They’re simplistic but sound,” Hazell said. “They’re very sound around the board, and offensively they have a great quarterback who knows how to make plays in big situations.”

The Redhawks are 3-2 against MAC opponents this season, including a 23-20 win against previously unbeaten Ohio Oct. 27. Hazell said the Flashes’ defense will need to prepare hard to counter Miami’s star quarterback Zac Dysert.

“He does a good job at keeping his head up and keeping plays alive with his feet,” Hazell said. “He’s a great player, and we need to do a good job with bottling him and making him have to throw perfect passes.”

Dysert threw for 242 yards last week against Buffalo, which moved him past former Redhawks and current Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Miami’s all-time passing yards list. Kent State is ranked 94th among Football Bowl Subdivision teams in defending the pass.

Hazell referred to the defense having a “bend-but-don’t-break” mentality, and junior defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix said playing defense is all about making stops when the pressure is high.

“They could have a 99-yard drive, but if you stop them on the 1 and the next play they fumble, you live to play another down,” Nix said. “No matter what it is, you just have to fight through it. That’s adversity smacking you in the face, and how you handle it determines the type of team you are.”

Much of the Flashes’ success could be credited to taking care of the football. The Flashes lead the nation with a plus-20 turnover margin — 28 turnovers gained, 8 lost — and senior quarterback Spencer Keith said having a big margin like that goes a long way toward winning football games.

“As long as we keep holding onto the ball and our defense keeps forcing turnovers, we’ll be in good shape,” Keith said. “We play well off of each other. They give us a short field, and we can cash it in for touchdowns. It’s a lot easier having 50 or 40 yards to go instead of 80 or 90.”

Keith is on pace to record a career low in interceptions, committing only three through nine games this season. Keith said going against a team like Miami, execution will be the key.

National FBS Rankings

Team Passing Rushing Pass Defense Rush Defense
Kent State 108th 21st 94th 46th
Miami (OH) 30th 115th 75th 115th

“They have an athletic defense which is hard to handle sometimes,” Keith said. “But as long as we execute our plays and eliminated mistakes like turnovers and penalties, we’ll be fine.”

Offensively, Kent State will likely to use the dynamic combination of junior running back Dri Archer and sophomore running back Trayion Durham to attack the Redhawks’ defensive unit. Kent State is 20th in the FBS in rushing yards per game, while Miami ranks near the bottom in rushing defense at 115th.

Senior offensive lineman Brian Winters said the Flashes’ front line has come a long way since he began his career with Kent State in 2009.

“We all realized before the season started that the offense isn’t going to go unless we go,” Winters said. “So that’s what we’ve been living by, and everyone’s on board. We know we can do special things together.”

Both Archer and Durham are close to hitting the 1,000-yard mark on the ground this season with three guaranteed games to go.

Kent State’s 35-24 win against Akron Saturday marked the third time this season the Flashes won a game after trailing in the fourth quarter. Hazell said he credits it to the team’s ability to stay calm no matter what the score is.

“They don’t panic,” Hazell said. “They play with a lot of poise, and I think that’s a big contributor to us being able to come back when we’re down like that.”

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].