Flashes football defeats Western Michigan for fifth straight win

Kent+State+running+back+Dri+Archer+weaves+his+way+through+the+Western+Michigan+defense+during+the+Homecoming+Game+in+Dix+Stadium+on+Oct.+20.+The+Flashes+won+the+game+against+The+Broncos+41-24.+Photo+by+BRIAN+SMITH.

Kent State running back Dri Archer weaves his way through the Western Michigan defense during the Homecoming Game in Dix Stadium on Oct. 20. The Flashes won the game against The Broncos 41-24. Photo by BRIAN SMITH.

Tim Dorst

Kent State’s winning ways continued in front of an electric crowd on Homecoming weekend.

The Flashes earned its fifth victory in a 41-24 win over the Western Michigan University Broncos at Dix Stadium Saturday.

A crowd of 16,128 witnessed the Flashes improve its record to 6-1 and officially become eligible to go to the team’s first bowl game since 1972.

Coach Darrell Hazell said he thought the team showed a lot of poise and character after losing the lead in the third quarter.

“We got ourselves down and managed to fight back,” Hazell said. “Our defense stifled (the Broncos) when they needed to, and the offense made enough plays to get the lead back and keep it going.”

With the Broncos leading 24-17 late in the third, senior quarterback Spencer Keith led the Flashes down the field, completing five of his first seven passes on the drive. On third-down and 14 with the ball on Western Michigan’s 17-yard line, freshman wide receiver Josh Boyle made a diving catch in the back corner of the end zone — tying the game once again.

The Flashes regained the lead on a big drive in the fourth quarter. Junior running back Dri Archer gained 33 yards on a screen pass from Keith, which was followed by a 33-yard run by sophomore running back Trayion Durham.

Archer capped off the 85-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run, his second of the day. The big play gave Kent State a 31-24 lead.

Senior defensive lineman Dana Brown intercepted a pass from Western Michigan quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen on the first play of the Broncos’ ensuing drive. The Flashes capitalized on the turnover as senior kicker Freddy Cortez booted a 43-yard field through the uprights to extend the lead to 10.

With the field goal, Cortez tied former Kent State quarterback Joshua Cribbs as the all-time scoring leader in team history with 246 career points.

The Broncos were threatening to score again late in the fourth when senior linebacker C.J. Malauulu forced a fumble from running back Brian Fields. Senior linebacker Luke Batton scooped up the ball and ran 83 yards for a Kent State touchdown — sealing the win for the Flashes.

“C.J. gave him a big hit, and I was right there on the play,” Batton said. “I just picked it up and ran with it, just trying to make a big play. Everything worked out for me on that.”

Batton had 14 tackles in the game to lead the defense to force six Western Michigan turnovers.

The Flashes busted out of the gates in the first quarter, scoring on the team’s opening drive on a 22-yard touchdown run by Archer. The Broncos responded later in the first quarter with an 81-yard pass from Van Tubbergen to receiver Josh Schaffer, which tied the game at seven.

Cortez gave Kent State the lead again early in the second with a 46-yard field goal, his longest of the season. Later in the quarter, Durham extended the lead with a 19-yard touchdown run, and the Flashes lead 17-7 at halftime.

Durham had a game-high 124 yards on 19 carries.

The Flashes will take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey Saturday.

The Scarlet Knights are currently ranked No. 19 in the Associated Press College Football rankings.

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].