Flashes fall 47-14 to Kentucky Wildcats

Tim Dorst

Going into the game against the University of Kentucky, Kent State knew it had a major challenge ahead of it.

Facing a team from the SEC under the bright lights of Commonwealth Stadium is no easy task for any team, but the Flashes went into this game wanting to prove that a Mid-American Conference team should not be taken lightly.

Kent State took the first lead, but Kentucky had the last laugh in a 47-14 win over the Flashes Saturday night in Lexington, Ky.

Head Coach Darrell Hazell said the end result of the game was not what he expected.

“I thought they did a good job pressuring us, especially with their hurry-up” Hazell said “I thought we missed a few opportunities that we could’ve capitalized on and we gave up way too many big play.”

Many of those big plays came against the Flashes’ pass defense, as Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith completed 30 of 39 passes for 354 yards and 4 TDs. Hazell said the Flashes let the game get away from them after the second quarter.

“We moved the ball well offensively overall, but we need to get a lot better as a football team,” Hazell said.

Junior defensive end Jake Dooley said he was disappointed with the way he and the rest of the defensive unit played in such a big-game atmosphere.

“That was not Kent State defense,” Dooley said. “We need to just take a look in the mirror and really evaluate ourselves. We need to be a lot better than that.”

The night started off nicely for the Flashes, who relied on their running game for much of the first quarter. After quarterback Spencer Keith scrambled 15 yards for a first down. junior running back Dri Archer showcased his speed once again, bursting through the Kentucky defense for a 47-yard touchdown. Kent State took an early 7-0 lead off of the run.

Unfortunately for the Flashes, the lead didn’t last long. Less than a minute into the second quarter, Smith zipped a pass to wide receiver Aaron Boyd for a 14-yard touchdown to even up the score at seven.

After a missed field goal by Kent State kicker Freddy Cortez later, the Wildcats snatched the lead away from the Flashes when running back Raymond Sanders ripped off a 67-yard touchdown run at the 8:00 mark in the second quarter.

Kentucky got the ball again after another missed field goal by Cortez with 47 seconds to go in the first half. Instead of opting take a knee and send the game to halftime, the Wildcats played on, and it paid off for them. Kentucky kicker Craig McIntosh made a 47 yard field as the first-half clock expired, making the score 17-7 going into the half.

The Flashes weren’t about to throw in the towel. On their first drive in the second half, sophomore running back Trayion Durham ran left of center and shook off tacklers on his way to a 26-yard touchdown, cutting Kentucky’s lead to seven.

The Wildcats answered right back on the following drive. Wide receiver Gene McCaskill made a leaping catch in the end zone for the touchdown to extend the lead back to 10.

On the ensuing drive for the Flashes, Archer took a big hit from a Kentucky linebacker and fumbled the ball, allowing the Wildcats to recover on the Kent State seven-yard line. However, the Kent State defense denied the Wildcats of a score after four attempts to punch it into the end zone.

The Flashes received the ball back, but Archer tripped over Keith’s foot after the handoff and fell into his own end zone, awarding Kentucky with a safety. The Wildcats followed up with a 38-yard touchdown run by Jonathan George to take a 33-14 lead.

Kentucky tacked on two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to extend its lead even more and put the game out of the Flashes’ reach.

Coach Hazell said the player will take a long look at the tape of this game in order to try to fix what went wrong against the Wildcats.

“Other teams will watch that tape and try to figure out what they need to do to beat us.” Hazell said. “The biggest thing we need to do is find the solution to that and to adjust to a fast-tempo offense.”

The Flashes get an extended break from action before opening up their MAC schedule at Buffalo on Wednesday, Sept. 19.

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].