Flashes cruise to 41-21 victory over Towson

Kent States Andre Parker recieves a muffed punt and runs in the wrong direction on the field during the first football game of the season, Thursday, August 30. Photo by Phil Botta.

Philip Botta

Kent State’s Andre Parker recieves a muffed punt and runs in the wrong direction on the field during the first football game of the season, Thursday, August 30. Photo by Phil Botta.

Tim Dorst, Jon Jankowski

KentWired Video

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Highlights voiced and shot by TV2 Sports Director Jon Jankowski. Follow TV2 Sports on Twitter @TV2KSUSports.

Fireworks lit up the night sky over Dix Stadium after Kent State’s season opener against the Towson Tigers, but junior Dri Archer decided to create some fireworks of his own on the field.

Archer returned a second-quarter kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown as the Flashes defeated the Tigers 41-21 Thursday night.

Archer, one of the fastest and most dynamic players on the roster, got opportunities to make plays early on in the game and made the most of the chances. Archer said he knew he’d have a good chance to make big plays against Towson’s special team unit.

“We did a good job setting up all of our blocks,” Archer said. “The field was open every time. I just hit the hole and our players set the blocks for me.”

The Flashes shot out of the gates right from the start of the game. Archer took the opening kickoff three yards deep in the end zone and returned it to Towson’s 43 yard line, giving the Flashes great field position for their first drive.

Senior quarterback Spencer Keith capped off the 11-play opening drive with a 6-yard touchdown run to put the Flashes up 7-0 early in the first quarter.

After the defense forced and recovered a Towson fumble, Archer continued his explosive start by taking a handoff 15 yards for a Kent State touchdown to extend their first quarter lead to 14.

Head Coach Darrell Hazell said he wished his team would have run the ball better overall, but he felt the offense did enough early to put pressure on the Tigers.

“I thought going into this one that Towson was a good football team, and I still feel that way,” Hazell said. “I’m happy for the win, but I know there’s a lot of things we need to improve upon. That’s just one game.”

Towson fumbled again, this time on the ensuing kickoff, and Kent State recovered the ball on the Tigers’ 34-yard line. Two plays later, senior kicker Freddy Cortez knocked a 35-yard field goal through the uprights.

The Tigers found their way onto the scoreboard late in the second quarter on a 6-yard touchdown by sophomore running back Terrance West, gaining the momentum for a short time.

On the very next kickoff, Archer caught the ball at the two-yard line, made one quick cutback and ran the rest of the way for a score, wiping out Towson’s touchdown and electrifying the fans in attendance. Archer said the play was a big momentum changer for Kent State.

“It was huge for us to score right after they did.” Archer said. “The blocks were there again and the hole just opened up for me. I didn’t get touched the whole time.”

Archer’s day wasn’t done. At the 2:18 mark in the third quarter, Archer swept right and found a hole in the defense on his way to an 18-yard touchdown, his third trip to the end zone in the game. The Flashes lead 34-7 by the end of the third quarter.

A bizarre moment occurred in the second half as freshman punter Anthony Melchiori punted the ball from the 42-yard line. The ball bounced off a Towson player and ended up in the hand of sophomore linebacker Andre Parker, who preceded to run the ball the wrong way up the field before being knocked out of bounds by two Tiger defenders.

Archer said most of the players on the sidelines started yelling at Parker that he was running towards the wrong end zone.

“I just started laughing,” Archer said. “It was something we could all have a good laugh about.

Junior quarterback David Fisher entered the game to begin the fourth quarter and wasted no time in making an impact in his first appearance. Fisher threw a screen pass to freshman wide receiver Josh Boyle who ran 63 yards for the touchdown, Boyle’s first career score and Fisher’s first as a member of the Flashes.

Kent State’s defense kept Towson in check for much of the game. The Flashes forced six turnovers, including four fumbles and an interception by senior defensive back Norman Wolfe Jr. Wolfe’s interception came after the Flashes’ offense had built a solid lead, and he said that was key in taking the pressure off of him and the rest of the defense.

“Just seeing the offense do a lot of good things and put points on the board is great,” Wolfe said.

Towson tacked on two scores in the fourth, an 1-yard touchdown run by West and a 4-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Grant Enders to junior tight end James Oboh.

The Flashes will now prepare to go on the road next week and face the Kentucky Wildcats on Sept. 8, and Coach Hazell said it is important for his team to take what they learned from this game and continue to build on it.

“It’s very important that we keep getting better,” Hazell said. “You need to be able to make your best improvement betweens games one and two. That’s what we’re going to work on.”

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