Turnovers plague Flashes in loss to Army

Lance Lysowski

Kent State’s four turnovers against Army give the Flashes 24 on the season.

The team’s play is frustrating to Kent State coach Doug Martin.

“Until our players grasp the idea of taking care of the football, they’re not going to win football games,” Martin said. “We’ve been preaching this here forever and it’s yet to sink in for whatever reason. Either they’re physically unable to do it, won’t do it, mentally aren’t able to grasp it or whatever. “

The most critical of the four turnovers came from the arm of sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith.

Keith lobbed a pass down field to junior wide receiver Sam Kirkland, and overthrew his receiver by five yards.

The pass was intercepted and Keith found himself watching from the sidelines for the rest of the game.

Martin said Keith ignored the intended play call by trying to make a play that was not there.

“Spencer played well until that interception he threw, which is inexcusable because that was a throw back to the running back and he was told to throw the ball to the running back, if he’s not open, throw it away,” Martin said. “He threw a post route to Sam Kirkland. That’s why he came out of the game.”

From the start of the game, Martin used three quarterbacks to compensate for Keith’s injured thumb. Junior Giorgio Morgan and sophomore Sal Battles both came in to run option plays to confuse Army’s defense.

While Battles rushed for 43 yards and Morgan threw two touchdown passes, both turned the ball over, costing the Flashes a comeback attempt.

Morgan threw two second half interceptions when he overthrew receivers and Battles fumbled with just over three minutes left in the third quarter.

“It all just came to staying in the offense,” Morgan said. “Coach Martin coaches us up every time we were on the sideline and we would rotate, so the second half came a little bit easier to us because we knew where they were going to run, where they were going to be. It’s just a matter of executing.”

The turnovers took their toll on Kent State’s defense.

Army was able to wear the Flashes down using their option attack with a combination of play action passes. With a tough scheme to match up against, it took time for Kent State to slow the Black Knights down.

Army scored 28 points in the first half; extending offensive drives with three third down conversions and two fourth down conversions in Kent State territory to set up touchdowns.

Senior safety Brian Lainhart said the game came down to the defense not being able to force an Army turnover.

“We knew all along they really start out fast in the first half,” Lainhart said. “They scored 21 against Temple in the first half or 28 and didn’t score in the second half. The same thing happened against Eastern Michigan. They only scored seven points in the second half. It took us a while to get adjusted to it.”

“They got a couple of long runs in the beginning of the game, big plays and we finally settled down. We didn’t get any turnovers and when the offense gets turnovers, we have to come back and match them, and we just didn’t do that.”

While Morgan did struggle at times making throws down field, he completed 5-of-9 passes for 122 yards and two touchdown passes. Morgan’s 72-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Tyshon Goode was the Flashes’ longest play from scrimmage this season and narrowed Kent State’s deficit to 14 points.

Martin said that no matter who taking the snaps at quarterback, the Flashes will not win their final games if they turn the ball over.

“Everything goes back to turnovers, and I’m just telling you, until our offense takes care of the ball, they won’t win a game.”

Contact Lance Lysowski at [email protected].