Flashes look to eliminate turnovers, move closer to bowl eligibility

Lance Lysowski


Senior defensive lineman Quinton Rainey saw a difference in some of Kent State’s practices during the team’s two-game losing streak.


“We are playing with a lot more emotion,” Rainey said. “I can see the smiles on each other’s faces and everything. There were a few practices where we were down and kind of out of it, so I’m just glad we’re playing with more emotion and practices have really picked up.”

Kent State coach Doug Martin preaches his team has to practice how they play.

It has shown the past two weeks.

The Flashes turned the ball over seven times in the past two weeks, while the defense could not force opponents into mishaps.

“We’ve got to create turnovers if we are going to win this football game,” Martin said. “We need to get our offense a short field, and our offense has to not turn the ball over. The turnover margin will dictate this football game.”

Kent State will use a combination of three quarterbacks for the second consecutive week as it looks to control the turnover margin.

Sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith has been limited with a sprain to his throwing hand, which affected his performance last week. Keith’s accuracy was on point last week, but his interception off a poor decision late in the second quarter forced Martin to send the sophomore to the bench for the remainder of the game.

Junior Giorgio Morgan and sophomore Sal Battles used a combination of a short passing game and an option attack to pace the Flashes’ 21 second-half points.

Morgan threw a 72-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Tyshon Goode in the fourth quarter, while Battles’ power running ability wore down Army’s defense.

“I thought we ran the ball really well, and that’s one of the things Giorgio and Sal kind of brought to the table,” Martin said. “Together, they had over 100 yards rushing combined. That brings another added dimension to the table. That helps your pass protection and it helps other things. Maybe all combined together, those guys can win a game for us.”

Kent State’s bid for bowl eligibility continues this week against Western Michigan. The Broncos possess the second-best scoring offense in the Mid-American Conference and the top passing offense, led by sophomore quarterback Alex Carder.

Carder has thrown for 2,920 yards, 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, but his ability to scramble from the pocket will test Kent State’s defense. The sophomore has rushed for 360 yards and six touchdowns, and the Broncos will look to top the Flashes’ pass defense with a combination of the two.

Rainey said that teams have been testing Kent State’s pass defense instead of running the ball against the nation’s third-best rush defense.

“It makes you feel good because you really only have to defend one thing,” Rainey said. “Running, to us, is second nature. We just have to worry about the pass and handle everything else from there.”

If the Flashes are going to move one game closer to becoming bowl eligible, they will have to do so with injuries on both sides of the ball.

Senior linebacker Cobrani Mixon and junior cornerback Josh Pleasant sat out last week. Mixon will return against the Broncos with a shoulder injury, while Pleasant is questionable this weekend with an ankle injury, which affects an already injured secondary.

Martin said having players who play with injuries, such as Mixon and senior safety Brian Lainhart, is important to succeed late in the season.

“You have to overcome those adversities, and go play with pain,” Martin said.

Contact Lance Lysowski at [email protected].