Last-minute turnover disrupts Flashes’ comeback bid

Lance Lysowski

On second down and a minute to play, Keith rolled out to his right, trying to find sophomore wide receiver Tyshon Goode in the back of the end zone. With every option covered, Keith tried to give Goode an opportunity at a jump ball with a lob pass and the receiver double-covered. The pass was intercepted by a Miami defender to halt the comeback attempt.

Kent State’s attempt at winning three straight contests against the RedHawks came to an end, with a 27-21 loss on Saturday.

While Miami’s offensive drives, on average, began at their own 21 yard line, Kent State’s began at their own 37. The Flashes failed to take advantage.

Keith’s two interceptions came inside RedHawks territory on first and second down respectively. Two more drives Kent State had in within Miami’s 50-yard line ended in a missed field goal and a punt.

The sophomore, whose touchdown to interception ratio drops to 4-to-7, continues to struggle finding the rhythm he showed last season.

In addition to his two interceptions, Keith completed 11 passes on 26 attempts for 152 yards. He also scrambled for a touchdown to bring the Flashes within three of the RedHawks in the fourth quarter.

Although the Flashes have an experienced backup in junior quarterback Giorgio Morgan, Kent State coach Doug Martin said a change is not imminent.

“Spencer has proven that he can play,” Martin said. “In the second half particularly, he made some key passes and receivers had some great catches. We’ll evaluate (the quarterback situation) as the week goes on, but Spencer is our quarterback.”

While the passing game could not take advantage of Miami defensive lapses, Kent State’s running game excelled without senior running back Eugene Jarvis, who missed his third game in a row.

Junior running back Jacquise “Speedy” Terry matched a career high with two rushing touchdowns and carried the ball 23 times for 113 yards. On Kent State’s first offensive drive of the game, Terry broke a 39-yard run for a touchdown.

Keith added 52 yards on the ground with a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Martin said it was positive to see the running game begin to match expectations, but the team’s mistakes on both sides of the ball made the difference.

“We just didn’t play well enough in any phase really, to win the football game,” Martin said. “That’s the bottom line. We made too many mistakes offensively and blew some opportunities to score. Defensively we have to cover better in the back end than we did today.”

Kent State’s defense allowed 52 yards on the ground, and forced Miami sophomore quarterback Zac Dysert to throw the ball 46 times, but Dysert exploited the Flashes’ defense. The heralded signal caller completed 31 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown.

One RedHawks receiver eclipsed 100 yards, while another gained 90 as Kent State’s inability to prevent deep throws continued.

The Flashes were given opportunities to cause turnovers, but could not haul in Dysert’s passes. Martin said the team not taking advantage led to the loss against Miami.

“We didn’t come up with them and that’s the difference,” Martin said. “That is winning or losing. Our problems in the secondary were that we weren’t playing tight enough. You can’t just let people throw slants like that. When they are, you have to tighten up and compete.”

The loss extends Kent State’s losing streak to three games with a matchup against winless Akron Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

With the rivalry game looming and question marks surrounding the Flashes, senior safety Brian Lainhart said it’s too early to panic and cited the team’s Oct. 24 win at Ohio last season.

After Kent State defeated the Bobcats 20-11, people wrote off Ohio as a contender. Ohio did not lose another conference game on their way to playing in the Mid-American Conference Championship game.

“We just have to keep pushing forward and obviously we have to take away the mistakes,” Lainhart said. “We have a lot to play. One game doesn’t determine the season. If it did, we would just turn our equipment in now.”

Contact reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected].