Keith and Flashes look to rebound from tough loss

Lance Lysowski

Following Kent State’s loss at Miami on Saturday, the team took less than 24 hours to get back to work.

Sunday, Kent State coach Doug Martin and sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith watched game film for hours. The two observed the quarterback’s performance, watching Keith’s two throws of over 20 yards on the team’s final drive and the interception that sealed the victory for the RedHawks.

While the drive ended in a second-down interception, Keith drove the offense 49 yards on nine plays, putting the Flashes in a position to make a comeback.

Keith threw two interceptions during the loss. The last was critical in the sense that Kent State had a timeout and more than a minute left on the clock. The sophomore said the learning process has begun, and he feels that he is ready to forget about his past mistakes.

“You just have to move on and learn from the things you haven’t done well the last four games,” Keith said. “I have definitely learned from them and know what mistakes I’ve made and how to fix them. My confidence, I’m going to get that back up, and a win would definitely help that for the team.”

In the first three quarters of play, the sophomore threw for just 57 yards on six completions. After the RedHawks scored 14 points in just over a minute of play, Keith’s game woke up in the beginning of the fourth quarter. The signal caller threw for 95 yards on five completions with Kent State trailing.

Keith capped off a 60-yard drive when he scampered for a 9-yard touchdown run with 10:25 left, cutting Miami’s lead to three points.

Although the Flashes’ final drive ended with a critical mistake by the team’s young quarterback, Martin said the fact that Keith made several critical throws in the fourth quarter says a lot about his ability to lead Kent State.

“That could have been a huge win for us, not necessarily winning the game, but how we would have won it,” Martin said. “How many times have we lost games like that here? For him to put us in that position, he showed a lot of poise and a lot of composure. At the end when it mattered, he made some throws that were key.”

“I’d go to war with that guy anywhere, anytime. Obviously he’s got to play better and I’ve got to coach him better.”

Kent State’s defense is also looking to rebound from the Mid-American Conference opening loss. Although the team’s run defense continued to be stout, allowing 52 rushing yards, Miami sophomore quarterback Zac Dysert threw for 294 yards and a touchdown.

Senior defensive lineman Monte Simmons’ return this Saturday against Akron will boost a pass rush that missed the All-MAC performer’s ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks.

Simmons missed the past three games with a broken ankle he suffered against Murray State. The senior recorded five tackles, two sacks and a quarterback hurry in the team’s 41-10 season-opening victory against the Racers.

Senior safety Brian Lainhart said Simmons, who lines up on Lainhart’s side of the field, has “been working his tail off.”

“He told me last week that his X-rays came back and he’s fully healed. I’m excited because he plays on my side, in the box, and that helps me out that much more,” Lainhart said. “I’m excited he’s back. The defense is excited about the passion and the leadership he brings is huge.”

Kent State will look to record its first conference victory of the season and break a three-game losing streak when it hosts rival Akron on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. for homecoming.

Contact Lance Lysowski at [email protected].