Complete collapse

Lance Lysowski

Flashes burned in 14-point comeback by Toledo

Kent State coach Doug Martin had little to say following his team’s second-half flop against Toledo on Saturday night.

After a 233-yard performance in the first half, the Flashes’ offense moved just 42 yards in the second half and did not record a first down until the team’s last offensive drive of the game. Meanwhile, the Rockets piled on 27 unanswered points to take the game, 34-21

“They came out and played much better in the second half then we did,” Martin said, “and it was just unfortunate that we didn’t come out and compete offensively in the second half.”

A single penalty by the Flashes cost them dearly.

With just under seven minutes remaining in the third quarter and Kent State leading 21-14, the Flashes’ defense stopped Toledo on third down, which would have forced the Rockets into a punting situation.

But after the play, fifth-year senior Kirk Belgrave was flagged on a personal foul “retaliation” penalty, giving the Rockets a first down. On the next play, Toledo junior running back Adonis Thomas broke for a 22-yard touchdown run to tie the game.

“We can’t make stupid penalties like that,” senior safety Brian Lainhart said. “There are penalties where you are playing hard and that’s fine. That was just stupid.”

The loss drops Kent State to fifth in the Mid-American Conference East Division and two games behind first-place Miami. With five conference games to play, Lainhart said the Flashes are still not giving up hope.

“We just have to go out and keep working hard,” Lainhart said. “Just keep playing, keep playing, keep playing and keep fighting. We have to bounce back like we did after Miami.”

Junior running back Jacquise “Speedy” Terry ran for 98 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns in the first half but carried the ball five times in the second half for no gain.

As a whole, the offense failed to record a positive yardage play in the third quarter. Toledo stuffed runners at the line, jumped on screen passes and constantly pressured sophomore quarterback Spencer Keith.

“It’s a lot easier to stop the run when your offensive players are going the wrong way and not getting the calls,” Martin said. “And when they are clipping and putting you in third and 20. When you’re having to throw the ball when it’s third and 20, it’s not too hard to defend the pass.”

The loss is the second this season that Kent State had an opportunity to close out an opponent, but failed to compete late in the game. In the third quarter this season, the Flashes have been outscored 41-13 by their opponents.

After the game, when Martin and his players were asked who is at fault, both gave differing answers.

Senior linebacker Cobrani Mixon said the criticism of Martin and his staff is unfounded.

“They can’t blame him for the stuff we did in the second half,” Mixon said. “We came with a game plan and executed in the first half. We come out flat in the second half. That’s not coaching. That’s the players.”

Martin said the players can take the blame, but he knows the reality of the situation.

“The bottom line is that coaches are the only ones who are responsible,” Martin said. “That’s the way that will be. Players can say that all they want. That’s the way it is and coaches know that so we have to do a better job and find a way to help these guys play better.”

Contact Lance Lysowski at [email protected].

Check out sports editor Josh Johnston’s blog about the Kent State-Toledo game. Shooting the J: Finger pointing after a loss