Akron upsets Kent State to keep the Wagon Wheel

DKS Editors

The Akron Zips celebrate a victory over the Golden Flashes 28-20 Saturday night. Rachel Kilroy | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

AKRON – The Kent State football team’s Mid-American Conference Title hopes took a shot tonight as the Flashes fell 28-20 to rival Akron at InfoCision Stadium.

The Flashes (5-5, 4-2 MAC) lost to Akron for the third consecutive year in the rivals’ first meeting at Akron’s new stadium.

“I thought it was a really well played game on both sides,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “I thought the difference in the game was up front. Really Akron won the game in the trenches on both sides.”

Kent State was hurt by the loss of sophomore running back Jacquise “Speedy” Terry, who left the game in the second quarter after receiving a helmet-to-knee hit in the first quarter. Terry rushed seven times for 18 yards before leaving the game.

The Flashes ran for just 38 yards in the game.

Kent State moved the ball effectively in its first possession of the game, driving 60 yards to set up freshman kicker Freddy Cortez’s 37-yard field goal. Benefiting from good field position after a short kickoff and a kick catch interference foul against the Flashes, Akron responded with a touchdown drive to take the lead, 7-3.

The Zips extended their lead at the beginning of the second quarter with a 59-yard catch and run to the end zone by junior wide receiver Jeremy LaFrance. LaFrance burned Kent State for 126 yards on eight catches and two touchdowns in the game.

Ten unanswered points by Kent State brought the game to within a point before halftime. With the ball inside Akron’s 10-yard line, Kent State settled for a short field goal after five goal-line stands by the Zips.

Akron found the end zone twice in the second half to distance themselves from the Flashes. Kent State had no answer to Akron’s running game in the second half, as the Zips carried 26 times for 116 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown run in wildcat formation by senior wide receiver Andre Jones.

A strip, fumble recovery and 69-yard return would have kept Kent State within a score of Akron in the third quarter, but referees ruled Akron senior wide receiver Jeremy Bruce down after reviewing the play. The Zips turned the ball over on downs, but Kent State went three-and-out on the ensuing drive.

Freshman quarterback Spencer Keith ran the offense down the field on a 9-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to bring the score to 28-20 with 5:36 left. The Zips downed a punt on Kent State’s 1-yard line with 2:29 left in the game at the end of their next possession.

Kent State managed to drive half of the field before a string of dropped passes and an interception at midfield ended its comeback bid.

Keith finished completing 30-of-59 for 377 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Keith’s favorite target, freshman wide receiver Tyshon Goode pulled in eight passes for 132 yards.

After holding its last three opponents to fewer than 300 yards of offense, Kent State’s defense allowed Akron to gain 429 yards (168 rushing, 261 passing).

The Flashes have a bye next weekend and will return to action Nov. 21 against Temple in Philadelphia.

“This taste will be fresh in our mouth against Temple,” junior safety Brian Lainhart said. “It’s not good to have a sour taste in your mouth, but we’re going to learn from it we’re going to come back and be a better against Temple.”

Battle for the wagon wheel: Kent State vs. Akron