Flashes return to field after Akron loss, bye

Nick Walton

Football tries to move back into division race with game vs. Temple

Coming off a bye week, the Kent State football team faces a daunting task against Mid-American Conference East Division leader Temple.

The Flashes (5-5, 4-2 MAC) travel to face an undefeated conference opponent for the second time this season, looking to keep their division championship hopes alive.

“We got a lot to play for this week, and we got a really great challenge coming up with Temple,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “Like when we played Ohio, it’s really the same type of game, same type of team that we’re getting ready to play. (It is a) great opportunity for our players and we’re looking forward to it.”

Kent State last played Nov. 7, losing to rival Akron 28-20. Junior defensive back Dan Hartman said the team didn’t dwell on the loss during the bye week.

“The bye week gave us a chance to work on some things that we needed to work on offensively and defensively,” Hartman said. “(The Akron game) was going to leave a sour taste in your mouth for awhile, but you just got to get over it.”

After allowing 168 rushing yards to Akron, the Flashes will face the second-best rushing offense in the conference, led by the Owls’ freshman running back Bernard Pierce. Pierce leads the conference in rushing with 1,308 yards and 15 touchdowns.

“He’s got great vision, and he really is great in the hole side to side,” Martin said. “He does a nice job of moving laterally to get free, and he’s really strong. They’re playing really well up front too. They’re really big up front, so they pose a lot of problems in the running game.”

On offense, the Flashes hope to have leading rusher, sophomore running back Jacquise “Speedy” Terry, back after he suffered a strained MCL against Akron. Martin said Terry practiced Sunday night and feels he has a good chance of playing Saturday.

If Terry comes back, he’ll have to deal with Temple’s defense, which is the top-ranked rushing defense in the MAC. The Owls’ defense has also recorded the second-most sacks in the conference.

“We got to do a really good job of spreading them out and making sure that we put our guys in the best possible call we can put them in,” Martin said. “We don’t have to run the ball for 200 yards, but when we call a running play we got to gain something positive – we can’t be in third and (long) all day.”

Martin said the last two games of the season will determine if the season is a success.

“We control whether we want to be a winning football team or it’s going to be a losing football team,” he said. “I’m still trying to get them to just focus on one game and that’s the Temple game, but if we could get these next two, there haven’t been too many seven-win seasons around here in a long time.”

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected].