Gallick: You have to win that game

Tom Gallick

It was a rivalry game.

It was the first Wagon Wheel game at the new InfoCision Stadium.

Jaquise “Speedy” Terry went out early, leaving the running game stagnant and ruining any offensive balance.

Freshman quarterback Spencer Keith was due for a misstep after three impressive wins.

Any game against a conference opponent is a losable game.

Those excuses all came to mind after Akron closed out Kent State Saturday for a 28-20 victory. But after watching the Flashes collapse, one thought trumped all of those passable excuses.

You have to win that game.

Akron owned a 1-7 record going into the game and had not beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision team in more than a year. The Zips were regulars in’s Bottom 10, a ranking of the worst football teams in the nation. Their only win on the season came against the Morgan State Bears, a team that, quite frankly, no one has ever heard of.

You have to win that game.

The Flashes enter the game with three hard-fought conference wins and a chance to seriously contend for the MAC title for the first time since 2006 and win it for the first time since 1972. Coach Doug Martin guaranteed a bowl game, Keith came out of nowhere to be a respectable rookie quarterback, and the defense has been oppressive after a slow start.

You have to win that game.

In a season already filled with emotional moments, the Flashes had no reason not to be up for that game. Kent State was primed to take back the Wagon Wheel after losing two straight to the Zips, including a double-overtime heartbreaker last year at Dix Stadium. The Flashes had injured running back Eugene Jarvis on the sidelines watching possibly his last Wagon Wheel game as a collegiate athlete and his teammates fired up to win it for him. They had learned a valuable lesson from a crushing loss to Bowling Green in which the Falcons scored two touchdowns in the last five minutes.

The Flashes had been through the wringer emotionally and seemed tougher because of it. Yet an Akron team with nothing to play for except respect might have torpedoed the Flashes chances at an ultimately successful season.

You have to win that game.

But the Flashes didn’t.

So they damn well better win the next two unless they want this season to end like every other season most fans can remember.

Contact sports team leader Tom Gallick at [email protected]