Kent State’s offense falters in finale

Lance Lysowski

Flashes finish season with 9-6 loss at home

Junior linebacker Cobrani Mixon hugs senior quarterback Anthony Magazu after the last game of the season against Buffalo. The Flashes lost 9-6. RACHEL KILROY | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Despite playing well defensively, a last-second field goal sunk the Kent State football team’s bowl eligibility hopes, as the Flashes dropped their season finale against Buffalo 9-6.

“Our players battled hard and right now we’re just not healthy enough offensively to produce points, but our defense played really hard,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “It’s just unfortunate. We did about as good as you can do with the cards we’ve been dealt.”

The Flashes (5-7, 4-4 Mid-American Conference) held the Bulls to nine points in five trips to the red zone, but Buffalo junior kicker A.J. Principe’s 22-yard field made the difference.

Buffalo junior running back Brandon Thermilus led the way for the Bulls on the final drive. After a personal foul penalty against Kent State gave Buffalo favorable field position, the power runner broke free of a Kent State defender for 15 yards, which set up the game winner with five seconds to play. Thermilus finished with 29 carries for 142 yards.

Junior linebacker Cobrani Mixon said playing against a power running back like Thermilus puts pressure on the defense’s front seven to wrap up the first chance they get.

“You can’t let him get started and get to your (defensive backs) so you just have to take him down when you can,” Mixon said. “You just have to punish him and punish him until he breaks down.”

Senior quarterback Anthony Magazu started under center after the season-ending injury suffered by freshman Spencer Keith last weekend against Temple. The fifth-year senior struggled to lead the Flashes’ offense, completing 5-of-14 passes for 31 yards.

Although Magazu failed to drive the team down the field, Martin said the senior played well by not turning the ball over, and anytime a team plays three quarterbacks in a season it is difficult to be successful.

“For the time we had Spencer up and running, we were as good of an offensive football team as there was in this conference,” Martin said. “It makes everything so disjointed when you lose that quarterback. When we have that guy, it’s amazing what we can do out there.”

After being shut out in the first half and held to 68 yards, Kent State’s offense found life in the third quarter in the form of freshman running back Dri Archer. The freshman rushed for 45 yards on the first four plays of the drive that tied the game 3-3 on freshman kicker Freddy Cortez’s 39-yard field goal.

Archer finished the game rushing 10 times for 94 yards and added a 77-yard kick-off return that set up Cortez’s second field goal of the game.

Archer said he was determined to get the offense in position to score, but gave Buffalo credit for stopping him short of six points.

“I just tried to make something happen and put our offense in good field position,” Archer said. “I cut left and cut across the field. I was just trying to get what I could, but it was (a) good pursuit by Buffalo.”

The Flashes were held without a touchdown for the first time since the 2008 season opener.

Finishing at 5-7, Kent State turned in its third-straight losing season, and seventh of the last eight years, but the five wins show improvement over the last three seasons. The Flashes finished 3-9 in 2007 and 4-8 last year.

By losing its final three games, Kent State failed to make good on Martin’s bowl prediction earlier this season. However, Martin said the future is still bright.

“I’m really proud of where the program has come,” Martin said. “It’s getting over the hump now and that’s the hardest part. We have Dri, Spencer Keith and Tyshon Goode returning on offense. There’s a lot to be excited about.”

Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected]