Flashes choke in homecoming game

Nick Walton

Fourth-quarter letdown upsets homecoming

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choke (‘chok)

1. to become choked in breathing

2. Flashes lose composure and fail to perform effectively in a critical situation

The Kent State football team was 77 seconds away from starting Mid-American Conference play 2-0 for the first time in three seasons. Tyler Sheehan made sure that didn’t happen.

The Bowling Green senior quarterback led a 74-yard drive in the game’s final minute to complete a 12-point comeback in the fourth quarter to beat Kent State 36-35 on Homecoming Saturday.

“Bowling Green battled hard, we battled hard,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “It was a very well fought game, and both sides were very deserving to win.”

Bowling Green completed its comeback when Sheehan scored on a 9-yard touchdown run with five seconds left in the game. Sheehan completed 44-of-63 passes for 505 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.

Game Notes

Scoring . in a Flash

Terry’s 12-yard touchdown run in the third quarter after Pleasant’s interception marked the fifth time this season Kent State had a one-play scoring drive.

Put away the flags

A week after being penalized a season-high 11 times, the Flashes were flagged a season-low three times for penalties.

On the road again

Next week’s game against Eastern Michigan starts a stretch where four of the Flashes’ final six games are on the road. Kent State is 0-2 on the road this season.

The Flashes’ defense was also unable to stop Sheehan’s favorite target, senior wide receiver Freddie Barnes, who accounted for 306 all-purpose yards, including 278 receiving yards on 22 receptions and three touchdowns.

Barnes set Bowling Green single game records in receptions and receiving yards, while Sheehan broke school single-game records in completions, attempts and passing yards.

“Defensively we just gave up too much,” Martin said. “Our coverage is just not tight enough is the main thing. Our guys, they’re just playing with too much cushion and we got to get up and play a little more aggressive.”

Barnes’ most significant play, however, came on the recovery of a muffed punt return to set up the Falcons’ final drive.

Bowling Green held the ball for more than 35 minutes in the game and converted 8-of-19 third downs, making it difficult for Kent State’s defensive to get off the field.

“We were scratching and clawing to get off the field,” sophomore corner back Josh Pleasant said. “Bowling Green called some good plays. We may have made a few mistakes here and there, but that’s going to happen.”

Prior to Bowling Green’s final drive, the Flashes had an opportunity to put the game away, but freshman quarterback Spencer Keith threw two incomplete passes, forcing Kent State to punt.

“Really, I just rushed them and made bad passes,” Keith said. “I’m just going to forget it and move on to next week.”

Keith completed 10-of-20 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown, but his only completion in the fourth quarter was a 58-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Kendrick Pressley. The Flashes finished that drive with a 3-yard rushing touchdown from sophomore running back Jacquise “Speedy” Terry to take a 12-point lead with 12:08 left in the game.

Terry rushed for 81 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries and Kent State rushed for a total of 202 yards on 31 carries. Terry compared Saturday’s loss to last season’s loss against Akron.

“It’s not like we’re going out there and not trying to make plays,” Terry said. “It seems like we call the plays and we try to run it – it’s just not going our way sometimes.”

The Flashes took an early lead on the first play of the game with an 86-yard reverse for a touchdown by sophomore wide receiver Sam Kirkland.

Kent State added to its lead when senior defensive end Kevin Hogan blocked Bowling Green freshman kicker Jerry Phillips’ 33-yard field goal attempt. Junior linebacker Will Johnson recovered the ball and tossed it to junior defensive lineman Quinton Rainey who returned it 82 yards for a touchdown.

With the rest of conference play ahead of them, Martin said the team has to get over this loss.

“We can’t let this game defeat us next week,” Martin said. “Probably whoever wins the (MAC) East or (MAC) West is not going to do it undefeated, so we’re not anywhere worse off than anybody else right now. We still control our own destiny if we win games.”

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected]