Flashes football get ‘character check’ win

Nick Walton

KSU defense holds Eagles to two field goals

A week after losing a fourth quarter lead, the Kent State football team made sure Eastern Michigan wouldn’t make a second-half comeback.

The Flashes (3-4, 2-1 Mid-American Conference) moved the ball effectively and held Eastern Michigan (0-6, 0-3 MAC) to two field goals in a 28-6 win Saturday. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Kent State.

“This was a character check for our football team coming off of a really tough loss last week,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “Our deal was to be emotionally ready to play, and I think our team did that from the opening kickoff ’til the end of the game.”

Kent State’s first scoring drive of the game came after freshman safety Leon Green recovered a fumble by Eastern Michigan senior defensive back Johnny Sears on the game’s opening kickoff.

The Flashes capitalized on the fumble when freshman quarterback Spencer Keith completed a 1-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Jonathan Simpson.

“You couldn’t have asked for a better setup than that, and our offense did a nice job of capitalizing on that,” Martin said. “(The fast start) probably was the key to the game.”

Keith completed 10-of-24 passes for 164 yards, two touchdowns and a rushing touchdown.

Game notes

Scoring at will:

Keith’s 48-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Tyshon Goode in the second quarter was Kent State’s sixth one-play scoring drive of the season. Keith’s touchdown on the opening drive also marked the third straight game the Flashes had a touchdown on their opening drive.

No touchdowns allowed:

Eastern Michigan’s six points was the fewest Kent State has allowed to a MAC team since 2006.

Moving forward:

At 2-1 in the conference for the third time this decade, the Flashes continue their conference road trip Saturday at Ohio. The Bobcats (5-2, 3-0 conference defeated Miami 28-7 on Saturday.

Keith threw two interceptions in the second quarter but led Kent State on two scoring drives in the second half.

Junior wide receiver Leneric Muldrow completed his second touchdown pass of the season on a trick play to sophomore wide receiver Kendrick Pressley in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach for Eastern Michigan.

“I love it when on Sunday, coach comes in and lets me know ‘Hey, we got a trick play for you,'” Muldrow said. “I’m just waiting for the opportunity, and when he gives it to me, I just got to make a play.”

Sophomore running back Jacquise “Speedy” Terry led the team in rushing with 79 yards on 18 carries as the Flashes rushed for a total of 152 yards.

After giving up a total of 922 offensive yards the last two weeks, Kent State’s defense held Eastern Michigan to 258 yards and two field goals. The Flashes stopped the Eagles on fourth-and-goal in the second quarter when junior defensive lineman Quinton Rainey tackled Eastern Michigan senior running back Terrence Blevins at the 2-yard line.

“I just kept telling my (defensive line) they can’t block you” junior linebacker Cobrani Mixon said. “(Rainey) came off the ball and made a great tackle in the backfield. That was all our (defensive line) right there – they just didn’t want to be blocked.”

Mixon had 11 tackles, and junior linebacker Dorian Wood recorded a career-high 13 tackles. The Flashes defense forced two turnovers, a fumble recovery and an interception by junior safety Dan Hartman in the second quarter.

With balance on both sides of the ball, Martin said the team is going to be tough to beat for the remainder of conference play.

“I don’t know that we’re great on either side of the ball, but we’re pretty dadgum good because we play off of each other,” Martin said. “I don’t know that I’ve been around a team that has come together like this one. These guys got a chance, and I don’t know what holds down the road, but somebody’s going to have to be pretty good to beat us because to beat us you got to beat us all.”

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected]