Texas misstep

Nick Walton

Failed red zone trips send Kent State to a 31-15 loss against Baylor in Waco

Despite gaining more total yards, making multiple trips to the red zone and controlling the ball for the second half, the Kent State football team’s first trip to Texas ended with a loss.

Three turnovers, a season-high 11 penalties and missed opportunities stopped the Flashes as they lost to Baylor 31-15 on Saturday in Waco, Texas. Kent State was unable to capitalize on three trips to the red zone in the second half, ending any chance of a comeback.

“I was real pleased the way our guys competed,” Kent State Coach Doug Martin said. “If we don’t get some penalties and a couple of blocked kicks, we’re in that game. We moved the ball well.”

The Flashes took a 7-0 lead on the opening drive of the first quarter when junior wide receiver Leneric Muldrow completed a 35-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jameson Konz on a trick play. Baylor responded with 21 unanswered points to take a 21-7 lead into halftime.

Trailing 28-7 in the third quarter, sophomore running back Jacquise “Speedy” Terry’s 61-yard rushing touchdown cut the deficit to 28-13.

“They scored, and we knew we had to come out and answer,” Terry said. “Coach (Martin) just called a great play, I saw a seam, and I took it.”

Terry led Kent State in rushing with 109 yards on 12 carries as the Flashes rushed for a total of 165 yards on 25 carries.

After being unable to capitalize on opportunities inside Baylor’s 20-yard line, Kent State’s last points of the game came on a safety when senior defensive lineman Aaron Hull tackled Baylor sophomore running back Terrance Ganaway in the end zone.

The Flashes’ defense held Baylor to 144 yards and 10 points in the second half.


Broken streak

Despite leading the team with 14 tackles, Lainhart’s streak of games with an interception ended at four games.

Still undefeated.sort of

Even with Saturday’s loss, Kent State is tied for second place in the MAC Eastern Division. Bowling Green, the Flashes’ opponent next week, is 0-1 against the MAC and is currently on a four-game losing streak.

“The main thing was we improved our tackling,” junior safety Brian Lainhart said. “Baylor’s so athletic. If you miss a tackle, they can take it for 60 (yards). The thing we did in the second half, we really settled down and just tackled.”

Sophomore quarterback Giorgio Morgan started the game and passed 3-for-6 for 18 yards and an interception before freshman quarterback Spencer Keith replaced him in the second quarter. Keith took all of the snaps in the second half and finished 21-for-39 for 206 yards and an interception.

A week after being named Mid-American Conference Eastern Division Special Teams player of the week, freshman kicker Freddy Cortez had two field goal attempts and one extra point attempt blocked.

Despite gaining a total of 168 yards on seven kickoff returns, Kent State only had 26 punt return yards on two attempts.

“We’ve been great on special teams up until today,” Martin said. “We had a hard time matching up front with their big guys. They had a big size advantage on us, and they just pushed us on the field goal deal a couple of times and just rolled us out of there – we got a great kicker. We just didn’t give him a chance.”

In his first career start, Baylor freshman quarterback Nick Florence completed 20-of-27 passes for 216 yards and also rushed for two touchdowns. Florence was starting in place of sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin and senior Blake Syzmanski, both were dealing with injuries.

“Obviously we hadn’t seen (Florence) play before, so we didn’t know what we were getting,” Martin said. “He’s really mobile, he can run.”

Florence rushed 11 times for 60 yards and two touchdowns. On the day, Baylor’s rushing attack accounted for 158 yards on 45 carries and all four of the Bears’ touchdowns.

Martin said the team now has to focus on the rest of conference play. The Flashes will host Bowling Green on Saturday.

“When we go into conference (play), everything is a one-game MAC Championship,” Martin said. “So what we got in Bowling Green is a one-game MAC championship, and that’s what we’re focused on.”

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected]