Conference losing streak on the line for football team

Thomas Gallick

Flashes host last MAC team they defeated

The Kent State football team has not won a Mid-American Conference game in over a year – since Sept. 29, 2007 at Ohio, to be exact.

The good (good being a relative term) news: The Flashes (1-5, 0-2 MAC) will take on Ohio University at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow at Dix Stadium for a chance to repeat their only conference win from last season.

“I didn’t even know it’s been that long (since a MAC win),” senior linebacker Derek Burrell said. “That’s a bad statistic to have. We’ve got to go out this week and turn that around. We let one get away last week, so we’ve got to right the ship this week.”

Burrell was referring to the Flashes’ 30-27 double-overtime loss to Akron at Dix Stadium last week. He said the team was almost in a state of shock after failing to tie the game with a field goal in the second overtime.

“It had to sink in a little bit,” Burrell said. “Once we got into the locker room, I think it really hit everybody (with) how silent it was. It wasn’t a good place to be.”

The Flashes will look to regroup this week with a win over the Bobcats, the last MAC and Football Bowl Subdivision opponent the Flashes defeated. Last season, Kent State went into Athens and came out with a 33-25 win, in large part because of junior running back Eugene Jarvis’ 230 yards rushing.

Jarvis, who has not played since Sept. 13 against Delaware State, is questionable for tomorrow’s game.

Despite the loss of Jarvis, the NCAA’s leading returning rusher, the Flashes have managed to stay dominant on the ground. Kent State leads all MAC teams with an average of 216 rushing yards per game, 20 more yards than second-place Ball State.

Senior quarterback Julian Edelman, sophomore running back Andre Flowers and freshman running back Jacquise “Speedy” Terry have helped pick up the slack in Jarvis’ absence.

“(Eugene’s) a great back and you can’t replace him . but I’ve felt like me and Jacquise have done a good job as far as coming in and filling a big loss,” Flowers said.

Flowers, Terry and Edelman will have their hands full when trying to run against the Bobcats, who allow an average of 113 rushing yards per game.

Edelman said the team can’t focus on the loss to Akron or its eight-game MAC losing streak if it wants a win over Ohio.

“We’re not even thinking about (the losing streak),” Edelman said.

“We’re worried about getting a win right now. This next game we’ve just got to go out there and play four solid quarters of football.”

Kent State coach Doug Martin said the Flashes will need to come out with more emotion than the 1-5 Bobcats if they expect to win.

“We’ve got two teams that are in the exact same position coming in here this Saturday – we’re both 1-5 and 0-2 in the conference,” Martin said. “One team will play with unbelievable passion and intensity, and the other team won’t. The team that does will win.”

Martin said the MAC East is still wide open and the Flashes are in no way out of the race for the conference championship.

“Our players have got to understand that everybody in the MAC East has a loss right now,” Martin said. “If our players want to go like they did in 2006, and go on a winning streak, they can get right back in this thing.”

Edelman said the team can talk all it wants about playing well in losses, but it needs to put some games in the win column before the public will take notice.

“I can’t even argue with (people who are pessimistic about the program),” Edelman said. “You’ve just got to take it. We’re not doing anything to prevent them from saying it. We’ve got to take it until we do something about it.”

Contact sports reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected]..