Flashes unable to pull out OT win

Joe Harrington

Kent State played decently. The defense allowed fewer than 50 yards rushing, sophomore running back Eugene Jarvis broke another school record and the Golden Flashes lost another close game.

That is not the season in one sentence — although it could be — it is what happened Saturday. The Kent State defense allowed 49 rushing yards, and Jarvis rushed for his Kent State record ninth 100 yard game of the season, but the Flashes lost in overtime 30-23 at Dix Stadium.

Sophomore quarterback Anthony Magazu threw for 184 yards and two touchdown passes in his first career start. Magazu, who replaced sophomore Jon Brown, was effective enough for the offense to establish a running game.

In other words, he was able to let Jarvis do what he has done all season: run through, around and by the opposing defense.

Jarvis set the school’s single season rushing record Nov. 10 against Northern Illinois and ran for 183 yards on Saturday.

Last week against Temple, Jarvis had a season-low 13 carries for 57 yards as a result of a struggling pass offense.

The Pittsburgh native ran a career-high 34 times against Buffalo. He is now sixth on the all-time Kent State rushing list with 2,467 yards and finishes the season with 1,669 yards.

“That’s a big accomplishment, but to tell you the truth, I’d trade all of that to be playing in the MAC Championship next week,” Jarvis said. “That’s just how I feel because we had a lot of expectations coming in and we didn’t fulfill them.”

The defense, which was lead by seniors such as Fritz Jacques and Colin Ferrell, ended the season the way it started, stopping the run and forcing the offense to pass. Buffalo threw 44 times for 334 yards behind Buffalo junior quarterback Drew Willy threw for 334 yards.

Ferrell had four-and-a-half tackles for a loss, a career-high for a senior who has been a fixture on the Flashes defense for the past five seasons. Ferrell passed former Kent State linebacker and current Pittsburgh Steeler James Harrison for fourth all-time in tackles for a loss.

“When I look back on my career, it’ll be something to feel good about, but it’s not something you shoot for,” Ferrell said. “It’s kind of bittersweet because we didn’t get the victory.”

The Golden Flashes came into the season as a possible Mid-American Conference contender, but ended the season disappointed and hurt.

After beating Iowa State in Ames, the first game of the season, the expectations for this team were arguably as high as any in school history.

But then injuries turned the season around the next game. Sophomore quarterback Julian Edelman tore his PCL against Kentucky, but continued to play until breaking his arm nearly two months later against Bowling Green. Senior defensive back Jack Williams, freshman safety Brian Lainhart, junior linebacker Stevon Moss and junior wide receiver Shawn Bayes all missed games due to injuries.

The injuries to quarterback Giorgio Morgan, a torn ACL, and Magazu, who sprained his ankle on Oct. 13, forced Coach Doug Martin to start four different quarterbacks this season. But injuries were just part of the problem.

The Flashes struggled with turnovers and penalties for most of the season. The Flashes may have returned 18 starters from their 6-6 2006 team, but the majority of the starting players were underclassmen. With all the problems, effort was not one of them, Martin said.

“That’s what’s really encouraging me; we have never had an effort problem here,” Martin said. “We’ve had some execution problems, we’ve had the turnover bug that we went through for a while, and then we kind of got over that. We’ve had the injury things we’ve dealt with. But the effort has not been a problem. They don’t quit.”

The Buffalo game proved Martin right. After having a potential game-winning kick blocked, the Flashes came out in overtime still fighting. Buffalo drove the ball to the two-yard line, where the Flashes kept the Bulls out of the end zone four times before Buffalo freshman running back Brandon Thermilus finally scored. The goal-line stand would have been the fourth of the game for the Flashes.

On the next possession, with the Flashes needing a score to keep the season going, Magazu had Jarvis open down the sideline. Before Magazu even had a chance to see Jarvis, he was blindsided by Buffalo senior Larry Hutchinson. Senior tight end Tom Sitko had gone in motion to make the coverage shift to the left. As soon as Hutchinson saw Sitko move, he knew to blitz.

“I think we all just realized this season wasn’t what we thought it was going to be,” Sitko said. “We could have rolled over today and just given up, but I’m proud of these guys.”


-Kicking the season

Sophomore Nate Reed tied Paul Marchese’s school record of 18 field goals in a season. Marchese accomplished the feat in 1977. Despite the record, Reed missed an extra point in the first quarter and had a field goal blocked with just 1:34 left in the game.

-Linebacker return

Junior linebacker Derek Burrell finished the season with four straight games with 10 or more tackles. Burrell had a career-high 16 tackles Saturday and finished with a team-high 110 tackles.

Burrell will lead a linebacking corps that returns every player next season, including juniors Stevon Moss, Cedrick Maxwell, Jameson Konz. Sophomore Kevin Hogan, who had five sacks this season, also returns.

-Quarterback battle?

Junior Julian Edelman is expected to be healthy by training camp, along with freshman Giorgio Morgan. Both suffered season-ending injuries and both are recovering from knee injuries. Sophomore Anthony Magazu also will be entered in the depth chart mix. Martin said he believes he’ll have three quarterbacks that can win in the MAC.


Sophomore punter Jake Kilroy struggled this season and coach Martin promptly said in his weekly press conference last week that the team will be recruiting a punter for next season.


Kent State is now 8-8 all-time against Buffalo. The Bulls have won the last three meetings. The game may be the last time the Flashes see Buffalo coach Turner Gill, as he is being mentioned as a candidate for the Nebraska head coaching job.

Contact football reporter Joe Harrington at [email protected].