Despite losing 48-3 to the No. 3 team in the nation, Ohio State, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus Saturday, the Kent State football team was able to do something against the vaunted Ohio State defense that no one has done all year: Run the football.
The Buckeyes’ defense has been dominant this year, holding opponents to just 46.5 rushing yards a game and just under two yards a carry (1.7). Akron and Purdue were held to three and four yards, respectively, while Northwestern could not even gain a yard on the ground.
Kent State, on the other hand, now holds the season-high rushing mark against Ohio State at 161 yards.
“They had shut out just about everyone in the running game,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “If you want to run the ball against Ohio State, you have to be a diverse running team because they are good at making you one-dimensional.”
And diverse they were, as the Flashes employed three running backs and ran out of numerous sets to try to keep the Buckeyes off balance.
Sophomore running back Eugene Jarvis was once again the leader for the Flashes as he ran for 84 yards on just 16 carries, a 5.2 yards per carry average. True freshman Andre Flowers also saw extensive time in the backfield carrying for 40 yards on nine carries. Sophomore Christen Haywood had 30 yards on 11 carries.
Although the Flashes were shut out until the final minutes, the running game caught the attention of the Buckeyes.
“I’m disappointed that we gave up the score today, but Kent State earned it,” Ohio State junior defensive back Malcolm Jenkins said. “It’s always tough to shut out anyone, but Kent State really gave us some problems, especially on the ground.”
Jenkins and many other Buckeyes were especially impressed with Jarvis. The 5-foot-5, 170-pound sophomore carved, twisted and shook his way to 52 of his 84 yards in the first quarter before seeing limited action the rest of the game.
If Jarvis, who now has 935 yards on the season, had played the entire game he presumably would have easily surpassed the century mark.
“Obviously he’s the nation’s (second) leading rusher for a reason,” said James Laurinaitis, Ohio State junior linebacker and 2006 Bronko Nagurksi award winner. “When you take him out of the game, it’s going to make a big impact.”
“He’s a good player. He’s obviously small and shifty and hard to get a wrap on,” Laurinaitis later said.
Jarvis’ 84 yards were the second-best individual mark against the Buckeyes’ defense this season, falling behind Washington quarterback Jake Locker, who ran for 102 yards Sept. 15.
“Our rushing game has been big all year, and we were able to run so we will use this as a springboard against Bowling Green,” Jarvis said. “We are running well and can put any back on the offensive line and run well.”
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