Beaten by the Buckeyes

Joe Harrington

Nationally-ranked Ohio State too much for outmatched Golden Flashes squad

Ohio State tight end Jake Ballard catches a pass during Saturday’s game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. ABIGAIL S. FISHER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Dan Kloock

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One of Kent State’s goals this season is to avoid losing back-to-back games, but after losing to Miami, 20-13 last week, then losing 48-3 Saturday at Ohio Stadium to the No. 3 team in the country, Ohio State – now ranked No.1 — that goal wasn’t achieved this week.

The Buckeyes dominated in all areas of the game, scoring touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams.

The Ohio State defense showed the impressive statistics weren’t a lie, as they allowed just 223 yards of offense and sacked junior quarterback Julian Edelman five times during the game.

The Flashes were averaging 420 yards a game, including 230 yards rushing. The running game played well against the Buckeyes: The Flashes had more rushing yards against them than any other team this season, but the offense only had 62 yards of passing, compared to Ohio State’s 263 yards. Kent State quarterbacks combined to go 6-15 passing, with Edelman going 4-10 for 49 yards.

“They are big, they are fast and they really strong,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “This is one of the bast defenses I have ever seen.”

The Flashes didn’t help themselves, committing the same mistakes they have all season – fumbles and interceptions. Edelman threw his ninth pick of the season that was returned 70 yards for a touchdown by defensive back Donald Washington. Eugene Jarvis lost a fumble the very next drive. The Flashes have committed 19 turnovers this season. The Buckeyes turned both mistakes into touchdowns, making the half-time score 35-0.

“We made mistakes we could not make if we wanted to be in this football game,” Martin said.

He followed through on his strategy to play as many players as possible. The Flashes played three different quarterbacks, four different running backs and the only offensive lineman who played almost every snap of the game was junior center Josh Perry.

The only problem was Ohio State played most of its roster as well. The Buckeyes completed passes to 10 different receivers and used seven different running backs.

The Flashes held Ohio State to 138 yards rushing. They lead the Mid-American Conference in rush defense and have now out-rushed every team they have played this year.

“They are the No. 3 team in the nation, but we matched up well on the physical aspect,” senior defensive lineman Colin Ferrell said. “Like coach said, we made mistakes we can’t make playing against a No. 3 team.”

The Buckeyes played well on special teams, with sophomore Brian Hartline returning a punt 90 yards for a touchdown — an Ohio State record — and kicker Ryan Pretorius connected on 49- and 39-yard field goals in the second half.

The kicking game for Ohio State produced three touchbacks and a 26.7 net-punt average, which made it even more difficult for the Flashes to score. Kent State made only one trip to the redzone, compared to the Buckeyes’ five, which all resulted in scores.

However, Kent State didn’t score until 2:36 left in the game. Sophomore kicker Nate Reed made a 34-yard field goal in front of booing Ohio State fans who wanted to see a shutout.

Reed is now 11-13 on the year and has made his last eight attempts, including extra points. Martin said the kicker has really improved after struggling in 2006 and has been one of the hardest workers on the team.

Saturday’s game was the last non-conference game of the season for the Flashes, who will try to regroup after two close conference losses to Miami and Akron.

“Our season starts today,” Martin said.

With five Mid-American Conference games remaining, the Flashes will concentrate on winning the East Division title, something that became even more difficult when the Flashes lost to division-leading Miami. The RedHawks are the only team in the East Division with a winning record at 4-3 and defeated Kent State’s next opponent, Bowling Green, 47-14 over the weekend.

Notebook:

-Off and running

Sophomore Christen Haywood made his debut in the backfield against Ohio State. Haywood, a Columbus native, made the most of his first career carries, running 11 times for 30 yards. Sophomore quarterback Jon Brown, who red-shirted in 2006, returned to the field for the first time since 2005. Brown was red-shirted after being placed behind Michael Machen and Julian Edelman on the depth chart. He played in seven games in 2005, including one start.

-Still out

Shawn Bayes missed the second straight week with a shoulder injury. The junior wide receiver is one of the leading receivers for the Flashes with 12 catches for 187 yards. He could return this week for the Bowling Green game and will try to bring more stability to an erratic passing game.

-Disappearing act

A week after having seven catches against Miami, sophomore Derek McBryde was shut down against the Buckeyes. McBryde did have 104 kickoff return yards but failed to catch any passes.

-Get out Sloopy

Kent State is now 0-2 against Ohio State and are 0-9 against the Big Ten Conference. The Flashes may have to wait till next year for their first win against a ranked opponent, as none of the remaining teams on the schedule are in any of the top 25 polls. Kent State is 0-20 against ranked teams and Ohio State was the highest ranked team they have ever played.

-Off on the wrong foot

Saturday’s game was the first time Kent State failed to score first in a game this season. It was also the first time the Flashes didn’t enter halftime either tied or with the lead.

-Punting day

Jake Kilroy had a career-high seven punts with a 32.9 average against the Buckeyes, but his performance was overshadowed by Hartline’s big return.

-Struggling teams?

The Flashes face just one more team that currently has a winning record, Central Michigan, on Oct. 27.

Contact football reporter Joe Harrington at [email protected]