Receivers step up in romp

Joe Harrington

Bayes, Tukes both have key touchdowns in 38-7 win over Delaware State

Sophomore wide receiver Phil Garner escapes Delaware State linebacker Josh Pope during the Flashes 38-7 victory over the Hornets Saturday at Dix Stadium. Abigail S. Fisher | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

Kent State coach Doug Martin said before Saturday’s game that Kent State football needed to respond like a champion would after a loss. Shawn Bayes must have been paying attention to his coach.

The junior wide receiver had just two catches in the 56-20 loss to Kentucky, which was an improvement from the week before.

With four catches for 100 yards Saturday, and a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Bayes helped set the tone for his team as they ran away with the game in the second half, winning 38-7 in the first game at Dix Stadium this season.

“For the first time since I’ve been here we had receivers step up and make plays,” said Martin.

Bayes caught the only touchdown of a less-than-perfect first half when he leaped into the air to catch the ball over Delaware State defensive back James Romain.

“I just got a great opportunity,” Bayes said. “Coach always tells me to use my feet to my advantage and I just got a chance to make a play by getting behind the coverage.”

Bayes may have been awarded a game ball for his performance but he wasn’t the only receiver who played well. Junior quarterback Julian Edelman was able to spread the ball to seven different receivers, the most he has all year.

“It was really satisfying because people have been waiting for us as a receiving group to make plays,” Bayes said.

Two receivers that made perhaps the play of the game were a pair of freshmen, Rashad Tukes and Alan Vanderink. After Edelman avoided three tackles, he passed the ball to a wide open Tukes who ran down the field, 56 yards — with Vanderink lead blocking — before he leaped into the end zone to make the score 21-0. As great of a play Tukes made, it was Vanderink’s blocking that lead to the score.

“That’s just the epitome of a team player,” said Edelman. “He went out there and showed that a receiver doesn’t necessarily have to catch a ball to be effective.”

The improved play lead to an impressive passing day for Edelman, who was under strict orders to stay in the pocket and avoid running the ball. Edelman threw three touchdowns en route to 267 yards in the air.

“I told Julian Edelman that if he ran the ball I was going to put a knot on his head a boy scout couldn’t untie,” said Martin.

But the Flashes weren’t flawless. Edelman was admittedly flustered in the first quarter, and it showed when he missed several open receivers in the redzone at the end of an 18-play drive.

The offense continued to battle a turnover epidemic, throwing an interception and fumbling two times. The Flashes have struggled all year with turnovers and Martin has said the turnovers on Edelman’s behalf may be more mental than anything.

Luckily for the turnover-prone offense, the defense also responded like a champion against the Hornets. Against Kentucky, the defense gave up 42 points in the second half. The entire week of practice the defense was reminded about the 22 missedtackles in that game and suffered one of the most difficult weeks of the young season.

“I’m not going to lie, it was rough,” said senior defensive lineman Colin Ferrell. “We can’t beat any team missing that many tackles.”

The defense was flirting with a shut out, which would have been its first since 1994, before giving up a rushing touchdown with just 35 seconds left in the game. The defense settled for an impressive day in the stat book, allowing just nine first downs, 117 yards rushing — on 41 carries — and no third-down conversions.

“We finished today,” said Ferrell.

As great as the defense played, the game would have been much different without the play of sophomore running back Eugene Jarvis. The 5-5 running back had over a hundred yards in the first half for the second week in a row on his way to a 136-yard day on the ground. He also surpassed his 2006 touchdown statistics when he scored twice to give him five touchdowns for the season.

“The vision that (Jarvis) ran with today was great,”said Martin. “He really is the heart of our football team, he and Julian, but particularly Eugene right now. Our kids just believe that when he has the ball in his hands something special is going to happen.”f

Contact football reporter Joe Harrington at [email protected].