Video: Turnovers haunt Flashes

Jonas Fortune

Kent State fumbles twice in redzone

Kentucky senior quarterback Andre Woodson is tackled by a group of Kent State defenders. Laura Torchia | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Watch video of the Kent State vs. Kentucky game.

With Kentucky’s high-powered offense and porous defense, Kent State football coach Doug Martin knew he would be in for a shootout in order for his team to be victorious Saturday night. He also knew turnovers had no place in the game plan.

“I told our offense to win this thing we have to put 30 points on the board to win the game,” Martin said. “Our turnovers are a problem right now. We have seven turnovers in two games. That’s just too many. We have to respect the ball better than that.”

The Flashes turned the ball over four times in Saturday’s 56-20 loss to Kentucky at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky.

Two fumbles inside the redzone and a crucial interception inside the 10 — all in the first half of a then 14-7 game.

“We shot ourselves in the foot with the three (first half) turnovers,” junior quarterback Julian Edelman said. “When you go against a team that’s high caliber, like they are, you have to play mistake free.”

And mistake-free football seems to be one of the biggest problems hindering Kent State early in the season. The four turnovers Saturday now give the Flashes (1-1) a total of seven in just two games with five of those coming inside the redzone.

Despite the turnovers in key situations, the Flashes are playing football at a high level so far this season. By holding a high-octane SEC offense like Kentucky’s to just 96 yards in the first half – the game was tied at 14 at halftime; Kent State showed, for the second week in a row, it has the ability to compete with nearly any team in college football this season.

And the main reason for the Flashes’ competitiveness is their running game. Behind Edelman and sophomore running back Eugene Jarvis, Kent State carved up the Wildcat defense to the tune of 215 rushing yards in the first half.

Edelman rushed for 105 of his 135 yards in the first half, and Jarvis recorded 127 yards and a touchdown — he finished with 134 yards and two touchdowns — as the Wildcat defense had no answer for the Kent State ground game in the first half.

Playing from behind, the Flashes were forced into passing situations most of the second half, but the team finished with 324 rushing yards for the game, the first time it has rushed for over 300 yards since 2004.

“We’re really confident we can run the ball against anybody, especially with Julian back there,” Martin said. “They were playing a lot of man coverage in the first half, and when you do that nobody has the quarterback and he was just running them out of the Stadium.”

Edelman mastered turning something into nothing with his legs. With nearly every broken play, he would find a seam, slither through a few tackles and find some yardage. The junior quarterback often seemed poised and most comfortable with a shattered play.

In a third quarter play that perhaps epitomizes what Edelman brings to the team, he was hit by Kentucky defensive end Dominic Lewis in the backfield and fumbled. As the ball scooted away, Edelman calmly ran over picked up the loose football and spotted Jarvis downfield for a 37-yard completion, setting up the Flashes’ third and final touchdown, a 22-yard pass to Jarvis. The score made the game 35-20 and kept Kent State within striking distance, until the Wildcat offense began hitting on all cylinders.

Through two games the Flashes have run for 526 yards and passed for just 290 yards, perhaps being a little one-dimensional.

“We’ve got a good running game,” Martin said. “But what people are going to do to us is stack the line of scrimmage and make us throw the football until we can prove we can beat people throwing the football and we’re making progress. Julian I think is going to be really good.”

With the home opener next week against Delaware State, the Flashes will be looking for that balance and a bit of redemption for Saturday’s loss that appears more lopsided than it actually was.

“We’ve got to bounce back. We’re all hungry. Championship teams never lose two in a row,” Jarvis said. “We actually can’t wait to get back on the field to prove we’re a good football team and this game right here is behind us. We’re moving on, got our first home game and I’m pretty sure our fans back home are ready to go.”

Contact sports editor Jonas Fortune at [email protected].