What happened?

Deanna Stevens

Second straight loss leaves Flashes at No. 2 in MAC East

Buffalo seems to have the Kent State football team’s number.

In the 41-14 upset, Kent State gave Buffalo (2-7, 1-5 Mid-American Conference) its first conference win for the second straight season. The Flashes (5-4, 4-2 MAC) have lost back-to-back games for the second time this season because of a self-destructive second half.

“Right now I haven’t gotten them to the point where they can stop a losing streak (from happening),” Kent State coach Doug Martin said in the Akron Beacon Journal. “It’s one of the last big hurdles to get over when you’re building a football program. It’s a character issue – and it starts with me. I’m the head coach.”

The loss, along with Ohio’s win over Eastern Michigan, drops Kent State to the No. 2 spot in the MAC East Division standings. In order to have a chance at a conference championship and a bowl bid, the Flashes will have to win both of their remaining MAC games, while the Bobcats must lose both of theirs.

Turnovers, which have been an issue for Kent State all season, were insurmountable for the Flashes in the second half against Buffalo. The Flashes not only gave the ball away, but gave the Bulls good field position.

Kent State had two fumbles and two interceptions in the second half. The Bulls then converted on all four opportunities and created a few chances themselves to score 38 unanswered points.

According to Buffalo’s athletic department’s Web site, Buffalo coach Turner Gill said he confronted his team at halftime.

“At halftime we challenged both our offensive and defensive lines, and I told them that they were the keys to us being successful in the second half,” Gill said.

Buffalo’s defensive line had six sacks on the Kent State quarterbacks, four of which came in the second half.

The Bulls reacted to their coach’s challenge by scoring on a 6-yard touchdown run by freshman quarterback James Starks in their first possession of the second half.

On the following possession, sophomore running back Tony Howard fumbled on the Flashes’ 21-yard line. From there, Buffalo senior quarterback Tony Paoli covered the distance in one play with a touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Terrance Breaux to gain the lead.

Paoli finished with 14 completions on 20 attempts and 193 yards. Another fumble, this time by Marcus Hill, gave the Bulls possession inside the Flashes’ 35-yard line.

From there the Bulls needed four plays, but eventually landed in the end zone after a 19-yard run by Starks. He led all rushers with 162 yards on 24 carries and three touchdowns.

Down 27-14 in the fourth quarter, interceptions hindered the Flashes’ comeback attempts.

Sophomore quarterback Julian Edelman threw two interceptions to defensive back Mike Newton on back-to-back possessions to begin the quarter.

The Flashes’ defense held after the first interception, but Starks ran 16 yards for his final touchdown after the second pick.

While the Bulls’ offense erupted in the second half, the Flashes’ offense showed signs of life in the second quarter.

A mix of the passing game and the running game helped keep the Buffalo defense guessing. Edelman took advantage of the confusion and scored both touchdowns for the Flashes.

The first was a 4-yard touchdown early in the second quarterback.

After an interception by junior defensive back Jack Williams, the Flashes offense took the field again to drive 88 yards on 9 plays capped by a 6-yard touchdown run by Edelman.

The quarterback led the team in passing with 16 completions on 29 attempts and 190 yards. He also ran 16 times for 50 yards. Redshirt freshman Eugene Jarvis led the Flashes in rushing with 64 on 12 carries.

Next week the team travels to Blacksburg, Va. to take on non-conference opponent Virginia Tech.

Ohio plays at home against Akron. The Bobcats must lose to give the Flashes a chance for the MAC East Championship.

Contact football reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].