Flashes defeat defending MAC champs

Deanna Stevens

Edelman passes for 305 yards in KSU’s victory

Junior running back Tony Howard scores a touchdown from the 1-yard line in the third quarter to make the score 29-7. Howard also rushed for a 5-yard touchdown in the second quarter. STEVEN MANTILLA | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

In its 37-15 win over Akron on Saturday, the Kent State football team sent the reigning Mid-American Conference champs home without three things: a right to brag, a wagon wheel, and a conference win.

The Flashes, however, kept the No.1 spot in the MAC standings as their winning streak reached three games.

Kent State coach Doug Martin said he was confident coming into the game because of how the team practiced last week.

“Our practices were electric,” Martin said. “We were sharp, we were fast. Kids were interested. It was a great week of preparation.”

Kent State put up a season-high 461 yards on offense to earn its first win at Dix Stadium since the second week of last season.

Martin said the win at home is important for the program as a whole.

“I’m really proud of this football team,” Martin said. “They’ve come a ways. A long, long way. We’ve still got a ways to go. But we’ve gotten better every week, and I think that’s the key.”

Although it was a big day for the Kent State offense, it was the defense that put the first points on the board.

After a successful no-huddle drive, the Flashes blew a snap on the 1-yard line to give the Zips possession.

Kent State’s defense took advantage of the field position three plays later when defensive lineman Daniel Muir sacked Akron quarterback Luke Getsy in the end zone for a safety.

Akron coach J.D. Brookhart said the no-huddle offense shook the defense early. Yet, the Zips’ defense responded to the Flashes’ next drive by blocking Reid Macko’s 22-yard field goal attempt.

Akron finished its next series with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Getsy to freshman wide receiver David Harvey.

The Kent State offense began to take shape with an answer of its own. On the next drive, quarterback Julian Edelman had a 4-yard touchdown run.

Edelman ended the game with 69 yards rushing on 24 carries. In passing he had a career-high 305 yards with 17 completions on 21 attempts and one touchdown.

Brookhart said Edelman’s game was too much for the Zips to handle.

“The Edelman kid hurt us.” Brookhart said. “He did some good things. We had (receivers) covered, and he ran. We blitzed him, and he made throws. I thought he was a real difference-maker.”

The Flashes’ defense continued to interrupt the Zips’ offense in the first half.

Akron, in Kent State territory, tried to build some momentum on a fourth and 4-yard play, but senior defensive back Usama Young broke up Getsy’s pass to junior wide receiver Jabari Arthur to give the Flashes possession.

With the ball back, the Flashes scored on a 5-yard run by sophomore running back Tony Howard. Howard finished the game with 62 yards on 25 carries.

The Flashes offense continued to operate with just more than two minutes before halftime. Edelman found senior tight end Brian Bell in the end zone with a 15-yard pass, giving Kent State a 23-7 lead at halftime.

The change in half did not change Kent State’s efficiency on offense or defense.

Kent State’s defense held Akron to just 73 yards rushing. Sophomore running back Dennis Kennedy rushed for 91 yards, but a Getsy was pushed back for negative 18 yards in sacks.

Brookhart said the Flashes defense put Akron’s offense in several uncomfortable situations.

“We were in a lot of third-and-longs,” Brookhart said. “When your at third-and-10, those are hard to convert.

“They have a good front four. Danny Muir is a real special kid. They got some guys that can put pressure on you with four and they mix that up with a good blitz package.”

Akron’s first series of the second half ended in a Getsy sack by junior defensive lineman Colin Ferrell to force a fumble. Muir recovered the ball for the Flashes.

Once again, the Kent State offense took advantage of the turnover, when Howard ran 1 yard for his second touchdown of the day with more than 13 minutes left in the third quarter.

Akron came back with a score of its own.

Getsy hit Arthur with a 36-yard touchdown pass, bringing the score to 30-15 after a two-point conversion.

The senior quarterback finished the game with 261 yards passing on 38 attempts and 19 completions.

Kent State came back with its final score to halt the Akron momentum.

Edelman threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Najah Pruden, who led the Flashes in receiving with 156 yards on four catches.

Martin said the the Flashes’ winning streak is something new for the team.

“The thing about us is everything is a first time experience,” Martin said. “This is the first time they’ve been 3-0 in the MAC. And how are you going to handle that? How are you going to handle playing Temple this week? All those things are new to this program, and it’s a continuing education.”

After beating Miami, Bowling Green and now Akron, Kent State has beaten last year’s top three teams in the MAC East division.

“They’ve certainly got their confidence going, and they are playing well,” Brookhart said. “They’ve beaten the three teams that shared the league last year. They’re certainly in the driver’s seat.”

Contact football reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].