A miserable day

Deanna Stevens

Flashes lose first MAC game of the season

Kent State coach Doug Martin walks the sidelines in the rain and wind during Saturday’s football game against Ohio. The Flashes lost to the Bobcats 17-7, breaking their five-game winning streak, undefeated conference record and solitary lead of the MAC Ea

Credit: Jason Hall

In its match-up against Ohio, the Kent State football team was looking for a win to lock up the No.1 spot in the Mid-American Conference, coach Doug Martin said.

But, after losing 17-7 against the Bobcats Saturday, the Flashes’ future is just as unpredictable as the weather they played in.

“I’ve been to three county fairs and a goat roping, and I thought I seen it all until today,” Martin joked. “Here was hail, sleet, lightning, snow, rain. It had everything a meteorologist could love. But, again, both teams played in it. (Ohio) just handled it better than we did.”

The win leaves Ohio with the tiebreaker if both teams win the rest of their conference games.

Martin added that the Flashes are still in a good position in the standings.

“We’re still right in the thick of things,” Martin said. “Ohio still has to win out. Can they do that? I don’t know, but we’re still right there with them. They have one loss, we have one loss.”

With a combination of lightning which delayed the game for 40 minutes, thunder, rain, sleet, hail, snow and winds up to 33 miles per hour, both teams’ offenses were dependent on field position and running the ball.

Ohio came into the game with the No.1 punt returner in the nation, freshman Chris Garrett. Yet, the Bobcats did not have to use him much because the Flashes’ punter, freshman Jake Kilroy, only averaged 3 yards per punt in the first half.

“Our punter has been great all year,” Martin said. “He had a bad day today.”

Martin added the first kick, which actually lost a yard, was a result of the wind, and Kilroy trying to direct the punt away from Garrett.

That kick set up the Bobcats at the 17-yard line, where senior Voncarie Owens ran for the first touchdown.

Martin said even with the loss he was happy with the Flashes’ effort; they just were not able to convert.

“I thought our kids fought hard,” Martin said. “They played hard, we just made too many mistakes. And as bad as things went in the kicking game, we had a chance to make some plays that we just didn’t make.”

Kent State went 1-3 in red-zone conversions. The only touchdown came off an 8-yard pass to Tom Sitko from sophomore quarterback Julian Edelman late in the second quarter to cut the Bobcats lead to 14-7. Sitko’s catch is his first career touchdown reception for Kent State.

Edelman threw seven completions on 20 attempts for 79 yards. He led all rushers with 121 yards on 23 carries.

Ohio defensive lineman Jameson Hartke said Edelman’s tackle-breaking ability lost him some key stats.

“I should have had a career day today,” Hartke said. “I’ve got to give him all the credit in the world. He is a slippery guy, he is strong, he’s got strong legs.”

Along with converting, Martin said the Flashes needed to score first in order to put themselves in a better position against the Bobcats.

“If we could have gotten off to a fast start, and would have been playing with a lead, that would have been huge because Ohio, offensively, is not adept to come from behind,” Martin said.

The Bobcats gave themselves even more of a cushion after another botched punt attempt early in the second quarter that put them at the 17-yard line. This time it took three plays to get into the end zone, but running back Kalvin McRae rushed three yards for the score.

Senior defensive lineman Daniel Muir said the weather impacted the defensive side as well, but that was no excuse for the Flashes not to be more dominant.

“It’s tough, but that is no excuse,” Muir said. “They still shouldn’t have scored points on us. That is the mentality we’ve had every single game. “

Martin said now the Flashes have to do something that will help them progress into a good program instead of just a good team: rebound against Buffalo.

“The history around here is when you get one loss, two and three follow,” Martin said. “And we’ve got to stamp that out of the mentality here.”

Contact football reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].