Mother Nature sides against the Flashes

Sean Ammerman

You know a football game is strange when its biggest topic of discussion is the punting or the weather.

Kent State used no less than three punters – Nate Reed, Jake Kilroy and Julian Edelman – in its 17-7 loss to Ohio Saturday.

Kilroy, the starting punter, averaged 3 yards on his two punts in the first half. Edelman’s attempt at a quick kick, which he has used quite well several times this season, was blocked. Reed, who has had trouble as the Flashes’ starting kicker, found more success replacing Kilroy.

Punting, an often overlooked aspect of the game, proved to be the deciding factor this week. The Bobcats took advantage of the Flashes’ mishaps, scoring two touchdowns that resulted from botched punt attempts.

Kilroy’s first punt managed the incredible feat of going negative 1 yard. The ball left his foot, went straight up into the air, and came straight back down. The wind was strong enough to render the punt worthless. In a decade of watching football, I have never seen this happen before.

Ohio then had the ball on Kent State’s 17-yard line and scored the next play on a Voncarie Owens run.

In the beginning of the second quarter, Kilroy fumbled a snap for a punt into the end zone, bringing upon another bizarre play. He tried to fall on the ball to sacrifice the safety, but it continued to elude his hands. Kent State’s Gary Ham was able to scoop up the ball and stay on his feet long enough to run 17 yards. He was one block away from breaking free and returning the ball all the way.

Instead, Ohio got the ball back on downs and scored three plays later to get an early 14-0 lead.

It was the Flashes’ ugliest game of the season, affected in no small part by the ridiculous Northeast Ohio weather.

Throughout the day, the teams played in sleet, hail, lightning and snow. There were even a few brief moments when the sun came out.

Kent State coach Doug Martin admitted Kilroy did not have a good game, but said he has played fantastic up until Saturday.

Both teams had to play in same weather, but it seemed to hurt the Flashes more.

“I have never seen anything like it in my life,” Edelman said bluntly after the game.

The California native said he is used to playing where it is “sunny all the time.”

The game was reduced to running, as the weather made it next to impossible for any quarterback to throw.

Despite Edelman gaining 121 yards on the ground, the Bobcats looked prepared for the Flashes game plan.

Kent State was too baffled by Mother Nature to get back on track.

The loss ended Kent State’s winning streak and its sole possession of first place in the Mid-American Conference East Division.

As Ohio owns the tiebreaker, it now controls its own destiny in advancing to the MAC Championship Game.

But with both teams facing three more conference opponents, there is a lot of football to be played, and a lot of chances for the Flashes to regain first place.

Contact assistant sports editor Sean Ammerman at [email protected].