Flashes’ winning is contagious

Deanna Stevens

Students cheer during Kent State’s game against Toledo on Oct. 14 at Dix Stadium. The Flashes will play Ohio University at 2 p.m. tomorrow. LESLIE CUSANO | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

While attending the Cleveland Browns game Sunday, Kent State Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy received an out-pouring of support due to the unprecedented success of his football program.

“It was a good day for Kent State,” Kennedy said.

As a result of the Flashes’ first five-game winning streak since the ’70s, Kennedy said he was surrounded by alumni who are finally proud of a team that has only had two winning seasons in the past 20 years.

“People are coming out of the woodwork (saying) ‘I went to Kent State,'” Kennedy said. “Walking around Cleveland, you see people wearing Kent State gear. Basketball has always given us a strong presence in Northeast Ohio, this is the next major step.”

In its three home games this season, the team has had more than 20,000 fans at Dix Stadium. This is the highest average attendance in the Mid-American Conference East Division.

The Flashes return home to host the Ohio Bobcats, which is the second-place team in the division, at 2 p.m. tomorrow.

With three conference opponents remaining, this game has major division championship implications. A win would put the Flashes two games over the Bobcats in the MAC standings, while a loss would tie the teams for first place.

At the weekly press conference, Ohio coach Frank Solich said the turn-around for both teams just shows how unpredictable college sports can be.

“There’s a very thin line between losing and winning in college football,” Solich said. “But I think that line is even thinner in this conference. You don’t have teams lining up against one another where there’s a distinct advantage in most cases. You’re going to have to get the game won on the field.”

Kent State coach Doug Martin echoed Solich’s thoughts and said a game of this magnitude makes it that much more exciting.

“This is what college football is all about,” Martin said. “I think it’s great for our fans to have a meaningful game played at Dix Stadium this time of year.”

Martin said the student and community support is a “great motivator” for the Flashes.

“It’s been outstanding,” Martin said. “If there is a better venue right now in the MAC, I’d like to see it. Our place has been exciting. Our student section has been unbelievable. They’re right behind us, and I’ll tell you right now, they’re out of control.”

Kennedy agreed the students have been the difference this year.

“When we have the kind of enthusiasm, and I’m talking about first-class enthusiasm of spontaneous jubilation coming out of the student section in support of our football team, it really means that this team belongs to our students,” Kennedy said.

The Flashes have not only made themselves known on campus and around Ohio, they have landed in the national spotlight.

“Kent State football is a national story,” Kennedy said. “In terms of success on the field and student support.”

The Flashes have been all over the national media lately, in The New York Times, USA Today, and ESPN.

Martin said it was nice “flying under the radar,” but the exposure has been beneficial.

Contact football reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].

Ohio at Kent State

When: 2 p.m. tomorrow

Where: Dix Stadium

Kent State’s record: 5-2, 4-0 MAC

Ohio’s record: 5-3, 3-1 MAC

Last meeting: Ohio defeated Kent State 35-32 last season in Athens.

TV/Radio: FSN Ohio, WHLO-AM 640

Web: Check out StaterOnline.com this weekend for the final score and highlights from the game.