Kent State tops MAC East

Deanna Stevens

Flashes get first win at BGSU in 34 years

Kent State players Brian Bell (right) and Craig Rafdal celebrate after Bell caught a touchdown pass in the second quarter of Saturday’s game. The Flashes defeated the Flacons 38-3 and will play Akron at home at 7:30 on Saturday. AMANDA SOWARDS | DAILY KE

Credit: Jason Hall

The Kent State football team’s defense had its best showing of the season in the 38-3 win over Bowling Green on Saturday.

“If you can make Bowling Green throw the ball, that’s the way to go because they are tremendous running the football,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “We knew it would be hard to slow their running attack down. Fortunately, we were able to put them in some third and longs sometimes, and that was not their game.”

The second straight road upset leaves the Flashes undefeated in the Mid-American Conference. They are currently leading the MAC East Division standings.ÿÿ

“There is satisfaction from where we’ve been to where we are, and our players deserve all the credit on that,” Martin said.

The Falcons (2-2, 1-1 MAC) consistently drove down the field on their first possession. But the Flashes defense came up with their first big stop of the game when they sacked Bowling Green quarterback Freddy Barnes for a loss of 1 yard on a fourth-and-six play. Senior strong safety Andre Kirkland and inside linebacker Stevon Moss were credited for the tackle.

From there, the Flashes wasted no time heading into the end zone.

On their first play, wide receiver Shawn Bates rushed for 79 yards on a reverse to score for the Flashes.

“I’m hoping that will be the start for Shawn Bayes to become the playmaker he’s capable of being,” Martin said.

Martin said the offense performed well, but the unit is not at the level it wants to be. Martin added the production of the Flashes’ receivers will be a key to the offensive improvement.

“However good they get is how good we can be offensively,” Martin said. “Right now, we’re not as good as we’d like to be, but we have potential there.”ÿ

The Flashes kept their momentum going in the second quarter. Senior defensive back Usama Young intercepted Barnes to give possession to the Flashes.

With the ball back, Kent State sophomore quarterback Julian Edelman hit senior tight end Brian Bell with a 5-yard touchdown pass. Edelman finished the game with 14 completions on 22 attempts and 141 total yards.

Edelman said the Flashes’ defense was a major motivator for the offensive production.

“It just makes us want to get in that end zone that much more,” he said. “(We want) to show them that they are helping us out.”ÿ

Bowling Green responded to Bell’s touchdown with a 31-yard field goal by kicker Sean Ellis to avoid the shutout.

But the Flashes would not let the Falcons go into halftime on the high note. With just more than one minute before the half, Edelman ran for a 2-yard touchdown to put the Flashes up 21-3.

In the second half, the Flashes continued to put points on the board, but Martin said they could have done more.

“We’re not hitting on all cylinders yet offensively. But I think we were close. In the second half I don’t think we played with the lead well. I wanted them to go out and keep attacking. It was like we were trying to run the clock out.”

Right out of halftime, Kirkland got one of his two interceptions to give the ball back to the Flashes.

Kicker Reid Macho connected on a 21-yard field goal to increase the lead.

Bowling Green held Kent State scoreless for the rest of the third quarter. But the fourth was another story.

Defensive back Fritz Jacques sacked Falcon quarterback Tyler Sheehan to force a fumble. Gary Ham, a senior defensive back, returned the fumble for a 36-yard touchdown.

Another Sheehan fumble, this time recovered by senior defensive lineman Austin Novak, led to the Flashes’ last possession.

The Flashes’ offense took advantage turnover. They rushed junior runningback Jon Drager every down of the 17-yard drive, which was capped off by a 4-yard run for a touchdown.

Martin said the win is important, only if the team can keep up the momentum.

“If we can continue, then this is a meaningful win,” Martin said. “It was great to put two wins back-to-back. But I told the team what we couldn’t do is beat Miami and come to Bowling Green and lay a goose egg. And they embraced that. They didn’t just keep thinking about the Miami win, they just kept thinking about Bowling Green.ÿWe got to do the same thing this week for Akron “

Contact football reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].