Flashes continue looking for success despite losses

Kali Price

The one thing that Kent State coach Doug Martin continues to say is Kent State football still has “the potential to have a good football team.”

The only people that probably still believe him are the team, the Athletic Department and I.

I might be too much of an optimist compared to the rest of Kent State.

But the talent is there. The potential is there. The heart is there.

But where are the wins?

The Flashes haven’t been able to pull through and produce any more than one win this season.

After the team was out of contention for the Mid-American Conference title last season, the Flashes started to pull through and ended the season with a four-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 185-64 – one of those opponents being Saturday’s adversary Eastern Michigan.

With the No. 1 overall defense in the MAC, the No. 1 rush defense in the conference, and the No. 17 ranked defense in the NCAA last season, the Flashes had a lot of expectations to live up to.

In the summer, I wrote a column about the pressure and the expectations the Flashes had hanging over their heads coming into this season. Everyone expected the Flashes to continue to have the best defense and to continue the winning streak.

Obviously, the winning streak was over in the Sept. 3 loss to Michigan State, but the expectations are still there and are probably even bigger now.

But the Flashes have been unable to live up to their own – and everyone else’s – high expectations.

It must be hard to be sophomore quarterback Michael Machen and be expected to be a heaven-sent replacement for the Flashes after the departure of former quarterback Josh Cribbs.

It has to be hard to be senior linebacker Justin Parrish and be expected to be one of the best linebackers in school history and in the MAC and to help lead the defense to another high ranking spot in the NCAA.

And it really must be hard to know that most of Kent State doesn’t think the team can win a single game.

But the Flashes are always so close to winning. If a few less mistakes are made, their record would be 4-1, not 1-4.

In the past two games, there have been plenty of bright spots and glimmers of hope where the Flashes could have come back to win.

At Ohio, the Flashes started to come back in the fourth quarter when freshman quarterback Jon Brown came in the game for Machen. Brown completed 79 percent of passes for 106 yards and one touchdown. It all ended for the Flashes with a failed onside kick attempt.

At the end of the third quarter and all of the fourth quarter, the Flashes were able to stop Eastern Michigan from scoring another touchdown in the Eagles’ first drive of the half and began to come back from being behind 21-0.

Only allowing the Eagles to score two field goals for the remainder of the third quarter, the Flashes came back to end the game 27-20.

The most frustrating parts of the game were the missed chances at the end of the fourth quarter.

Even though the Eastern Michigan scoring drives ended in the last minute of the third quarter, the Eagles’ defense is what stopped the Flashes from having a come-from-behind win.

The failed onside kick and Brown’s intercepted pass were heartbreaking.

But the game is over now and the only things left to do are to pick up the momentum and to try to win the last six games of the season.

Maybe then the Flashes will live up to the expectations.

Maybe then more people will start to believe that the Flashes can win.

But even if that doesn’t happen, the Flashes will keep on working hard and keep on believing that they can win.

And even though the wins or the fans may not be there, Martin will be there through it all.

“I told them that they were my football team,” Martin said. “I believe in them and I’ve coached them. Everybody can show up for a game or nobody could show up, but I’m going to believe in them to the end, that’s where we are. And we’ll go back to work (Sunday).”

Contact assistant sports editor and football reporter Kali Price at [email protected].