Team looks to stop losing ways

ali Price

Junior wide receiver Najah Pruden is swarmed by Navy defenders during last Saturday’s 34-31 loss. The Flashes (1-5, 0-3 Mid-American Conference) are looking to stop their losing ways tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Dix Stadium.

Credit: Jason Hall

Not only does Kent State football return home tomorrow, the Flashes will return to Mid-American Conference play as well.

After last Saturday’s close loss to Navy, the Flashes (1-5, 0-3 MAC) are looking to break their four-game losing streak when they face Northern Illinois (3-3, 2-1 MAC) at 1 p.m.

“It will be another physical team that we are going to play,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “Even though their top two runners are banged up a bit, they are still going to try and run the ball.”

The Huskies are coming off of a 24-8 win over Eastern Michigan.

Leading the Huskies’ offense are top rushers Garrett Wolfe and A.J. Harris.

“They are putting up some pretty impressive numbers on offense,” Martin said. ” I think that is a direct result of them having a great offensive line, probably one of the biggest that we will go up against. When you add really good running backs like Wolfe, who might be the best runner in the conference, and a big, strong back like Harris with that great offensive line, you can put up some pretty good numbers and score a lot of points.”

But Wolfe and Harris may not pose much of a threat to the Flashes because both were injured in Saturday’s game and their status is unknown.

Martin said in a Monday press conference that he is happy with the way the team has progressed since the season opener at Michigan State.

“I think that we may have grown up a little bit as a football program Saturday,” Martin said. “Even though we didn’t win the football game I felt like it was one of the few times since I’ve been here that we looked like a college football team out there. We were ready to play from the beginning. Our kids played with a lot of class and a lot of composure in some difficult situations and fought to the end against a really good football team and put themselves in an opportunity to win it.”

The Flashes’ offense has seen much improvement in past weeks, especially on Saturday.

Leading the Kent State offense at Navy were sophomore quarterback Michael Machen, who had his fourth career 200-yard passing yard game, and junior wide receiver Najah Pruden, who had his third career 100-yard receiving game.

“I think (Machen) did a lot of growing up on the field on Saturday,” Martin said. “He’s getting more comfortable in the offense. I thought he displayed a great deal of patience at times. He checked us into the right plays and went deep into his reads on several occasions.”

Martin said that he was especially pleased with the way that Machen and Pruden have been playing together.

“I think his decision making is improving,” Martin said. “He’s getting comfortable with his receivers – he and Najah Pruden are really clicking out there – and he made a big play with his legs with that big scramble.”

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