Another rally falls short

Kali Price

Flashes pull within seven but give up 16 fourth-quarter points in 44-14 rout by Western Michigan

Western Michigan linebacker Paul Tithof (51) breaks up a play intended for Kent State running back Jerry Flowers. Kent State lost, 44-14, to host Western Michigan in a Mid-American Conference matchup in Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Mich. on Saturday.

Credit: Steve Schirra

Instead of scaring off the Western Michigan Broncos and its five-game losing streak, the Kent State football team dropped its sixth straight game and still has yet to gain a win in the Mid-American Conference.

The 44-14 loss to the Broncos (5-3, 3-2 MAC) knocked the Flashes’ record back to 1-7 overall and 0-5 in the MAC.

The Flashes’ biggest problem was yet again their defense.

The Broncos pulled ahead on their second drive and continued to score until 5:45 was left on the game clock.

Five minutes into the game, senior running back Trovon Riley scored his first of two touchdowns, bringing the Broncos up 7-0.

Then, after five unsuccessful rushing attempts by freshman running back Jerry Flowers, the Flashes gave the ball back to the Broncos, whose drive ended with Riley’s 31-yard touchdown run.

Riley had 91 of Western’s 158 rushing yards.

The Broncos were able to gain better field position because of senior tight end Tony Scheffler.

“If we don’t have him at the beginning of the game, it changes things,” Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit said. “He’s a big threat. Sometimes he loses focus, but we count on him to make the big play for us.”

Scheffler was able to dismantle the Flashes’ defense and pick up 131 receiving yards and one touchdown, which came with 7:35 left in the second quarter and put the Broncos up 21-0.

“(It is) very tough to shut down a tight end like that,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said. “His size and speed make him a mismatch for our safeties and linebackers. Our only hope was to jam him at the line, which we only did in the second half.”

The Flashes stepped up their defensive game in the second half and were able to get within a touchdown of the Broncos.

“I was proud of our (defense) in the second half,” Martin said, “but we aren’t good enough on offense to come back from a deficit like that.”

Najah Pruden scored the first touchdown for the Flashes five minutes into the second half on a 20-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Michael Machen.

The Flashes’ second touchdown was two minutes later when freshman wide receiver Shawn Lewis caught a 31-yard pass from senior halfback Derrick Bush. The score cut the lead to 21-14.

The touchdown throw was Bush’s second of the season and his third career touchdown pass. Bush also is 5-for-6 and has thrown for 129 yards in his career.

After the defense held the Broncos to a three and out, the Flashes had a chance to tie the game at 21. But Machen fumbled when he was sacked by Ameer Ismail, and Paul Tithof picked up the loose ball and rumbled 44 yards to the end zone.

After a safety made it 30-14, Machen was hit as he was throwing, and Zach Davidson intercepted the pass and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown.

The Flashes were able to hold the Broncos to one touchdown in the third quarter, but gave up 16 points in the fourth.

While Machen posted his second 300-yard throwing game of his career with 336 yards on 25-of-45 passing, he was picked off twice and sacked four times.

The Flashes were only able to net one rushing yard. While they gained 61 rushing yards, the Flashes lost 60 yards on sacks.

Cubit credited his zone blitz defense and his team’s defensive flexibility as the way the Broncos were able to stop the Flashes.

“We’re going to give up yards, and I don’t care,” Cubit said. “We can give up yards between the 20s as long as they don’t score.”

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