The agony of defeat

Kali Price

Flashes lose to Ohio in a heartbreaker

Sophomore quarterback Michael Machen walks away on crutches from a knee injury during the Ohio University-Kent game Saturday. Kent lost 35-32.

Credit: Jason Hall

Football and frustration were synonymous for Kent State on Saturday.

In Ohio’s Mid-American Conference opener, the Flashes (1-3, 0-2 MAC) found it hard to pull ahead against the Bobcats (2-2, 1-0 MAC), and fell 35-32.

Kent State’s only lead was at the end of the first quarter when senior punter Josh Brazen’s punt resulted in a safety.

After the 2-0 lead ended in the first drive of the second quarter, the Flashes didn’t come close to the Bobcats until a late rally in the fourth quarter.

From the first drive, the game looked ominous for the Flashes.

Sophomore quarterback Michael Machen and the Flashes’ offensive problems began with an intercepted pass by Ohio senior Dion Byrum on the Flashes’ first drive.

It all went downhill from there.

Machen threw interceptions in four of the Flashes’ seven drives in the first half.

Machen’s game ended in the fourth quarter on the Flashes’ second drive of the quarter. His first pass of the drive resulted in a game-ending knee injury and his fifth intercepted pass of the game.

At this time, the seriousness of Machen’s injury is unknown.

“Obviously, the injury will set him back,” Kent State coach Doug Martin said, “but I have a lot of confidence in (freshman quarterback) Jon Brown. That’s why we recruited Jon. He played good offense in high school and he did a great job in there today.”

Brown came into the game after the Bobcats’ next drive and ended up throwing for 34 yards and completed eight passes, before another pick by Byrum halted the drive. Brown finished 15-of-19 for 106 yards and a touchdown.

The six total interceptions for Ohio tied the school record for number of interceptions in one game. The last time Ohio had six interceptions was 1982.

The Flashes had two interceptions of their own and gained 105 yards off of the turnovers. At the end of the second quarter senior linebacker Jon Sessler intercepted Ohio junior quarterback Austen Everson’s pass and returned it for 73 yards to score the first touchdown of the game for the Flashes.

But by halftime, Ohio’s 260 total yards was its most in one game for the season and the Bobcats led 21-9.

“The game came down to turnovers and their ability to run the ball on us,” Martin said. “We did some really good things on offense. We’re just still too young offensively to be where we want to be. There’s no way to speed that up. It’s just going to take time to mature. We just couldn’t rise up to the challenges that OU gave to us today. They played a great game.”

As Martin said, the Flashes did good things on offense.

Freshman running back Jerry Flowers picked up his first career touchdown in the third quarter with a 10-yard run.

Unfortunately, the energy was quickly shot down when Machen’s passing attempt at a two-point conversion was intercepted.

But junior wide receiver Najah Pruden brought the game to 35-25 on the Flashes’ first drive of the fourth quarter.

Machen completed a 60-yard pass to Pruden for the touchdown.

“I wasn’t feeling any desperation,” Pruden said. “I sprung open, I broke a tackle, and took down the sideline. My team needed me the most right there, so I had to come up with a big play.”

Pruden had a career high 200 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the game. The second came on an 8-yard pass from Brown with 1:32 remaining in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to 35-32.

Yet, the onside kick attempt was unsuccessful and the Flashes fell to 0-2 in the conference for the fifth time in the last six years.

The Flashes, again, struggled to produce a running game, garnering 89 total yards on the ground. The Flashes have yet to crack 100 rushing yards in a game this season.

Not only could the Flashes not produce a running game, but they were unable to stop the Bobcats’ rushing attack.

Ohio running backs Voncarie Owens and Kalvin McRae combined for 339 yards. Owens finished with 139 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown, while McRae had 200 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns.

The efforts of the Bobcats marked the first time Ohio rushed for more than 300 yards in a game since 2002.

“I thought there was a combination of reasons we were able to run the ball well,” said Ohio coach Frank Solich. “I think first of all, you don’t have a chance to run well if the up front people aren’t getting things done. I thought they had a good day as far as blocking. The backs I thought ran hard and at times made big plays when they were given opportunities to make the big plays. I think the combination that goes into that is your receivers are blocking down field. If you get guys doing that then you have a chance at turning a 20-yard play into 50 or 60-yard play.”

Despite another tough loss, the Flashes have yet to lose hope.

“Our heads are not down, we’re still up,” Pruden said. “We still have seven games left in the season and we’re trying to end this (part of the) season with 7-0 right now.”

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