Flashes overpowered in every quarter during season opener against Washington

Jacob Hansen, Sports Reporter

Collin Schlee’s first-ever collegiate start did not go as planned.

But even though the redshirt junior quarterback was behind the ball, his head coach took the blame.

“You can’t come out after all that time we’ve had to prepare and on the very first play of the game throw an interception,” Sean Lewis said. “That is 100 percent on me. That is not on anyone else.”

On the first play of the game, Schlee threw his first of two interceptions of the night.

Washington would capitalize off the turnover with a 28-yard touchdown rush on fourth and one with 12:50 left on the clock. The Huskies led Kent by at least seven points the entire battle.

In Seattle, Kent State finished the game, which ended around 2 a.m. EST, with a loss in the first-ever matchup of the Flashes and Huskies’ programs. Washington won 45-20.

UW would continue its momentum after its first TD, this time in the passing game with a 32-yard touchdown pass to go up 14-0. Five minutes were left in the first.

The Flashes responded immediately off a big kick return. Then on the very next play, Schlee threw his first touchdown of the year, a 47-yard pass to redshirt sophomore Devontez Walker.

Schlee totaled 178 passing yards on the night, throwing one touchdown.

“He did a great job throughout everything,” Lewis said. “Staying calm, leading, I really thought he did a nice job being able to change his arm angles, throw from different platforms, and when he was under some duress, it didn’t bother him.”

UW’s new quarterback Michael Penix Jr., under the tutelage of first year-head coach Kalen DeBoer, threw for 345 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Halfway through the second, Kent State trailed 28-10. Sophomore Andrew Glass, who holds the record for second-most field goals made in program history, kicked it in with 4:48 until the half.

The Flashes took the field goal after a touchdown pass was called back due to an offensive pass interference penalty called on redshirt junior Dante Cephas. By then, the Huskies had scored two more TDs.

KSU struggled with penalties, committing seven which accounted for 70 yards.

Kent State got a turnover immediately after the field goal and settled for another. Now, the Flashes trailed 28-13.

Schlee finished the half six-for-13 with 124 yards passing on one touchdown and one interception. He rushed five times for 19 yards.

Cephas led the receiving corps with three receptions for 66 yards. Kent State’s run game was shut down in the first half, having only 44 rushing yards.

On the other side of the ball, Penix Jr. and Washington were on fire by the half, passing for 230 yards on 19 completions of 28 attempts and two touchdowns. Senior running back Wayne Taulapapa had 55 rushing yards and a touchdown.

The Huskies scored on all five offensive possessions.

The Flashes couldn’t get much pressure on Penix Jr., who had lots of time to throw.

“We weren’t able to apply a ton of pressure and move him off his spot,” Lewis said, “so he was able to play pitch and catch, and those are things will work on.”

With 9:06 on the clock in the third, Washington’s offense didn’t stop and drove right down the field for yet another touchdown. This was the fifth-different UW player to score, bringing the score to 38-13.

Kent State, attempting to strike back, turned the ball over on an interception in the red zone. It was all but over for the Flashes after that play.

KSU and UW managed one touchdown a piece in the fourth to solidify the final score: 45-20.

Washington held a Kent State team that averaged 248.6 rushing yards a game last season to 147 rushing yards in the matchup.

Penix Jr. put up a performance that caused nightmares for the KSU defense.

“We knew he has seen a lot of ball, a lot of pictures and is obviously very comfortable in this system,” Lewis said. “They were able to create some matchups and create some space and play catch early in the game.”

Lewis said a bright spot in this game for his team was Cephas’ performance. He finished with six receptions for 105 yards on the night.

“It is a testament to his hard work as a player,” Lewis said. “We know, regardless of the setting, there’s the big-time players that we have and some of our best guys are going to perform.”

Kent State’s string of tough, non-conference games continues as the team travels to No. 9 Oklahoma Saturday.

Jacob Hansen is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].