Reaction to MACtion: Football’s hot start fades quickly at Glass Bowl Stadium

Jacob Hansen, Reporter

In just three minutes and 35 seconds of possession time, Kent State’s football team was leading Toledo 21-0.

But from 12:34 seconds left of the second quarter and on, the Rockets outscored KSU 45-3.

“Not the results we were looking for,” coach Sean Lewis said. “Really proud of the way we started, obviously we need to finish a heck of a lot better. Toledo made more plays than we did, and their staff did a great job of putting their kids in a position to be successful.”

The Flashes lost 52-31 Saturday — this is their fifth loss on the road and second-consecutive loss. The team has not won a road game this year.

Kent State is now 2-5 on the season and is tied for fourth in Mid-American Conference East at 1-2.

“We have to step up to the challenge and embrace that,” Lewis said, “not just today, but every single day of the week so that we can go create our opportunities each and every single day.”

Kent State opened the battle with a six-play, 53-yard drive for a touchdown – a 46-yard kick return from Toledo put the Flashes in a good position to start the game.

The drive was 1:51 and ended with a three-yard touchdown run by junior running back Marquez Cooper.

The Flashes next scored on back-to-back drives after forcing a three-and-out.

The team’s second-scoring play lasted 1:39 and ended after a 12-yard touchdown run by redshirt junior quarterback Collin Schlee, who scored on a read option. This put Kent State up 14-0.

On Toledo’s very next possession, KSU came up with a turnover after redshirt senior Montre Miller forced a fumble and recovered it. On the first play of the next drive, Cooper scored his second touchdown on a 19-yard run.

“The kids did a great job of executing the plays that were called,” Lewis said. “They had great focus and great intensity early on and executed the plan. That is something we were a little off with last week, and we were on this week.”

The Rockets responded, opening up the next drive with a 48-yard kick return. Sophomore quarterback Dequan Finn got Toledo on the board with a 27-yard touchdown run. His team now trailed 21-7.

“They did a good job of controlling our front,” Lewis said. “They did a good job of getting big bodies into the boundary, like on the one where he broke for the long 27-yard gain for his touchdown rushing. They did a good job of capturing our game. And every time the game gets captured like that, it is going to leave a running lane.”

On the first play of the second quarter, Schlee scored his second touchdown of the game on a 10-yard run. This put Kent State up 28-7.

Then, the Rockets took off.

Toledo answered with a 27-yard touchdown pass on the next drive, bringing the score to 28-14.

At 9:23 into the second quarter, the Rockets went 85 yards for 7 plays, resulting in a touchdown. Toledo had scored on a 36-yard pass. The score was now 28-21.

After a three-and-out by Kent State, Toledo tied the game up 28-28 with just 3:52 left in the half. This touchdown pass from Finn was 39 yards.

Kent State ended the half with a field goal, going into the locker rooms with a 31-28 lead. Cooper kept Kent State in the game with 134 rushing yards and a touchdown in the first half.

The Rockets had the first score of the second half with a field goal at 8:43 in the third quarter.

Sophomore kicker Andrew Glass could not handle the Glass Bowl on KSU’s next drive, missing a 35-yard field goal to tie the game.

“Anytime you get an opportunity to get points where you don’t get it, that’s big,” Lewis said. “That’s like a turnover, and in all these games you just want to continue to gather points whenever you can. Anytime you have an opportunity to and cant, it’s going to take a little bit of the wind out of the sails.”

After the missed field goal, Toledo followed up with a 11-play, 80-yard drive touchdown  off a 7-yard pass. This gave Toledo the lead for the first time in this game with 38 seconds left in the third quarter.

Toledo remains to have the MAC’s leading passing defense. The team added to its league-leading interception total when the Rockets intercepted Schlee’s pass just three plays into Kent State’s drive.

Toledo capitalized off the interception with a 41-yard touchdown pass to extend its lead even further 45-31. The Rockets concluded the night with a eight-yard touchdown pass to end the game at 52-31.

“We have to be able to develop that elite-winning mindset that when we have a team down, we keep them down,” Lewis said. “Against a good and high-character team or any team in this league, they are not going to quit.”

Finn carved up KSU’s defense for seven touchdowns on the day. He passed for 263 yards with six passing touchdowns. He led the team in rushing with 87 yards and a rushing touchdown.

This is the sophomore’s most touchdowns and yards passed of the season.

“He did a good job of extending plays,” Lewis said. “He had time to throw the ball, and when we moved him off his spot, we didn’t quite get him to the ground.”

Toledo’s passing defense held Schlee to his second-lowest passing numbers of the season. He threw for just 162 yards and one interception.

The Rockets held redshirt junior wide receiver Dante Cephas, who was the nation’s sixth-leading receiver going into Saturday, to 68 yards receiving and no touchdowns.

“We had good calculated shots down range where we had one on ones,” Lewis said. “Maybe the location of the target of the throw was a little off, and we didn’t quite come up with the receptions that we typically do.”

Cooper finished with 166 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Kent State takes on Akron in the battle of the Wagon Wheel at noon Saturday at Dix Stadium.

“It’s a big rivalry game – we have to defend our home turf,” Lewis said. “We have to handle the preparation the right way and and go about our business the right way so that we can continue to improve and compete at a really high level.”

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