‘How about them Golden Flashes’: Football clinches fourth-consecutive Wagon Wheel victory


Brady Hamilton

Kent State freshman quarterback Devin Kargman throws the ball as the Akron defense closes in at Dix Stadium Oct. 22.

Jacob Hansen, Reporter

Right before Saturday’s kickoff against Akron, coach Sean Lewis realized his starting quarterback could not play.

He put freshman backup Devin Kargman in for his first collegiate start. He led the Flashes to their fourth-straight Wagon Wheel victory.

“He put himself in a position to be successful,” Lewis said. “He’s been here since January, and since the minute he has arrived on campus, he’s done a great job of approaching everything for the position that he wanted.”

The Kent State football team beat the Zips 33-27 at Dix Stadium for its twelfth-straight home win. That streak is the longest in program history. The team improved to 3-5 on the year and is now fourth in the Mid-American Conference East at 2-2.

Akron is 1-7 on the year and 0-4 in the MAC.

“How about them Golden Flashes?” Lewis said. “We knew we were going to have some guys down and key contributors down. We’ve been rallying around a cry of, ‘So what, now what?’ At the end of the day, things are going to happen and events are going to take place. And that’s the past, and we are going to learn from it.”

The Golden Flashes hoist the wagon wheel in triumph after winning its fourth-straight game against Akron Oct. 22. (Brady Hamilton)

Kargman finished with 213 passing yards and two touchdowns.

Redshirt junior QB Collin Schlee, who has thrown for 1,548 yards and eight touchdowns this season, had started in all seven of the team’s previous games. He sat out with a right-knee injury. This year is his first collegiate starting season.

Graduate student defensive end Zayin West, who had two sacks in the game, said the late change did not faze his team.

“It is a next-man-up mentality here,” West said. “We got guys down, they are going to give us energy and we’re going to do it for our brothers like always.”

Kent State had possession first Saturday. Junior running back Marquez Cooper, who was ranked 12th nationally going into Saturday, brought KSU to the 37-yard line. The drive ended with a missed field goal by sophomore kicker Andrew Glass on a 37-yard field goal attempt.

Kent State running back Marquez Cooper shouts after scoring a touchdown against Akron during the game on Oct. 22. (Brady Hamilton)

Akron scored on the very first play of the team’s offensive drive with an 80-yard touchdown pass to go up early 7-0.

“The first play of the game was a nice pitch and catch,” Lewis said. “It was a really well designed play, and we have to read our keys better, but our kids didn’t flinch.”

The Flashes were forced to punt on the next possession. Akron marched the ball down to Kent State’s 30-yard line. The Zips redshirt junior quarterback DJ Irons threw for a 20-yard touchdown, but KSU’s redshirt sophomore JoJo Evans read the play for an interception.

Kent State had just 13 passing yards of offense. Its only run was 50 yards. Akron had 110 passing yards.

“Even though it didn’t start great, nothing changed,” Lewis said. “There is a lot of emotions that go into that. That is a big time ball game, 20,000 people, selling out Dix, that is a big time atmosphere.”

Akron kicked a 22-yard field goal at 10:52 in the second quarter, bringing its lead to 10-0.

The Flashes answered right back with their first touchdown of the game from redshirt junior running back Bryan Bradford, who took it 58 yards to the end zone.

“The guys were not flinching after with a slow start,” Lewis said. “They responded in all three phases. It is everything we talk about every single day, in the face of adversity with a lot of good players down, a lot of other good players stepped up.”

About five and a half minutes later, Kargman hit redshirt sophomore Devontez Walker for a 35-yard touchdown pass. KSU had its first lead of the afternoon at 14-10 with 4:56 left in the half.

The Zips responded with a touchdown to regain the lead, 17-14. Redshirt junior quarterback DJ Irons scored on a five-yard touchdown run, where his team pushed him in the endzone.

KSU opened the next drive with a 41-yard return, taking it to the Zips 48-yard line. Off the great field position, Walker caught his second touchdown pass of the day, taking a 21-17 lead.

The Flashes celebrate after a touchdown against Akron. (Brady Hamilton)

“[Kargman] put his trust in me,” Walker said. “We got him through everything out there, and the coaches called my number to make plays for the family.”

Cooper already had 97-yards rushing at the half. Kargman had 118 yards passing and two touchdowns. Kent State’s defense gave up 319 yards of offense in the first half.

The Flashes surrendered 109 rushing yards, which is more than the Zips average a game, averaging just 67.3 yards per game.

On Akron’s first drive of the second half, redshirt senior cornerback Montre Miller came up with KSU’s second interception of the game.

From their own 12, Kargman completed a 46-yard pass, bringing it to the opponents’ 42. Walker scored his third touchdown of the game – this one was a 14-yard touchdown run.

“[Kargman] made big plays when we needed to have them,” Lewis said. “At no point in time was the game too big and that is a testament to that kid’s work and a testament to the way everyone rallied round him in all three phases.”

KSU was now up 27-17 after a failed two-point conversion attempt.

Akron went on to punt on the next possession. Glass then scored a field goal on a 27-yard attempt.

The Zips followed up with a touchdown on the next drive.

With 13:12 left in the game, pinned at the back of the end zone, Akron got a bad punt and Kent State up with at the 27-yard line. The Flashes capitalized off the good field position with a field goal, extending the lead 33-24.

KSU’s defense held Akron to only a field goal in the fourth quarter, which came with 39 seconds left in the game. West recorded two sacks in the fourth quarter.

The golden Flashes take their places at the line of scrimmage. (Brady Hamilton)

“We knew they were a big passing team,” West said. “We definitely had to stop the QB running and then when we had to pressure them, we had to affect him often and early.”

The Flashes gave up 383 passing yards on defense. Cooper had 137 rushing yards in the game, making it back-to-back games of over 100 yards rushing.

Kent State plays Ball State at noon Nov. 1 at Dix Stadium. Lewis looks to represent Northeast Ohio’s best team.

“In between those white lines for the past four years, there’s been one team to run northeast Ohio,” Lewis said. “The wheel stays here, and for over 1,100 days, the wheel is here.  No one gets to touch it besides the people of the Kent State Golden Flashes.”

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