Football breaks season’s road-game curse at Bowling Green

Jacob Hansen, Reporter

Up until Tuesday, Kent State’s football team had not won a game on the road all season.

Then Wednesday, both the Flashes’ defense and offense dominated in a 40-6 victory at Bowling Green.

KSU totaled five sacks, 12 tackles and two interceptions. Senior defensive lineman Saivon Taylor-Davis had three of the team’s five sacks in the game.

“We really just tried to come into this game with a lot of movements and taking those one-on-one matchups and really trying to expose them in the areas we could,” Taylor-Davis said. “We played physical and violent, coming off the ball and making stuff happen when plays came our way.”

Bowling Green came into Wednesday with 33 sacks on the season, which tied for second in the nation.

Against Kent State, the Falcons had zero sacks.

“We knew it was going to be a huge piece in this game,” coach Sean Lewis said. “Their defensive front coming in was number two in the country in sacks per game and we kept our kid clean, no sacks all night long which is an unbelievable job.”

Kent State improves to 4-6 on the year and 3-3 in Mid-American Conference play.

“It is something good teams do, they win on the road and you have to win on the road,” Lewis said. “For us to accomplish our goals that are still ahead of us, we needed to win on the road tonight and we are a really good football team and we played like it tonight.”

Bowling Green is 5-5 overall and 4-2 in the MAC. The loss ended BGSU’s three-game win streak.

On the opening kick-off, the Flashes recovered a fumble at the Bowling Green 24 after a short kick that bounced out of the hands of the Falcons. Kent State went three-and-out, and sophomore kicker Andrew Glass missed a 37-yard field goal.

Kent State brought the ball to Bowling Green’s 13-yardline on the team’s second drive. KSU went for it on fourth down, but came away with nothing.

On KSU’s third possession of the night, senior inside linebacker DJ Taylor intercepted the ball after redshirt junior quarterback Collin Schlee’s pass hit off a Kent State helmet. The Falcons still could not score.

Four seconds into the second quarter, Schlee faked a quarterback draw and then threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior running back Bryan Bradford – this was his first receiving touchdown of the season. KSU now had the lead, 7-0.

Bowling Green brought the next drive all the way to the Kent State 24-yard line. The Falcons went for it on fourth and one and were stopped. This made BGSU 0-3 on fourth down to this point.

Starting at Kent State’s 30, the Flashes brought the ball down to the 4-yard line in 13 plays. Schlee had run it in for four yards out to put Kent State up 14-0 with 4:43 left in the half.

“Any time you have a unit that is playing so well for you and getting the ball back for you, it gives you confidence to settle in,” Lewis said. “We knew coming into this thing that there was a lot of defense that was going to get thrown at us, so we had to settle into the game, see how the pieces on the board were playing out.”

A seven-yard punt by freshman Sami Sir set the Flashes up at the KSU 49 with just 3:05 left in the half. Kent State scored again with a 21-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Devontez Walker.

Walker returned after leaving the last game against Ball State with a torso injury. Going into Wednesday, he was second on the team in receiving yards with 630. Now he has 716 yards and 10 touchdowns

“He battled through the injury and played through some discomfort,” Lewis said. “We knew that we needed him, especially when Cephas went down, so for him to step up and fight through that and the pain he was in and to have a performance that he did kind of speaks to his character.”

KSU failed on the two-point conversion attempt. The Flashes up 20-0 with just 2:02 left in the half. Kent State scored all 20 points in the second quarter.

Lewis talked about what changed.

“It was attention to detail, being able to win in certain situations,” Lewis said, “throwing with a little bit more anticipation, taking advantage of the opportunities that were presented and greater focus especially in that read area.”

Schlee finished the half with 133 yards passing, two touchdown passes, a touchdown run and an interception.

Redshirt junior wide receiver Dante Cephas returned after missing last game. Before Wednesday, he ranked 28th nationally in receiving yards with 731. He later left the game towards the end of the first quarter with an injury and did not return.

“I feel for those kids, I really do, but at the end of the day if someone goes down, does the outcome of the game change? No,” Lewis said. “Our kids do an unbelievable job embodying our No. 1 core belief of improving and competing and to be an alpha each and every single day.”

Senior wide receiver Ja’Shaun Poke led KSU in receiving yards at the half with 54. Junior running back Marquez Cooper had 69 rushing yards.

On Kent State’s first drive of the second half, the team brought it to Bowling Green’s 34 yard line. KSU went for it on fourth and four, but was stopped.

On the first drive of the third quarter, the Falcons went for it on fourth down with a fake punt, but they were stopped for the fourth time on fourth down. Kent State gained possession at the Bowling Green 48.

Glass capitalized off the good field position with a 26-yard field goal, bringing his team’s lead to 23-0 at 8:41.

With 4:29 left of the quarter, BGSU’s senior quarterback Matt McDonald threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Tyrone Broden.

Bowling Green failed the two-point conversion, making it a 23-6 game. The team did not score the rest of the game. Kent State scored in three of its four fourth-quarter drives.

Just under one minute into the fourth quarter, Kent State redshirt junior linebacker CJ Harris intercepted a pass from McDonald.

KSU scored on the next drive when Schlee threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Walker, extending the lead 30-6. This was Walker’s second touchdown of the game.

“We were doing things all week to get our chemistry back again,” Walker said. “[Schlee] gave me a great ball on both of those touchdown plays so that was on him – I give him all the credit.”

Kent State continued to put up points after connecting for a 27-yard field goal upping the lead 33-6 with 6:35 left.

On the next drive graduate student linebacker scored off a pick-six off of back-up quarterback, junior Camden Orth making it 40-6.

“When we took that field, we knew it was going to be a four quarter battle,” Lewis said. “We wanted to put together a complete game and for the soul collectors out and dominate early and to sustain that all the way through and get the final pick-six to end the game was very fitting.”

Schlee finished with 214 passing yards and three touchdowns. Schlee now has 1,945 passing yards on the season and 12 touchdowns.

Walker was the leading receiver with 86 yards and two touchdowns. Cooper had 93 rushing yards in the game.

Kent State gave up 246 passing yards in this game. The team has been surrendering an average of 282.8 passing yards per game.

Bowling Green went 0-6 on fourth down and was just 6-17 on third down.

“We knew what to expect on first and second down and we knew once we got them to a third down, that would be our gameplan,” Taylor-Davis said. “We watched a lot of film, and we came out and hopped on the basics this week.”

Kent State plays its second to last game against Eastern Michigan University at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Dix Stadium. To qualify for a bowl game, the Flashes must win each of its final games.

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