Lack of run game, untimely turnovers result in second straight Kent State loss

Redshirt sophomore running back Xavier Williams gets run down by Miami defenders during first half on Oct. 26, 2019. The Golden Flashes lost 16-23 against Miami Ohio.

A week after putting up 38 points and almost 500 yards of total offense, Kent State did not score a touchdown until six minutes left in the third quarter.

At one point, Kent State running backs ran 20 times for 19 yards. They finished with 26 carries for 62 yards.

The Flashes lost 23-16 to Miami, in part due to a lack of a run game. Junior quarterback Dustin Crum ran for a team-high 64 yards on 13 carries.

Crum escaped pressure for most of the second half. Miami finished with three sacks, despite having defensive linemen in the backfield on most of Crum’s dropbacks.

“I just tried to sit in the pocket for as long as I could,” Crum said. “When things broke down, I used my legs when I had to. Miami did a good job trying to do some things up front to get after us.”

Crum finished 23 of 44 for 209 yards and an interception, snapping his nation-leading 193 pass streak without an interception. The interception came on a deep throw into double coverage with about five minutes left in the first quarter.

“I honestly don’t care (about the streak),” Crum said. “We lost. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.”

Two drops in the end zone by senior receiver Mike Carrigan resulted in just three points. The first drop resulted in a blocked field goal. While the second made the Flashes settle for a 42-yard field goal with 1:32 left in the fourth quarter and cut the RedHawk’s lead to 23-16.

“Mike’s one of our best players,” Lewis said. “He’s one of our seniors we can lean on. To me (the drops) are happenings. That’s not who Mike is. He’s a guy who was having success and getting releases and the ball is going to find him. I know and I trust him going forward.”

Carrigan has three drops that would have likely led to touchdowns in Kent State’s past two games.

But he was not the only senior who struggled.

Senior running back Jo-El Shaw saw limited action. He finished with four rushes for minus-11 yards and a fumble. The fumble was Shaw’s last carry and came with about three minutes left in the third quarter with the Flashes trailing 16-6.

Senior defensive back Jamal Parker and the secondary limited freshman quarterback Brett Gabbert finished 13 of 29 for 178 yards and a touchdown. The Flashes only sacked him once.

Miami tried to pick on Parker. They liked the matchup between Parker and junior receiver Dominique Robinson. Parker is listed at 5 foot 8 inches, while Robinson is listed at 6 foot 4 inches. The two battled on multiple plays, including three consecutive goal line fades to the right side of the end zone. All three passes were incomplete.

“Coach Kaufmann always tells us that we’re the best corners in the conference,” Parker said. “If the defense calls for us to be on an island, it’s our job to do our 1/11th and make sure we make the play. It was probably the most a team has thrown my way all season.”

A fumble midway through the fourth quarter setup freshman running back Craig Elmore’s first career rushing touchdown to cut Miami’s lead to 16-13.

But the RedHawks scored the deciding touchdown on a 47-yard run by junior running back Jaylon Bester to extend the lead to 23-13 with three minutes left. The RedHawks finished with 42 carries for 289 yards.

“They’re a good sized, unselfish unit up front,” Lewis said. “The non-conference whether it’s Ohio State, Cincinnati, you have to throw the stats out based on who they played. I thought we played the run right all game, especially towards the end when we give our offense an opportunity to make some plays at the very end. We preach our guys to be aggressive, to hit their gaps and have an opportunity to make big plays in the backfield. We need to do a better job doing that consistently.”

The Flashes would add a late field goal to cut the lead to 23-16, and they got the ball back with 30 seconds left. The RedHawks sacked Crum on the final play from scrimmage.

The Flashes next game is Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at Toledo. The Rockets are coming off a 37-34 overtime win against Eastern Michigan. They are currently 5-3, 2-2 MAC and 4-0 at home.

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