Flashes run away from Bison. Win 54-14
Kent,Oh- The Kent State Golden Flashes hosted the Howard Bison (FCS) in their home opener Saturday afternoon. No one was sure what to expect when this one began as both programs lost hard fought games last week to superior opponents. Kent State made sure this one was never in doubt as they came out with a special intensity this afternoon, as first year head coach Sean Lewis picked up his first career victory. The Golden Flashes cruised to a 54-17 victory, eclipsing over 500 yards of total offense.
The Kent State offense was humming today, so much so that the 54 points put up by the Golden Flashes was the most points scored by a Kent State football team since 2008 on the road at Miami (Oh.) So while it has been almost 10 years since the 50 point threshold was crossed, you have to go back over two decades (1996) to find the last time the crowd at Dix Stadium witnessed this many points for the home team. On a day where most of the damage was done on the ground the Golden Flashes had things going early as they made sure Caylin Newton and the Bison never got things going.
The Bison offense moved the ball easily last week, as quarterback Caylin Newton accounted for 532 yards of total offense. This week was a completely different story as Kent State held Newton to just 200 yards of total offense. The Flashes defense took away the running lanes for Newton, essentially cutting his skill set in half, forcing him to stay in the pocket. Not only was the pass rush by the Flashes disrupting things for the Bison, but big special teams plays really helped set up the Kent State offense.
Special Teams. Special Day.
After forcing a three and out on the first Bison possession, the Flashes nearly blocked the ensuing punt but just missed. The defense set the tone for the offense as Kent State scored seven plays later on a quarterback keeper from the three yard line. Kent State quarterback Woody Barrett led the Flashes down the field with a mix of the run and pass, as the sophomore looked very poised against the Bison defense.
The Flashes punt team was finally able to break through, after being close on the first two Bison punts. Following the blocked punt the Flashes offense started their third offensive series from the 15 yard line, and scored on the very next play as running-back Jo-El Shaw scored out of the wildcat. The Flashes defense would again make things difficult for the Bison on Howard’s next possession when the Bison negated a big gain with a silly personal foul penalty. At this point you could already see Newton trying to do too much as he forced a pass over the middle that Kent State safety Juantez McRae to jump the route and again set the Kent offense up with a short field.
Run. Run. And Run again
While the Kent offense went three and out on the ensuing possession following the pick, the Bison would again shoot themselves in the foot their next series. When Newton stood in the pocket and delivered a strike to receiver Kyle Anthony, things seemed to be turning around for the Bison, that is until the play was called back due to Anthony pushing off. The next play the Flashes brought the house, forcing Newton scramble around in the end zone before throwing it away off his back foot, while he avoided the sack Newton threw the ball into no mans land, and intentional grouding was called. The Flashes defense had forced a safety, thus extending their lead to 16-0 in the first quarter.
A 34 yard field goal by Matthew Trickett and a second touchdown run by Jo-El Shaw gave Kent State a 26-0 lead to end the first half.
The Flashes were really able to run the ball all game as the weather seemed to neutralize the passing attack of both teams, as the Golden Flashes would go on to to rush for 355 yards as an offense, led by Justin Rankin (147 yard 1 TD) and Jo-El Shaw (105 yards 3TD.) Coming into the game Coach Sean Lewis made sure his team knew this game started with stopping the run, “every game we get to define who we’re going to be.” Today the Flashes won this game in the trenches as the Kent State offensive and defensive lines gave Howard fits all day.
No comeback today
After the first half lasted nearly two hours, the halftime break was needed for everyone. The Bison came out looking refreshed and poised for a comeback as they forced the Flashes into a three and out to start the half. Following the Kent punt the Bison marched down the field and finally got themselves on the board when Newton connected with Anthony for a Bison touchdown. With the score sitting at 26-7, the game was far from out of reach as the third quarter had just begun. The only problem was that no one seemed to tell Kent State that Howard wanted to make a comeback.
The Kent State offense got the points back as Justin Rankin ran away from the Bison defense on the way to a 61 yard touchdown run. Rankin had been running the ball well all afternoon but had yet to cross the goal line until this third quarter score. This would get the scoring started for the Flashes in the 3rd as they would score two more touchdowns, including Jo-El Shaw’s third score on the day. The highlight of the quarter though was when freshman wide receiver Isiah McKoy did his best Randy Moss impersonation when he “mossed” the Howard defensive-back to grow the Kent State lead to 47-14 .
The Golden Flashes offense made sure they crossed the half century mark early on in the fourth quarter as Will Matthews continued the strong rushing attack for the Flashes when he galloped into the end zone untouched, to grow the lead to its final resting place of 54-17.
The Kent State Golden Flashes begin a three week road trip next week when they travel to Happy Valley to take on Penn State, before heading down South to battle the Rebels of Ole Miss.