In what could be one of the biggest wins in recent program history, Kent State went to Athens and beat the Ohio Bobcats 20-11 on Saturday afternoon to improve to 4-4, 3-1 in the MAC.
In a game that wasn't always pretty, ended up turning into a thing of beauty for the Golden Flashes. The Kent State defense didn't allow an offensive touchdown, had 15 tackles for loss for - 68 yards and 7 sacks. Kevin Hogan had 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss on the day. The Golden Flashes held the Bobcats to - 9 rushing yards on the day.
QB Spencer Keith was 23-38 for a career high 273 yards, and 2 TD's. Tyshon Goode had 9 receptions for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns. WR Sam Kirkland had a career day with 5 catches for 80 yards. RB Jacquise Terry was a workhorse with 31 carries for a career high 110 yards.
Kicker Freddy Cortez had two big field goals on the day.
The game was a contest of field position, defense and special teams. KSU won that battle and won the game. It was a team effort. Doug Martin spoke last week about how KSU isn't spectacular in any area, but when they play together, they are a pretty good team. Maybe they proved that Saturday afternoon when they beat a pretty good Ohio team.
KSU head coach Doug Martin got a Gatorade bath on the sideline from his players with under one minute to play.
KSU head coach Doug Martin:
On Kent State’s play overall:
It was a great team win by our guys. I’m not sure that we were great in any area, but we are good together. We’re playing good team football right now in all phases. Our guys have a real belief in each other, and that showed today. It was a tremendous effort. We beat a good football team today, Ohio is a good team.
On the team’s play after tough loss to Bowling Green:
They got tired of being sick and tired. They are still shaken up by that Bowling Green game. I think emotionally they have gotten themselves back and playing the type of football that we should be playing defensively, and we’re contesting the ball better in the air. The coaches have done a great job simplifying things a bit with zone coverage, and that’s helped us some too.
On how to attack Ohio’s Defense:
When you play a team like Ohio, you have to throw the ball. You have to try and stretch the ball deep. We tried to create explosion plays with the passing game, you either get the interference or you make the catch. We had several chances to make some plays in the first half that we just didn’t make. In the second half, we made some plays.
On the success of the running game:
That was a key contributor to why we could run the ball. If we don’t get the running game going, then we wouldn’t be able to keep taking those shots down field. We would be in third and long all day long. We told Jacquise (Terry) that we would have to run the ball for four-five yards to keep us at 3rd and medium. I thought our offensive line played pretty good too.
Kent State’s defense has administered a nice turnaround since a 36-35 loss on October 10 to Bowling Green. The defense has allowed 6 and 11 points the last two weeks respectively in two wins. On Saturday in Athens, Kent State’s defense was dominant. Kent State held Ohio to 164 total yards. Within that was holding the Bobcats to – 9 rushing yards, which is a new school record for fewest rushing yards allowed. Even though Ohio hadn’t given up a sack in the previous five games, the Golden Flashes changed that statistic. KSU had seven sacks and had 15 tackles for a loss on the day for a combined 68 yards lost for Ohio. Kevin Hogan had 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss on the day. Monte Simmons had 1.5 sacks, Sam Frist and Danny Sadler both had one while Quinton Rainey and Dorian Wood were each credited 0.5 sack each. The seven sacks were KSU’s most since 1994, also against Ohio. Kent State was able to get a lot of pressure from their front four down lineman, as well as when they brought blitz packages. Sadler, Brian Lainhart and Dan Hartman each had an interception. The three picks are the most since last season against Akron when they had three. Josh Pleasant had seven tackles and a forced fumble. The KSU defense has not allowed a touchdown in eight straight quarters.
It was a career day all the way around for Kent State’s skill position people on offense. QB Spencer Keith set career highs in yards with 273. RB Jacquise Terry set a career high with 110 rushing yards on 31 carries. It was his third 100 yard rushing game this season and he has rushed for at least 75 yards in each of his five games at running back this season. WR Tyshon Goode had a career high nine catches for 105 yards with two touchdowns on Saturday. Not to be out done, WR Sam Kirkland set career highs with five catches for 80 yards.
FIELD POSITION GAME
Kent State did a great job of winning the field position battle, especially in the first half on Saturday. Twice, KSU took over in Ohio territory thanks to two good punt returns by Leneric Muldrow. Meanwhile, punter Matt Rinehart and the punt coverage unit was busy pinning the Bobcats deep in their own territory. The last five possessions of the first half the Bobcats took over at their own 4, 3, 12, 30 and 19 yard line. Rinehart had three punts over 50 yards, making that 12 punts over 50 yards on the season.
Speaking of Muldrow, he has been a very nice replacement for Eugene Jarvis as the team’s primary punt returner. Muldrow hasn’t fumbled or even bobbled any punts on the season, looks pretty natural doing it, and has come up with a few big returns like yesterday against Ohio.
Two key turnovers could have cost KSU in the first half Saturday. The first came off a bizarre play in which Lainhart intercepted a pass then on the return fumbled it, and Ohio’s Jordan Thompson returned it to the KSU 4 yard line. That’s when the Golden Flashes’ defense got stingy, forcing an OU field goal. Later, Keith fumbled while lunging for the end zone down at the Ohio 2 yard line, ending a scoring opportunity early in the second quarter. In the second half after Keith threw an interception and Julian Posey returned it into KSU territory, Dan Hartman was able to pick off a Tyler Tettleton pass to end the Bobcats’ chance. On the day, both teams had three turnovers. Kent State is +5 in turnovers in conference play.
Kent State’s victory on Saturday was as enjoyable a win as I can remember since following the program several seasons ago. Doug Martin has said this was “a different group.” Kent State has a solid team. They are a team that isn’t great in any one area, but is solid all the way around. I don’t think many teams in the MAC will want to play KSU now, with all the confidence they seem to be playing with. I am not sure what will happen the rest of the 2009 season, but I know me and many other KSU fans are gearing up for what could be a pretty fun, memorable last four games of the season, and hopefully it will be more than four games. I hope Kent State can create an environment next week that will be a home field advantage when they take on Western Michigan. The team deserves it.
Lainhart got his fifth interception of the season and his 13thof his career, that is tied for third in KSU history, he has caused 14 turnovers in his last 15 games…Hogan increased his career sack total to 21.5, he is 3.5 sacks away from the all time spot…Hartman got his third interception of the season and matched a career high with six tackles…It was Sadler’s first career interception…Senior LB Anthony Mirando had a career high six tackles…KSU has won three of their first four MAC games for the second time since 1986…Kent State’s 34:23 time of possession was their highest of the season…KSU had a season high six third down conversions…KSU has won four of their last five in Athens.
KENT STATE (4-4, 3-1 MAC)
OHIO (5-3, 3-1 MAC)