KENT - It was not a pretty game by any stretch of the imagination on black Friday afternoon at Dix Stadium. When it was all done, Buffalo had escaped with a 9-6 victory in a game dominated by punts, and as one can tell by the score, field goals.
Buffalo went 11 plays in 63 yards over the final five minutes of the game to set up a 22 yard field goal by UB place kicker A.J. Principe with five seconds left in the game to take a 9-6 victory.
The first half saw KSU force three Buffalo turnovers but they couldn't capitalize on them. Buffalo did capitalize on Kent State's only first half turnover. A punt bounced up and hit KSU's Leneric Muldrow in the foot and the Bulls recovered it. That led to another Principe field goal at the 5:23 mark of the second quarter coming off a five play, 35 yard drive. Buffalo had a 3-0 lead going into halftime.
In the second half Kent State got their ground game going behind true freshman running back Dri Archer. The Golden Flashes tied the game at the 0:15 mark of the third quarter with a 39 yard field goal from Freddy Cortez. Archer had eight carries for 56 yards in the third quarter. A 77 yard kickoff return by Archer gave KSU the ball at the UB 13 yard line, but once again KSU settled for a 26 yard field goal by Cortez to tie the game at six with 5:25 left before Buffalo went on their game clinching game.
Senior Anthony Magazu played quarterback for KSU and was not very effective going 5/14 for 31 yards. Archer led KSU on the ground with 10 carries for 93 yards and with 217 all-purpose yards.
Buffalo's workhorse was Brandon Thermilus, who is a load of a running back at about 220 pounds. Thermilus finished with 29 carries for 123 yards. Buffalo QB Zach Maynard also struggled, going 13/32 with two interceptions.
Penalties haunted Kent State all day as they had nine for 80 yards, with many of them coming at crucial times to stop KSU drives or momentum.
Punter Matt Rinehart may have been Kent State's MVP in the game. The Dover product punted 10 times for a 43.1 yard average, including a long of 58.
Kent State's defense played their heart out all day, but could not overcome the struggles by the offense. The defense forced four turnovers but the offense wasn't able to generate much, going 1/12 on third down conversions and producing just 159 total yards.
Kent State finishes the season at 5-7, and 4-4 in the MAC which leaves KSU at fourth place in the MAC East , while losing their final three games.
It was senior day for the Golden Flashes as they said good bye to 21 seniors prior to the game. Several of those seniors will graduate during the fall commencement ceremony in December, while the rest will graduate in May. Kent State has now lost their last three senior day games.
"Our players battled hard, but we weren't healthy enough to produce points," head coach Doug Martin said. "Our defense played hard and our special teams played really well. We just did our best with the cards we were dealt. When you have to play three quarterbacks in a year, that's just the way that goes. Unfortunately, we've suffered through that the last five years, playing three quarterbakcs in a season. If we play with one quarterback for a year, we are going to be a good football team and a winning football team. We're really proud with the way our players fought."
FLASHES IN THE WILDCAT - As expected, Kent State used the Wildcat formation in Friday's game. Matthew Hurdle, the former quarterback at KSU was back in the shotgun for a few plays. The Flashes used jet sweep action and the zone read to try and run the football. On a day like Friday, not much of anything was working on offense. Hurdle carried four times for zero net yards. After a foolish personal foul in the third quarter on Hurdle, he did not appear back in the game as the Wildcat. Anthony Bowman and Kendrick Pressley combined to carry the ball five times for 22 yards.
ARCHER THE PLAYMAKER - True freshman running back Dri Archer was the Flashes' main source of offense on Friday. The former track star out of Venice High School in Florida carried the ball 10 times for 93 yards, caught one pass for nine yards and returned three kickoffs for 115 yards, including a 77 yard return. It all added up to 217 all-purpose yards for the 5-7 speedster. Kent State found some success when they came out in the second half and ran some speed option between Magazu and Archer. "Dri is the fastest guy on our team and he has made plays all year, he doesn't make plays like he is a freshman," Doug Martin said. "When you get him on the corner, he can be really dangerous. That was the plan."
DIX ATTENDANCE - While the announced attendance was 15,131, not many people came out to Dix Stadium on Friday to watch Kent State and UB conclude the season. With today's announced crowd, the Flashes totaled 93,072 fans on the season at home, for an average of 15,512 fans per six home dates.
FUTURE BRIGHT FOR FLASHES? Kent State fans have a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the 2010 KSU football season and beyond. Based on 2009's numbers, and not including Eugene Jarvis (who may or may not receive a sixth year from the NCAA), Kent State returns a lot of production. They return 89% of their rushing yards (1,217 of 1,375), 97% of their passing yards (2,492 of 2557), and 76% of their receiving yards (1,952 of 2557). The Flashes will return their top six point scorers on offense. On defense Kent State returns their top six tacklers and 13 of the 15 interceptions were made by players who will be back. Kent State also returns their primary punt returner and kick returners from the season, as well as their place kicker, punter and long snappers. With core players such as Brian Lainhart, Cobrani Mixon, Monte Simmons, Dan Hartman, Josh Pleasant on defense and Spencer Keith, Tyshon Goode, Jacquise Terry, Dri Archer, Brian Winters and Chris Anzevino on offense, the future looks very bright for Golden Flash football.
MAC CHAMPIONSHIP SET - Earlier in the day Ohio defeated Temple 35-17 to win the MAC East division. The Bobcats will face the Central Michigan Chippewas in the MAC Championship game on Friday, December 4 in Detroit. It marks the second straight year that Kent State has beaten the team that won the East Division. In 2008 KSU beat Buffalo 24-21. This season Kent State beat Ohio 20-11 in Athens for their most impressive win of the season. After taking in today's game as well as following the team the entire season, I'm not sure if I am more proud or frustrated by that fact that the Golden Flashes have beaten the East champ the last couple of seasons.