This year’s Mediocrity Bowl..... err, Battle of the Wagon Wheel at Dix Stadium, was a fun, fun football game to watch. Two teams that mirror each other in skill level fighting it out for neighborhood bragging rights.
Two overtimes, big plays and even questionable calls were enough to entertain anyone who attended, whether KSU or Akron fan.
In the end Akron walked away with a 30-27 victory and retained ownership of the Wagon Wheel.
Kent State has no one to blame but them selves for this loss. After limiting the Zips to four consecutive three and out possessions in the fourth quarter, Junior Phil Garner was unable to handle an Akron punt, fumbling and giving the Zips a short field with four minutes and 24 seconds remaining. At the time the Flashes were firmly in control 21-17.
Akron quarterback Chris Jacquemain hit receiver Deryn Bowser for a 24-yard touchdown pass that was originally ruled incomplete. After reviewing the play it was reversed giving the Zips a 24-21 lead with one minute and 28 seconds remaining.
Just enough time for Kent State quarterback Julian Edelman to construct a 14-play drive to set up a game tying 32-yard field goal by Nate Reed at the end of regulation. The kick just barely made it through the uprights.
Both teams traded field goals in overtime until Reed missed his second chip shot of the game to give the Zips the victory. His first miss was from 27 yards, the second was from 23.
For the second year in a row the Flashes dominated in most phases of the game, but came out empty-handed against the Zips.
Akron rushing yards: 58
Kent State rushing yards: 256
Akron passing yards: 243
Kent State passing yards: 157
Akron total yards of offense: 301.
KSU total yards of offense: 413
The idea to play freshman wide receiver Kendrick Pressley was intelligent and well though out. Kent State coach Doug Martin had everyone thinking that Pressley may red-shirt this season since he did not join the Flashes until the first day of school.
Instead, he prepared him all week with three to four different routes and found innovative ways to get the ball in his hands today. Kent State first offensive play was actually an Edelman pass to Pressley. It was dropped. Go figure.
Pressley played much better though after that. He led all receivers with eight catches for 57 yards. He also ran the ball three times for 15 yards.
Not to bad of a debut for Pressley. He will help this team tremendously at the wide receiver position. They need all the help they can get.
WHY KEEP PLAYING HIM?
I really don’t like to rip into players, but I have to say something about Garner. His fumble on the punt return that set Akron up for its late touchdown was ridiculous. Why not fair catch? Garner nearly lost the punt that preceded that one too.
A few weeks back Martin said that he needed to determine the players who can and cannot perform in game situations. Unfortunately, I think Garner may be one of those players who cannot.
His numerous drops at the wide receiver position all season have constantly hindered this team. By my uneducated guess he had at least three dropped balls today. One he was helped out by a pass interference call on Akron, but the ball was in his hands and still somehow found the ground. He finished the game with one catch for 14 yards and three return yards on four attempts.
I hate to write any of that, because Garner is a talented player. Heck, there is a reason why I am typing and he is playing on Saturdays. Show it to everyone Mr. Garner.
WHY BOTHER ARGUING
I have already heard a few grumblings about the overturned Akron touchdown and the questionable holding call on Kent State defensive back Danny Sadler a few players earlier, I believe it was on third down.
Who cares? They are all moot points. If Kent State doesn’t fumble the punt then none of it even happens.
How many games can Kent State lose over the span of three years because of its special teams? So far it is two this season (Iowa State and Akron). It’s absurd.
I won’t be surprised if Martin is bludgeoned by the media a bit tomorrow. After the game he had this to say in his opening statement of the press conference.
”I’m very proud of our team that they played with class and they showed class after the game, which can’t be said about everybody and I am just really proud of them.”
No one was really sure what Martin meant by it other than to take the implication that he directed that quote toward Akron for something they may have did or said. Martin refused to elaborate on the quote by saying he was “done with it” when another reporter asked.
By not elaborating Martin has opened himself up to criticism, but then again he opened himself up just by saying it to begin with. It will be interesting to see how the quote is interpreted in tomorrow’s paper by numerous media outlets.
FIRE DOUG MARTIN?
Calm down nay Sayers. I am already getting comments that Martin needs to be fired after Saturday’s game.
Martin cannot make players catch punts or make field goals. He can only put those players in positions to succeed. While sometimes I do agree Martin that does not always make the best decisions. This is not one of those games.
Martin did a very good job of coaching this game and the loss wasn’t his fault. His pooch punt with Edelman in the first half was a great call, as was the new wrinkle by playing Pressley. i also liked his going for it on fourth down a dew times in the game.
Julian Edelman said it best in his post game remarks when he said this is a loss that is on the players. There was no reason to lose this game. I thought Martin coached the hell out of the game until overtime when I thought he should have attacked the end zone a little more.
But then again that’s a moot point. They should have never even been in overtime if Reed kicks and Garner catches.
Martin may or may not get fired at the end of the season. Losing this game doesn’t help his chances, but who knows.
He has struggled winning on Saturdays, but everything else about the team is good. Players are graduating; they rarely cause problems off the field; and the program, although it doesn’t show in the record, has made strides from where it was.