The Kent State University football faithful were tested in the Mid-American Conference Championship game on Friday evening. All season long the Golden Flashes proved their resilience. Yet as Jordan Lynch, the quarterback of the Northern Illinois Huskies, slashed for big yards, the question pressed in the fourth quarter: Did the Kent players have a comeback within them?
The answer was a resounding yes, a sudden 96-yard scoring drive followed by a delightfully stunning fumble recovery, Zach Hitchens with the tying touchdown. And when Northern Illinois jumped back into the lead? Kent countered with its own drive, Spencer Keith connecting with Tim Erjavec for the score, just 44 seconds remaining.
The second overtime proved the difference, Kent falling short of the title, and a spot in a BCS bowl game. The temptation surely is to look at Northern Illinois heading to the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day and feel no small amount of what-might-have-been, Miami a long distance from the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where Kent will play Arkansas State.
Then, there’s calculating the distance Kent football has traveled in two seasons under Coach Darrell Hazell, winning 15 of the past 18 games, accomplishing feats unmatched in the program’s history, reaching the first bowl game in four decades, and all in such a captivating way. What a pleasure to see this Kent team in action one more time.