Army entered Saturday with college football’s No. 1 rushing offense, but it was Kent State’s Dri Archer who stole the show running the football.
Archer ran wild for 222 yards and a touchdown in the Golden Flashes’ 31-17 road win. What is even more impressive is that he did it on 12 carries.
“Dri is just a special player,” KSU coach Darrell Hazell told KentStateSports.com. “Every time you hand him the ball, you expect him to go all the way. … Even when a play isn’t blocked well.”
Archer, who had scored just about every way an offensive player can score entering Saturday, also threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Spencer Keith in the second quarter.
“We saw on film that Army plays a whole lot of man defense and they don’t typically account for the quarterback,” Hazell said. “We expected Spencer to be wide open on that play, but the cornerback made a nice recovery. Dri had to throw a really good pass.”
Archer now has 625 yards and six touchdowns rushing, 225 yards and three touchdowns receiving and 525 yards and three scores returning kicks. Add his touchdown pass and that’s a yard short of 1,400 total yards and 13 touchdowns midway through the season.
With this win, Kent State is now 5-1 (3-0 in the Mid-American Conference) for the first time since 1973 and only the third time since just before World War II. It was the first road nonconference win for the Golden Flashes since 2007. Kent State has won three road games in a row for the first time since 2006.
Hazell called it the biggest win in a season turning into one for the ages for the Golden Flashes, who will become bowl eligible with one more victory.
“When you add the environment here, the fact that Army was building some momentum after a BCS win last week [over Boston College] and we were on the road, that has to be the best win of the season,” he said.
Army (1-5) and its triple-option offense ran for 325 yards as a team, which isn’t a great day considering the Knights ran for 516 yards last week against Boston College, and much of Saturday’s production came late in the game while down two touchdowns. Defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix was pleased with playing well as a unit against an unorthodox offensive scheme.
“We are six games into the season, and all of a sudden you have to prepare for a whole new offense that you never see because not many teams other than Army run it,” Nix said. “And they are good at it. It’s pretty satisfying to win a game like that because it shows how prepared we were.”
Nix had five total tackles, two tackles for a loss and a sack. He’s now fourth in Kent State history in both tackles for a loss (46.5) and sacks (18).
The Knights tried two fourth-down attempts in the second half and were twice turned away. Nix stuffed quarterback Trent Steelman on fourth-and-1 and cornerback Sidney Saulter later forced a fumble on fourth-and-2, which was then recovered by Danny Gress.
Linebacker Luke Batton recorded a career-high 16 tackles, 13 of them solo.
Keith finished the day with only 60 yards and a touchdown on 6-of-11 passing while Archer ran up and down the field. Trayion Durham added 65 yards and a touchdown.
The Golden Flashes, who are outscoring their opponents 27-0 in the first quarter this season, welcome Western Michigan (3-4) on Saturday and then have another tough road test with Rutgers (6-0) the next week.