Northern Illinois’ defense allowed just 70 yards and recorded seven sacks and the Kent State offense spotted the Huskies two early scores on turnovers.
It all amounted to a 40-10 loss at Northern Illinois in DeKalb, Ill. It was the second consecutive road loss for the Golden Flashes (1-5, 0-2 Mid-American Conference), who are struggling under first-year coach Darrell Hazell.
“We didn’t execute as well as we can or should and I thought they played well,” said Hazell. “They put pressure on our outside and their guys on the inside pushed the pocket on us.”
Northern Illinois wasted little time jumping out to an early lead when Naba Jefferson intercepted a Kent State pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.
It was one of two passes Kent State starting quarterback Spencer Keith threw before being removed for redshirt freshman quarterback Cedric McCloud.
McCloud was reinstated by the NCAA last week after missing the first part of the season due to academic ineligibility.
He returned to his status as backup to Keith against host Ohio last weekend.
A few drives later, a McCloud fumble set up the Huskies (3-3, 1-1) for another score.
Northern Illinois led 14-3 despite gaining just 45 yards of total offense at the time.
“We shot ourselves in the foot early spotting them 14 points,” said Hazell. “You can’t turn the ball over in any football game, especially against a good team.”
Kent State had three turnovers overall.
And the offense was abysmal.
McCloud, in his first collegiate action, completed six passes for 63 yards.
Freshman Trayion Durham led the team in rushing with 39 yards on 15 carries.
Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish was 12-of-15 passing for 113 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Huskies kicker Mathew Sims made all four of his field-goal attempts, connecting from 25, 31, 44 and 34 yards.
Junior linebacker Luke Batton (Nordonia) led the defense with 12 tackles.
Sophomore safety Luke Wollet (Poland Seminary) accounted for the lone Kent State touchdown, scoring on a 36-yard fumble return in the fourth quarter.
For Wollet, the Sept. 24 MAC East Division Player of the Week, it was his second career defensive touchdown following a 12-yard interception return he had against Akron on Oct. 9, 2010.
Kent State hosts Miami at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
The game will be a part of the homecoming weekend festivities at Kent State.