OXFORD: Running back Trayion Durham had a pretty good idea what kind of day it was going to be for Kent State in Saturday’s game against host Miami.
“My first run, when I bounced it [14 yards] to the outside, that’s when I knew I was going to have a field day,” said Durham, who went on to accumulate a career-high 174 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. “To be honest, I felt like a train just going. Nothing could stop me.”
The Golden Flashes ran wild against the Redhawks for a 48-32 victory in the Mid-American Conference. In doing so, Kent State (9-1, 6-0 MAC) tied the school record for wins in a season.
Their eighth consecutive win secured the opportunity for the Flashes to play for the MAC East Division championship with their final two games of the regular season at Bowling Green next weekend and home against Ohio the day after Thanksgiving.
“This is a huge win for our program,” Kent State coach Darrell Hazell said. “It puts us at 6-0 in the MAC and we’re still in the running for some very nice things.”
In addition to Durham, junior Dri Archer contributed 151 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries and had two catches for 54 yards and a third touchdown to become the single-season record holder with 19 touchdowns with two regular season games to go.
Durham and Archer combined for 404 yards of offense and became KSU’s first 1,000-yard rushing tandem in the same season in program history.
“These are two spectacular players,” Hazell said. “The thing that I like about them is they get better each week. They come to work with a purpose and they both give you a little bit something different — a change of pace and power.
“They are a really good tandem that complement each other very well. But you can’t say enough good things about our guys up front. Those guys have been phenomenal in my opinion.”
Archer echoed the praise of the often-overlooked offensive line.
“We wanted to establish the run early in the game, so they kept handing the ball to me and Trayion,” said Archer, who finished with 218 all-purpose yards and his fourth three-touchdown game of the season. “And the offensive line was great. They were just in there blocking, moving the pile forward. We had big seams and me and Trayion were just hitting the hole.”
Two interceptions helped the Flashes build a big lead over the RedHawks (4-6, 3-3). KSU has a league-leading 18 interceptions and a plus-20 turnover ratio.
“The first interception by [defensive end Mark] Fackler was huge,” Hazell said. “It really kick-started the whole offense as well as the defense. We showed pressure from the outside, zone dropped him into the throwing lane and it was another athletic play by Fackler.”
It was Fackler’s third interception in the past three games.
In addition to the two touchdowns apiece by Durham and Archer in the first half, quarterback Spencer Keith (10-of-16 with a touchdown and two interceptions) also ran in a 28-yard touchdown as the Flashes built a 35-point first-half lead.
Kent State’s quick-strike offense even garnered the attention of former Flashes quarterback Josh Cribbs. With seven minutes to go in the first half, the Browns kick returner tweeted: “Kent State is dominating Miami of Ohio right now 35-7 ... Go Flashes!!!”
Led by senior quarterback Zac Dysert (37-of-50 for 455 yards), Miami began its comeback in the third quarter. Dysert shook off three sacks by defensive end Jake Dooley and two interceptions to throw four second-half touchdowns.
“We did a good job when we had to answer a drive late in the game to kind of keep [Miami] off balance,” Hazell said. “We gave up a lot of seam routes, but obviously Dysert’s a great quarterback, we knew that coming in.”
In addition to Archer’s 33-yard touchdown reception in the second half, the Flashes added two Freddy Cortez field goals — including a season-long 48-yarder in the third quarter.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.