KENT: For the first time in the past few years, the Kent State offense won bragging rights to the coveted blue jerseys thanks to a 53-34 come-from-behind victory over the defense in Saturday morning’s jersey scrimmage at Dix Stadium.
With a complex point system that awarded a number of varying points for plays such as tackles for loss and forcing the offense into a three-and-out, KSU’s defense dominated early with the aid of two fumble recoveries.
“The defense came out strong and I think we caught them off guard a little bit,” said sophomore linebacker Matt Dellinger, who recovered one of the fumbles. “But towards the end, the offense picked up a rhythm and we had some mistakes on the defensive side that led to touchdowns.”
Freshman safety Kevin Bourne’s interception capped the first half and gave the defense a 24-4 halftime lead.
Setting up in the red zone in the second half, the offense was able to come back.
Senior David Fisher and sophomore Colin Reardon split time at quarterback with the first-team offense. Reardon scored on a 12-yard bootleg to the left to spark the offense.
Senior speedster Dri Archer turned a pitch out into another touchdown that kept the momentum with the offense.
Archer’s burst was set up by a key block from junior fullback Trayion Durham.
Durham, who has trimmed down to 248 pounds, has vowed to focus more this season on blocking for Archer. Both Durham and Archer ran for more than 1,000 yards last season.
Battling with sophomore Anthony Melchiori (Aurora) for short-kick duties for the upcoming season, freshman kicker Brad Miller made a 25-yard field goal. A 7-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Julian Durden gave the offense its first lead of the scrimmage.
The offense pulled away during goal-line situations, beginning with a touchdown run by Durham. Fisher then scrambled to his left and threw a touchdown pass to senior tight end Tim Erjavec.
The offense’s late scoring display was capped by a 1-yard plunge by junior running back Anthony Meray.
“We told our guys before the scrimmage that a lot of decisions are going to be made and that from this point forward, there is no offense versus defense,” first-year coach Paul Haynes said. “It’s going to be the Kent State Golden Flashes versus everybody else.”
Dissecting the film from the scrimmage over the weekend will be essential to the coaching staff as it updates a new depth chart — including the first mention of a first-team quarterback — on Monday.
As of Saturday, Haynes still wasn’t ready to tip his hand regarding who might have an edge in the battle to replace four-year starter Spencer Keith.
“It’s hard to say right now,” Haynes said of Fisher and Reardon in addition to a handful of others including freshman Nathan Strock (Zanesville). “There are a lot of things they did well. But what I really want to see out of them is how they control the ball and how they manage the offense. How are they in the huddle? What do they look like when a bad play happens? What do they look like when a good play happens? All of those things are important to me in who I want in front of that huddle.”
Kent State’s season opener against Liberty University is less than two weeks away. But so far at least, the Football Championship Subdivision Flames aren’t interested in swapping film with the Football Bowl Subdivision Flashes like most teams do before games.
“We’ll probably start looking at [Liberty] next week, but I don’t want to get too far ahead,” Haynes said. “… They wouldn’t exchange film, so I don’t know what they’re doing anyway.”
Liberty is led by second-year coach Turner Gill, who coached Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference for four seasons before moving on to the University of Kansas. But after the Jayhawks went just 1-16 in the Big 12 in his two seasons, Gill was out of a Division 1 coaching job.
Some former Kent State players were in attendance for the morning scrimmage. Included in the group was Keith (who is expected to graduate in December, then is planning on attending medical school back home in Arkansas), former linebacker Luke Batton, former defensive back Norman Wolfe (Buchtel) and former longtime director of football operations Casey Wolf.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/sports.abj.