KENT: For as much national exposure as Kent State junior Dri Archer received following his second three-touchdown performance Saturday, Golden Flashes coach Darrell Hazell believes a portion of the credit should go to teammate Trayion Durham.
While the do-it-all Archer once again found the end zone three different ways in Kent State’s 41-14 shredding of host Eastern Michigan for its first 4-1 start since 1977, it was sophomore running back Durham who was named Mid-American Conference Eastern Division Offensive Player of the Week for his career-high, 116-yard, two-touchdown effort.
“I didn’t realize he’d piled up that many yards until I saw the stat sheet after the game,” Hazell said Monday at his weekly news conference. “On the field, it didn’t seem like that much. But watching the game film Sunday, it was impressive.”
Durham’s workmanlike outing was all the more impressive considering he surpassed the 100-yard plateau on 24 carries in only three quarters, for an average gain of 4.8 yards.
“Even on what looked like no-gain plays, [Durham] gained a couple yards,” KSU Deputy Athletic Director Tom Kleinlein marveled after the news conference. “There were some plays where I’d look up at the board and see he’d gained 3 yards. I’m like, ‘How’d he do that on that play?’ ”
For starters, it’s hard for solo defenders to drag down the 6-foot, 250-pound bulldozer. Durham often eludes the initial tackler. Many times, he can’t be stopped until multiple defenders gang up on him, and even then, he often drags the pile an additional yard or two.
It was Durham’s second consecutive game in which he’d scored twice, giving the Cincinnati native five touchdowns in as many games. Over the last three games, Durham is averaging 106.3 yards of rushing, which is good for fifth in the MAC and 35th in the nation.
To be fair, Archer already earned the league’s player spotlight twice this season, or he might have been the Flashes’ representative. Instead, Saturday’s game highlights earned Archer a coveted ESPN helmet sticker from analyst Lou Holtz.
“Dri’s so fast, once he breaks the first line of attack and gets out in the open, he’s gone,” senior quarterback Spencer Keith said. “Anytime they kick it to him, on the sidelines, we’re all wide-eyed and ready to see what happens.”
Archer began his highlight-reel afternoon Saturday with a 5-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. Just getting warmed up, the speedster then ran back a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half (his third scoring kick return of the season).
Later in the quarter, Archer tacked on a 64-yard run to complete his scoring trifecta and increase his team-leading touchdown total to 11 through five games.
“The guy that I can compare [Archer] to the most is [former Ohio State receiver] Teddy Ginn,” said Hazell, a second-year coach at KSU who previously served seven years as the Buckeyes’ receivers coach. “Not only top-end speed wise, but his ability to take it to the house anytime he has the ball in his hands.”
Archer finished with 222 all-purpose yards on 13 touches just a week after setting the bar for the season’s top Division I all-purpose yardage game (350 yards) on another three-touchdown performance.
“As good as both players are individually, together, Dri and Trayion make it really hard for the defense to focus on one guy,” Hazell said.
Kent State will take a break from league play Saturday when it travels to Army for a noon game against the Cadets.
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://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.