Andy Harris

KENT: It was a sight no one had ever seen in the university’s storied history.

Several hundred students, faculty, staff members and fans gathered Thursday morning at the M.A.C. Center on the Kent State University campus to give the football team an enthusiastic send-off as the Flashes headed north to the Mid-American Conference championship game in Detroit.

Although the celebration was scheduled to start at 9 a.m., the event began a few minutes early and the next 30 minutes were a blur of cheers, waving of yellow KSU rally towels and words of appreciation from coach Darrell Hazell, players and administrators. Fans were also treated to a showing of the One Team, One Destiny video.

Fans carried homemade signs, the cheerleaders performed and members of the KSU band were on hand to play the fight song as the team exited the arena as a group clad in their gray, yellow and blue running suits.

Sophomore tight end Kyle Payton said the team was excited about the Mid-American Conference title game and about the chance to play in a bowl game.

But he said the team is trying to stay focused and take things “one game at a time.”

Hazell said the team has had support from fans all over the country. He said one Kent State graduate sent him a picture of a crown he had put on one of his teeth with a “K” on it.

After the rally, the players and coaches boarded four buses and received a police escort off campus and through downtown.

The community show of support continued through downtown as fans stood along the street to cheer the Flashes on their way out of town.

The team’s leading rusher, Dri Archer, tweeted out a picture from his bus of a group of young KSU fans standing beside the road with signs and pompoms waving to the players as they passed by.

The MAC championship game kicks off at 7. tonight at Ford Field in Detroit.

It will be the Flashes’ first appearance in the league’s title game, and it will be televised on ESPN2.