Columbus- Kent State's plan to shorten the game against No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday lasted until the second play of the second quarter when sophomore wide receiver Brian Hartline set a new school record with a 90-yard punt return that gave the Buckeyes a 14-0 lead with 14:33 remaining in the second quarter. The Buckeyes used several other Kent State miscues to easily dispose of the Golden Flashes, 48-3, in front of 105, 051 at Ohio Stadium.
Sophomore running back Eugene Jarvis became just the second running back this season to rush for over 50 yards against the Buckeyes—he carried 16 times for 84 yards—but four sudden change plays in the second quarter settled the contest before halftime. The Buckeyes scored on special teams, returned an interception for a score, turned a 15-yard punt into another touchdown and scored after recovering a fumble at the Kent State 36-yard line.
"I thought we played hard, we got overwhelmed at times and we made a couple of crucial mistakes that we couldn't make if we were going to keep this game close--starting with the punt return and the interception for a touchdown," said Kent State head coach Doug Martin.
The good news for Kent State was in the running game where the Golden Flashes rushed for 161 yards on 48 carries. The Buckeyes entered the game allowing just 46.5 rushing yards per game. Jarvis had 51 yards on six carries in the first quarter.
"We ran the ball pretty effectively, probably better than most people have, and that was our plan coming in," Martin said. "Hopefully shorten the game, run the clock down and maybe stay in it. It didn't work out that way with the big plays that they made."
Ohio State (7-0, 3-0 in the Big Ten) took a 7-0 lead on their opening possession when they drove 69 yards in eight plays. Quarterback Todd Boeckman ended the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Hartline, who finished the game with a game-high 149 total yards.
Hartline's punt return pushed the Buckeyes' lead to 14-0 and sophomore running back Chris Wells scored from seven yards out to increase the lead to 21-0 with 9:49 remaining in the first quarter.
The Golden Flashes (3-4, 1-2 in the Mid-American Conference) drove to the Ohio State 42-yard line with just under three minutes to play in the half but sophomore defensive back Donald Washington picked off a Julian Edelman pass and raced 70 yards down the sideline for another Buckeyes' touchdown.
Jarvis fumbled on the Golden Flashes' next possession and Ohio State moved 36 yards in three plays, in a drive that covered just 42 seconds, capped by a 15-yard Boeckman to Maurice Wells touchdown pass.
While the Golden Flashes were successful against the Ohio State rushing attack—the Buckeyes' carried 36 times for a season-low 138 yards—it was the special teams and passing game that created problems.
Boeckman completed 13 of 16 passes for 184 yards and two scores before giving way to sophomore Rob Schoenhoft in the second half. Schoenhoft completed 7 of 9 throws for 79 yards.
"Our goal was to win this football game," Martin said. "What gives you the best chance to win the game, and this is how we presented it to our players, that was that we had to play great defense; we had to absolutely sell out and stop the run, which we did a pretty good job of. No. 2 was, we couldn't give up anything cheap in the kicking game and No. 3 was we had to find a way to run the ball and control the clock and hopefully keep it close because nobody is going to come in here and score 30 points on Ohio State."
Kent State avoided the shutout when sophomore kicker Nate Reed booted a 34-yard field goal with just 2:36 remaining in the game. A 13-yard punt by Jon Thoma set up the Golden Flashes at the Ohio State 31-yard line.
With back-to-back losses, something the Golden Flashes set out to avoid this season, next week's game against Bowling Green becomes even more important.
"We have to come back and do it this week—we lost," said junior defensive lineman Colin Ferrell about avoiding another back-to-back loss. "We came in, we wanted to win, but they're the No. 3 team in the nation; they're pretty good. We've just got to man up next week and come out and find a way to win next week."