Kent State's losing skid hit three games on Saturday after Bowling Green pulled a fast one on the Golden Flashes in a 31-20 victory in front of 10,248 at Dix Stadium. The Falcons entered the contest with the Mid-American Conference's top-rated pass offense but instead relied on the slashing running of freshman Willie Geter to win the game.
Geter, a 5-foot-8, 170-pounder, rushed 22 times for a career-high 203 yards and one touchdown.
"They did a nice job; they changed their offense drastically," said Kent State head coach Doug Martin. "That kind of caught us off-guard."
Kent State (3-5, 1-3 in the MAC) suffered its third-straight defeat, but more importantly the Golden Flashes lost quarterback Julian Edelman for the season when he suffered a broken arm in the fourth quarter. With backup Anthony Magazu already on the shelf with a high-ankle sprain, Martin was forced to use Darren Rogers, a wide receiver who spent time under center this spring, and Jon Brown, who saw his first action last week at Ohio State.
Edelman's injury raises the possibility of calling into action freshman Giorgio Morgan, who the Golden Flashes had hoped to red shirt.
"It's something I'm going to consider," Martin said.
Bowling Green won the toss and elected to receive to start the game. Geter sprinted 20 yards on first down and seven plays—and three carries—later, he scored from four yards out to give the Falcons an early 7-0 lead. The Falcons, who entered the game last in the league with 76.0 rushing yards per game, rushed 37 times for 197 yards.
"It was pretty evident in the first quarter that they changed what they had done," Martin said. "We didn't get very much empty (backfield formation) at all. It was a good wrinkle on their part, but by the same token we have to play better than that."
Kent State responded with a 12 play, 72 yard drive, but the Golden Flashes' struggles in the red zone continued and KSU settled for a 20-yard field goal by Nate Reed. The Golden Flashes converted just 3 of 5 red zone opportunities, often moving backwards instead of toward the goal line. Kent State has now scored on just 21 of 31 red zone opportunities.
The Golden Flashes were in position to take the lead early in the second quarter when they drove to the Bowling Green 17. Eugene Jarvis, who carried 33 times for 168 yards, lost two yards on first down and on second down an eight-yard completion from Edelman to Jarvis was erased thanks to a holding penalty that moved KSU back to the 29. Again the Flashes settled for a field goal.
Of Kent State's 10 penalties, four of them occurred in the red zone—two holds, two false starts and an illegal motion.
Anthony Turner scored on a 4-yard run to increase Bowling Green's lead to 14-6. On the play, KSU linebacker Cedrick Maxwell was ejected for throwing a punch.
Edelman cut the lead to 14-13 with a three-yard run with 1:16 left in the half.
Kent State punted on its first drive of the third quarter and Bowling Green pushed its lead to 21-13 after scoring on a 31-yard pass from quarterback Tyler Sheehan to Turner, who was lined up under center. Sheehan went in motion, took a lateral from Turner and threw back to Turner on the opposite sideline, who cruised untouched into the end zone.
"You can't prepare any team for everything," said Martin about the Falcons' trickery—they also converted a fake field goal and attempted an onsides kick. "We knew that was going to be a double pass when the quarterback went in motion but our kids played the downfield double pass."
Kent State tried to climb back into the game with a 11 play, 54-yard drive but again unforced errors in the red zone hurt the Flashes.
The Golden Flashes took possession at their own 43 and five plays later they were inside the Bowling Green 20. A seven-yard scramble by Edelman gave the Flashes first and 10 at the 11, but a false start and a holding penalty moved them back to the 19. Two runs by Edelman set up KSU at the three where they went for it on fourth down. Freshman Andre Flowers was stuffed on his first carry of the game and Bowling Green took over.
"Penalties are still killing us in the red zone," Martin said. "It's really destroying our scoring offense. We should be scoring 30 points per game, but we can't get it done because of penalties."
Sheehan increased Bowling Green's lead to 28-13 when he hit Corey Partridge for a 24-yard touchdown with 10:14 remaining in the game. Edelman connected with freshman Rashad Tukes for a 40-yard completion that gave the Golden Flashes a first and 10 at the Falcons' 23. They moved to the four but managed just one yard on the next three plays.
Edelman and Tukes later connected on a 32-yard touchdown pass and catch and Bowling Green added a 49-yard field goal to close out the scoring.