Kent State holds a winning record over just three Mid-American Conference foes, but no conference opponent dominates the Golden Flashes like Miami, a 20-13 winner at Dix Stadium on Saturday.
The Golden Flashes (3-3 overall, 1-2 in the MAC) seem to play their worst when lined up against the RedHawks. If Miami's 44-11 all-time record over Kent State isn't enough to prove that point, Saturday's error-prone game should do the trick.
In the game, Kent State turned the ball over three times, committed 10 penalties for 109 yards and again had difficulty executing the shotgun snap—and that's just the offense. Defensively, the Golden Flashes allowed a Miami team playing without three of its top running backs to rush for over 100 yards, allowed big plays in the passing game and gave up over 400 yards of offense for just the second time this season.
"It's really frustrating when you're playing as well as we're playing," said Kent State head coach Doug Martin about his team's self-inflicted wounds. "It's really frustrating because we feel if we don't make mistakes we can put up a lot of points on anyone we play."
Kent State started the game with an impressive 10 play, 80-yard drive capped by a Eugene Jarvis three-yard touchdown run. On the drive, quarterback Julian Edelman completed 4 of 5 passes for 60 yards and Jarvis carried four times for 20 yards.
It went downhill from there.
The defense was on the verge of forcing a quick three-and-out on Miami's first possession, but defensive end Darrius Carter was flagged for a face mask after stopping Miami quarterback Mike Kokal short of the first down marker on third down. Kokal later converted a third and eight with a 23-yard completion to Sean McVay and then hit another big gain to tight end Jake O'Connell, who found an opening between Kent State's freshmen safeties Brian Lainhart and Dan Hartman. Austin Sykes scored on a one-yard run to tie the score, 7-7, with 7:26 remaining in the first quarter.
After trading punts, Kent State committed the first turnover of the game when Edelman was picked off by Robbie Wilson at the Miami 33-yard line. Edelman threw two picks in the game—the second was in the Miami end zone.
"One of the interceptions the ball just slipped," Edelman said. "The other one, it was just a bad decision. I have enough snaps under my belt; that shouldn't happen."
That turnover led to a Nathan Parseghian 35-yard field goal. Kent State matched that field goal with a 28-yard boot by Nate Reed and then the Golden Flashes positioned themselves to take the lead.
Colin Ferrell knocked the ball out of Kokal's hand and Lainhart recovered for Kent State at the Miami 28-yard line. The Golden Flashes were called for holding on first down and on second down Edelman was picked off in the end zone.
"Last week we did a great job with no turnovers," Martin said. "I hoped we were over that hump."
Miami took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 71 yards in seven plays. Backup quarterback Daniel Raudabaugh again exploited Kent State's secondary when he threw a 11-yard strike to O'Connell in the end zone. Parseghian's extra point gave Miami a 17-10 advantage.
"With a tie game and us getting the ball to start the second half, we needed to go down there and get a touchdown," Raudabaugh said. "That score really helps your team."
Despite several mistakes, Kent State put together a 15-play drive that covered 64 yards but couldn't punch the ball into the end zone. Instead, they settled for a 32-yard field goal. On the drive, Edelman recovered a botched snap, broke a tackle in the backfield and found Derek McBryde for a 32-yard gain. On the next play, the Golden Flashes were called for an illegal block and lost 15 yards back to the Miami 28 and Edelman was sacked on the next snap. A Miami personal foul gave Kent State a first down at the Miami 17-yard line. Edelman ran for eight yards on first down, but a false start moved the ball back to the 14. Edelman then found freshman Rashad Tukes in the corner of the end zone for an apparent touchdown. After an official review, the play was overturned and Miami held on third down to force the field goal.
Parseghian added a 27-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to increase Miami's lead to 20-13 with 5:27 left to play. Kent State still had an opportunity to tie the score, but again they couldn't overcome their errors.
McBryde returned the kickoff to the Kent State 31 and the Golden Flashes benefited from another Miami personal foul. A botched snap on first down led to a rare highlight as Edelman scooped up the snap and ran for 36 yards to the Miami 17-yard line. He carried for one yard on the next play, but made a crucial mistake when he took a sack at the 23 on second down.
Edelman converted a third and 16 with a completion to Jarvis up the middle to set up a first and goal from the seven. The Flashes were called for holding on first down and on the next play Edelman was flagged for intentional grounding. He took another sack on third down and on fourth and goal from the 18 he scrambled for the end zone but was knocked out of bounds at the one.
"They dropped everyone and rushed three," Edelman said. "I probably should have thrown it up and let one of my guys try to do something."
With one conference loss already under their belts, the Golden Flashes faced an uphill battle if they were to achieve their goal of winning the MAC East. Now, with two losses, it's almost an impossible task.
"Every game is a one-game season for us now," Martin said. "We've got to at some point get over this win-loss-win-loss deal."
Game Notes:Sophomore running back Eugene Jarvis had his school record-tying streak of five consecutive 100-yard rushing games come to an endJulian Edelman had a career-high tying 19 completions for 260 yardsSophomore wide receiver Derek McBryde set career-highs for receptions (7) and yards (124)—both were also team season bestsKent State is now 11-44 against Miami and 6-21 in Kent (0-4 in Homecoming affairs)The Golden Flashes are 21-40 in Homecoming contestsKSU has not trailed at the half this season (leading three, tied three)All three losses have come with the score tied at the halfThe Flashes have topped the 200-yard mark in rushing in all six games this seasonKent State has not defeated Miami two times in a row sicne the 1987-1988 seasonsKSU has been outscored 63-26 in the fourth quarter this season; they have scored just one offensive touchdown