KENT, Ohio-Kent State opened the 2009 season on Thursday night with an 18-0 victory over Coastal Carolina in front of 16,481 at Dix Stadium. In the process, the Golden Flashes notched their first shutout since beating Ohio, 24-0, in 1994-a span of 163 games.
"That was huge for our defense to go out and reestablish themselves like that," said Kent State head coach Doug Martin.
On defense, the Golden Flashes were dominant. They limited Coastal Carolina to just 185 yards of total offense on 66 plays and recorded a pair of safeties. But, it was special teams that sparked the victory.
Fifth-year senior running back Eugene Jarvis, who claimed his 17th career 100-yard rushing performance with 141 yards on 27 carries, returned a total of five punts for 77 yards. His 33- and 27-yard efforts set up both Kent State touchdowns.
"Special teams has been an Achilles heel for us for a couple years and tonight we won a game with special teams," Martin said. "We've got some kick returners, both kickoff return and punt return, where we can change a game in a hurry."
After trading punts to open the game, the Golden Flashes moved to the Coastal Carolina 26-yard line on their second possession of the game. That drive ended when Marcus Lott picked off a Giorgio Morgan pass at the 1.
The Golden Flashes turned a negative into a positive on the next play when junior linebacker Cobrani Mixon met running back Tommy Fraser behind the line of scrimmage and senior defensive end Kevin Hogan finished of the Chanticleers' ball carrier in the end zone for a KSU safety.
"They (isolated) me earlier in the game in a similar situation and (the lineman) cut me," Mixon said. "I figured he was going to try and cut me again and I just tried to stay on my feet and I ended up making a play."
The Flashes attempted to add to that lead with 16 seconds left in the first half, but Josh Norman blocked Freddy Cortez' 22-yard field goal attempt. Dominique Davenport returned the loose ball to the Kent State 26, where Justin Durham missed a 43-yard field goal attempt as time expired.
"Our kicker wasn't ready to kick," said Coastal Carolina head coach Dave Bennett. "He's over there going crazy with everybody else."
After forcing a three-and-out on the Chanticleers' first possession of the second half, Jarvis returned Ben Erdman's punt to the Coastal Carolina 5. Junior running back Andre Flowers scored two plays later to push Kent State's lead to 9-0.
Jarvis' 27-yard return set the Flashes up at the Coastal Carolina 31. Morgan, who completed 21-of-35 passes for 201 yards-hit junior tight end Jon Simpson for a 24-yard pickup on first down and Jarvis carried twice for seven yards, the last a 4-yard touchdown run, to give Kent State a 16-0 lead with 11:57 left to play.
An errant snap on a Coastal Carolina fourth quarter punt attempt sailed out of the Chanticleers' end zone resulting in the second safety of the game for the Golden Flashes.