KENT, OH – The Kent State Golden Flashes scored on two big first down plays and took advantage of Miami miscues to post a 20-14 win Saturday in the Mid-American Conference opener for both teams. KSU raised its record to 2-3 (1-0 MAC) with the homecoming victory, while Miami fell to 1-4, 0-1 MAC)
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Two big plays, both coming on first downs following Miami punts, accounted for Kent State touchdowns.
The Flashes were up 6-0 on two Shane Hynes field first quarter field goals when Antwan Dixon took an end-around run down the left sideline for a 75-yard touchdown with 9:03 remaining in the second period. “"I saw nobody in front of me except for big Reno (Reda)" after turning the corner,” Dixon said.
“They got us on a reverse, which is a shame because they got Marshall on that last week. We repped the heck out of it (at practice this week). We didn’t execute, they did,” Miami head coach Chuck Martin said. “There’s no reason our backside guy shouldn’t be in a position to (stop) that play.”
Kent State’s other big offensive play came midway through the third quarter, when the Flashes quickly turned potential misfortune into quick fortune. Ernest Calhoun fumbled a Miami punt, but the ball bounced forward and was recovered by teammate Marcus Elliot at the RedHawks 44-yard line.
Quarterback Colin Reardon found Ernest Calhoun slating to the middle on the next play, and Calhoun darted through the defense to Kent State its final touchdown and a 20-0 lead after the PAT.
“Those two big plays, obviously, killed us,” Martin said, adding that both were anticipated. “We prepared and didn’t get it done. … We’ve got to continue to get better on that side of the ball.”
Miami started to move the ball better in the second half after being limited to 85 total yards (57 by QB Gus Ragland) of offense before intermission. However, the RedHawks could not reach the end zone until 5:36 remaining in the contest.
Facing third and 20, senior quarterback Drew Kummer completed a 16-yard pass to running back Alonzo Smith and followed with a seven-yard strike to receiver Ryan Smith. Another Kummer completion, this one to Sam Martin at the one-yard line Alonzo Smith’s run off left tackle for MU’s first points. Kaleb Patterson added the PAT.
Kent State committed its only turnover of the day on its next possession when Miami recovered a fumble by Reardon, whose arm was bumped by a teammate in the backfield.
Kummer immediately hit Fred McRae IV for 37 yards. After two incompletions, he found Ryan Smith for 14 yards for a first down at the KSU 14. Five plays later, Kummer hit tight end Nate Becker for a two-yard score that brought MU within 20-14 with PAT.
There was still 3:15 left on the clock and the RedHawks owned a couple of time outs. Kent State stuck with three runs, draining MU of its time outs, but was forced to punt with fourth-and-five.
Miami took over at its own 27 with 2:12 remaining. It was nine plays into a final drive when, facing third-and-10, Kummer was intercepted deep over the middle by freshman Juantez McRae. "Once I saw him throw the ball, I thought anything can happen," McRae said. “ "I saw our defensive line put pressure on the quarterback, and he just threw it up. I went for it. I just had to get it."
Two kneel-downs completed the KSU homecoming win.
“"It was a good job by our guys to keep fighting and a good job of finishing the game at the end," said KSU head coach Paul Haynes, whose team improved to 2-3 overall and 1-0 in MAC play. "We have to get more of an instinct to close it out early…but Miami did a good job of fighting. We are making progress. We did a lot of things better than we did last week.”
After its first half offensive struggles, Miami finished with a 416-350 advantage in total offense and registered 24 first downs to 13 for the Flashes. Both teams struggled on third down. The RedHawks converted 6 of 20, while KSU moved the chains on 2 of 14.
“We created . . . opportunities down the field,” Martin said. But “too many times we got guys open and we’re not either seeing them, not protecting or not getting the ball to them. (Sometimes when we did), then we don’t catch it.”
Reardon completed 12 of 21 passes for 136 yards and one Kent State touchdown. Callhoun provided 44 of those yards on his touchdown. Antwan Dixon, who was the only KSU receiver with more than one catch, hauled in six passes for 63 yards.
The Kent State run game provided 214 yards, including 75 by Dixon (on the end around), and 49 apiece by Raekwon James (with a long of 50) and Trayion Durham (on 18 carries).
Miami’s Kummer completed 19 of 48 for 315 yards with one TD and four interceptions. Ragland hit on two of three attempts totaling 10 yards.
Four RedHawk receivers had at least three receptions: Rokeem Williams (5/73 yards), Ryan Smith (5/70 yards), Sam Martin (3/61 yards and Chris Hudson (3/43 yards).
The RedHawks gained 91 yards on the ground, with Ragland providing 67 on 14 attempts.
Miami, which is riding a 20-game road losing streak, plays its third straight road game next week when it meets rival Ohio in Athens.
Kent State also hits the road as it will meet undefeated Toledo.