KENT, OHIO – The Western Michigan Broncos improved to 10-0 on the season as they used a 16-point fourth quarter surge to defeat a game bunch of Kent State Golden Flashes, 31-20, Tuesday night at Dix Stadium.
The win was an historic one for Western Michigan as the 2016 squad became the first team in school history to win 10 games in a season. WMU picked up its first win in Kent since 2000 while improving to 6-0 in Mid-American Conference play to remain alone atop the West Division.
“We knew this would . . .
“It was a tough hard-nose football game” KSU head man Paul Haynes said. “Give Western credit. Our guys fought like crazy for as long as we could fight. As we watch the film, I’m sure (we’ll see) a lot of good individual efforts, and we just came up short. (I am) proud of the way these guys fought. Nobody would ever expect us to play Western that good for three and a half quarters, and we just kind of wore down at the end. But I’m proud of these guys and proud of their preparation.”
For a majority of the evening, the game was played in a steady rain. Those conditions helped the home team early.
On WMU’s first offensive play when junior RB Jarvion Franklin fumbled on a pitch from senior QB Zach Terrell. The ball was recovered by senior DB Najee Murray who ran it back 47-yards for a touchdown and a surprising 7-0 lead.
The Flashes doubled their advantage midway through the opening stanza as junior QB Nick Holley engineered a 10-play, 60-yard drive, which he capped with a three yard touchdown run up the middle.
Holley would end the evening with 141 yards rushing and a score on 22 carries. It was his 10th touchdown over the last five games since he became the starting QB (due to a spate of QB injuries) on October 1st against Akron.
Down 14-0, the Broncos offense finally found some traction. On a wet evening, it would be the strength of their running game that would carry them.
On the drive following touchdown, the
Western responded to the second Akron touchdown with its first points of the night. Using Franklin runs and a couple of key completions by Terrell, the Broncos moved from their own 25 to the KSU three where the drive stalled. PK Butch Hampton’s 27-yard field goal made the score 14-3.
After a Kent State punt, the Broncos scored their first touchdown to finish a 13-play 83-yard drive. Devon Tucker blasted up the middle for a two-yard touchdown to make the score 14-10.
While the WMU offense was starting to take charge, the defense also came up with the big play.
Late in the period, junior LB Caleb Bailey intercepted a Nick Holley pass and returned it to the KSU 33. Bailey was waiting for the ball to come down as the pass from Holley came out of his hands awkwardly and went almost straight up into the air.
With time running out in the first half, the Broncos reached the Flashes two-yard line. However, with no time outs remaining, they decided to go for a touchdown.