KENT, OHIO – Freshman Kesean Gamble’s second touchdown of the game, a three-yard scamper with 5:56 remaining, gave the Kent State Golden Flashes a 38-31 victory over the Howard University Bison in a back-and-forth affair Saturday afternoon before 20,312 at Dix Stadium.
The victory ended a five-game . . .
"That's the sign of our head coach and how he has prepared us for these kinds of moments," said interim head coach Don Treadwell. "In our conference in particular … it often comes down to the last minute -- and sometimes even the last play."
On Saturday, Treadwell was in his second game as interim head coach for Haynes who took a medical leave of absence at the end of fall camp.
Senior QB Nick Holley rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown, adding 109 yards through the air on 8-of-16 passing and two more scores. It was part of a ground attack that amassed 294 yards on a sunny and cool afternoon
Howard (1-1) was led by freshman QB Caylin Newton, who completed 9-of-22 passes for 225 yards. Senior HB Anthony Philyaw had 20 carries for 167 yards and a 75-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.
KSU dominated the first quarter, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions -- both in Bison territory. The first came on the feet of Holley as he took off on a quarterback draw and wound through the HU defense for a 38-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
The second possession was also 38 yards. This one took five plays as Holley found sophomore RB Justin Rankin coming out of the backfield all alone for a 25-yard score, doubling the lead to 14-0.
After the score, Newton, the younger brother of former Auburn star and current Carolina Panther Cam Newton, put the Howard offense into high gear.
Newton hit sophomore WR Jequez Ezzard, who was wide open over the middle, for 75 yards down to the KSU two. After a penalty set the Bisons back, Newton threw a touch pass that was collected by sophomore WR Kyle Anthony in the right side of the end zone to make it 14-7.
Both Ezzard and Anthony would finish with over 100 yards receiving.
Early in the second quarter, the Flashes got the touchdown back as they went 52 yards in eight plays. Holley connected on his second touchdown pass of the game to a running back. This was a 26-yard aerial to sophomore RB Raekwon James, who came came over the middle and went into the end zone to make it 21-7.
The home team had a chance to extend its lead going into halftime. The Zips moved the ball from their own 17 to the Howard seven. However, the HU special teams came up with a big play as they blocked Shane Hynes’ 26-yard field goal attempt.
From there, it took the Bison just two plays to score on a 75-yard breakaway run by senior RB Anthony Philyaw to made the score 21-14 at halftime.
Philyaw, the pre-season MEAC Offensive player of the Year, had 167 yards on 20 carries.
In the third quarter, the Bison started to dominate. On their first second half possession, they moved from their own 48 to the Flashes' six before the drive stalled. Dakota Lebofsky hit on a 23-yard field goal to narrow the deficit to 21-17.
Kent State added a safety when the snap on a punt was fumbled and was downed iun the end zone.
The Bison grabbed their first lead of the game late in the period as they took advantage of a fumbled kent State punt. Starting at their own 40., they moved the ball down to the Flashes one. Newton capped off the drive with a touchdown around the right side and a 24-23 lead.
KSU eventually started a fourth quarter drive that would give it the lead for good. Holley engineered an 11-play, 58-yard drive, capped by Gamble scoring his first touchdown as a collegian from one yard out.
Gamble, played both offense and defense in the Flashes season opening loss at defending National Champion Clemson a week ago, had just 10 yards on the ground but scored two touchdowns.
The KSU defense came up with its biggest play of the game as on the next possession when sophomore DE Nick Faulkner forced Newton to fumble. Fellow DE Theo Ebobige recovered at Bison 34.
From there, Gamble scored his second touchdown, this one from three-yards out to make the score 38-24.
The Bison, who came from behind to defeat UNLV the previous Saturday, still had a lot of fight left in them. It came in the form of a nine-play, 79-yard drive, with Newton scoring from four yards out to close the margin back to seven 38-31.
With 3:08 remaining, the Bison decided to kick away and hope their defense would get the ball back. The Flashes moved the ball from their own 18 to the HU 47 before a perfect punt by Derek Adams pinned the Bison back on their own eight Time ran out and the victory belonged to the Blue and Gold.
The visitors from the MEAC outgained KSU 452-399.
Kent State will take its 1-1 record on the road for the next two games, starting next Saturday evening when they face the Marshall Thundering Herd at Edwards Stadium in Huntington.