Following a one-hour and 43-minute lightning delay in the fourth quarter, Ole Miss put the game out of reach with its fourth touchdown of the half. The Golden Flashes were within four points (21-17) late in the third quarter and seven points (24-17) to start the fourth.
"I was really proud of the way our guys fought and handled everything on this trip," Head Coach Sean Lewis said of the lightning delays and travel trouble on Friday. "We need to do a better job preparing to maximize these opportunities in front of us."
After Ole Miss struck first, the Flashes caught the Rebel defense off-guard for their opening touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Woody Barrett sent a backwards pass to his left. Junior receiver Kavious Price quickly corralled it and found junior running back Jo-El Shaw in the middle of the end zone for an 18-yard score.
"It's a part of who we are and what we do," Lewis said of the touchdown. "It's not a gadget play for our offense. As many different ways as we can get guys to spread the wealth and be a part of our offense, we're going to find ways to do that."
Senior nose tackle Kalil Morris blocked an Ole Miss field goal attempt to keep the score tied 7-7 going into halftime.
The Flashes' offense moved the football throughout the first half, going 20 yards or more on six of their seven drives and taking the ball into Ole Miss territory five times.
After a 53-minute halftime and lighting delay, the Rebels wasted little time getting back on the board in the third quarter, needing just 1:35 for a 5-play, 76-yard drive. Scottie Phillips put Ole Miss ahead with a two-yard run.
Freshman Matthew Trickett cut the lead to 14-10 with a 32-yard field goal. The drive was highlighted by a 26-yard Justin Rankin run on fourth down. The Flashes went 3-for-4 on fourth down attempts for the game.
Ole Miss came right back with a 41-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Ta'amu to DK Metcalf, extending its lead 21-10.
Barrett responded with his third rushing touchdown of the season, capping off an 11-play, 53-yard drives. The offense was given great field position by a 42-yard kick return from Shaw.
Junior Jamal Parker halted the following Ole Miss drive with his second interception of the season and sixth of his career. However, a third down stop by the Ole Miss defense early in the fourth proved to be a difference-maker.
The Rebels took their 14-point lead of the game (31-17) with 9:55 to play on a four-yard touchdown scamper by Ta'amu.
"We've got to find a way to overcome and persevere," Lewis said of the second half against Power 5 opponents. "It comes down to execution, staying loose and attacking and knowing that the moment is not too big for us."
Junior Mike Carrigan made a 49-yard reception in the first half, the Flashes' longest pass play of the season. He led Kent State with 88 receiving yards on six catches. Barrett completed 24 passes for 224 yards.
The Flashes will open Mid-American Conference play Saturday, Sept. 29 at Ball State.
(Courtesy of KSU Athletics)