The Flashes and Nittany Lions were . . .
A field goal late in the first half allowed Penn State to take a 16-13 lead into the break.
The Nittany Lions added to their advantage with a 13-point third quarter, but couldn't put the game out of reach until a 30-yard touchdown pass from Mike Gesicki to Trace McSorley with 1:53 to play in the fourth.
“I was proud of how hard our guys played and our attitude on the sideline,” KSU head coach Paul Hayes said. “We had opportunities to finish the game and win the game. We moved the ball and had opportunities in the redzone that we didn't finish. That could have changed the game. There are a lot of good things to build off of and a lot things to improve on.
Kent State took the game's first lead on a 26-yard field goal by Shane Hynes with 5:25 to play in the first quarter. Freshman quarterback Justin Agler's scramble for 16 yards to the Penn State 19 was the highlight of the 11-play, 64-yard drive that set up the opening score.
Both of the Flashes' first-year quarterbacks showed promise as Agner completed 8-of-15 passes for 65 yards and Mylik Mitchell connected on 6-of-12 for 65 yards. Fellow newcomer Justin Rankin led KSU's stable of running backs with an impressive 82 yards on 13 carries.
The Flashes out-gained Penn State 162-161 in the first half thanks to 112 yards on 22 carries. KSU won the ground battle 150-145, despite losing 54 yards on seven Penn State sacks.
Another true-freshman playmaker, Kavious Price, added to the Flashes' running total with a 28-yard reverse in the second quarter to set the stage for Hynes' 43-yard field goal.
Overall, Penn State out-gained the Flashes on the day, 354-279, closing out the win in the second half with a 30-yard interception return by Amani Oruwariye in the opening minutes of the third quarter, a 28-yard Tyler Davis field goal, and the long touchdown pass from Gesicki to McSorley in the closing minutes.
Along with the fumble return by Refuge and the sack by Waugh, Kent State's defensive effort was led by Nate Holley, who finished with 18 tackles. The Flashes spoiled two Penn State trips into the red zone, forcing the Lions to settle for a field goal and then dropped Gesicki for a loss on a fourth-down run.
Kent State hosts North Carolina A&T State at Dix Stadium Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m.
(Courtesy of Kent State Athletics)