There was a funeral in Athens, Ohio Tuesday night. With the Ohio Bobcats (6-5, 3-4) wearing all black, they had a front row seat to the burial of their season as the Kent State Golden Flashes (4-8, 3-5) beat them 44-13, handing them their third-straight blowout loss and all but ensuring that Ohio will not be bowling this season.
It wasn't all sadness though. For Kent State the end of an era warranted celebration, not tears.
With 1:46 left on the clock Kent State lined up at the Ohio 29-yard line. In the final game of the Golden Flashes rocky 2012 season head coach Paul Haynes opted to let his star senior Dri Archer, who was on his last drive of his college career, carry the ball one more time. The 5-foot-8 175-pound running back took the handoff and immediately exploded between the guard and tackle burning everyone on his way to the endzone where he was dog-piled by his teammates. Archer finished the last game of his career with 193 yards on 20 tocuhes. It was a fitting end to a career that exploded into an All-American season just a year ago.
Kent State didn't have much standing in the way of its quest to finish its season with a win. Ohio looked sloppy all night long. The team had some momentum early on, but only managed to get a pair of field goals out of it. Then with the second quarter starting Archer started to get involved. He scored his first of three rushing touchdowns on the day on a 24-yard sprint early in the second quarter to give Kent State the lead for the first time in the game.
Trailing by four, Ohio senior quarterback Tyler Tettleton drove the 'Cats down the field on a 9-play 50-yard drive culminating in a touchdown pass to Mario Dovell in the corner of the endzone to give Ohio the 13-10 lead. It wouldn't last.
Kent State's offense, which had struggled to build any momentum this season took over thanks to the play of redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Reardon. With 31 seconds left in the half Reardon connected with tight end Casey Pierce on an 11-yard touchdown pass. Reardon finished the game with 213 yards and a touchdown, slicing and dicing the Ohio secondary and opening things up for Archer underneath. Such as the senior's second rushing touchdown of the game early in the second half, in which he embarrassed Ohio cornerback Travis Carrie who failed to contain Archer and let him scamper on in.
That's when things got really ugly. A visibly frustrated Tettleton made head-scratching plays left and right, like taking several "self-sacks" (he sat down to avoid being hit) and overthrowing receivers like it was going out of style. By the end of the game, before he was yanked for backup Derrius Vick, he looked like a man dejected. He finished the game with 132 yards, a touchdown and a pick on 11 of 24 passing for his third consecutive awful game.
It wasn't all him though. The whole Bobcats' squad should a lack of intestinal fortitude, getting manhandled and abused throughout the evening. The defense allowed 537 total yards, with 332 of those coming in the second half. Things hit an all-time low in the third quarter when Kent State faked a punt snapping it to 6-foot-4, 265-pound nose tackle Nate Turhun who hurdled over Ohio's Daz' Patterson, and sprinted up the left sideline 61-yards for the score putting the Golden Flashes up 31-13 in the third quarter.
Oh, and as if getting beat on the field of play wasn't bad enough, Ohio did everything it could to aid Kent State in the beating. The 'Cats were called for 8 penalties, accumulating 99 yards on the night. This included several horse collar tackles in the second half that kept drives alive for their opponents, and a pass interference penalty that overturned an Ohio interception in the endzone.
The 'Cats get one last shot at ending this slide as the team welcomes UMass (1-9, 1-5) into Peden Stadium before what will likely be a nonexistent crowd. For the Golden Flashes a rough first year under Paul Haynes ended on a two-game winning streak even though stars such as Archer and Roosevelt Nix will be playing on Sundays come next season, there's plenty of things for fans to be excited about for next season, most notably Reardon who still has three years of eligibility left.