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Kent State shocked by North Carolina A&T, lose 39-36 in 4OT

Tarik Cohen paced the NC A&T Aggies’ upset bid, while Brice Fackler and Juantez McRae are bright spots for Kent.

NCAA Football: Celebration Bowl-Alcorn State vs North Carolina A&T Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

A two-hour lightning delay dampened not only the atmosphere around Dix stadium for the home opener for the Kent State Golden Flashes, but it dampened the play on the field as well.

Over the course of the first quarter, the two teams combined to gain just 41 yards of offense as both offensive lines were overwhelmed by talented defenses. A combination of an unwillingness to throw the ball down field and receivers’ inability to get open found both defense units stacking the box and frequently blitzing without fear of being beaten over the top. Justin Agner, the starting quarterback from a week ago was out with injury, meaning Mylik Mitchell was on the hook for the entire game.

The game found eventually found a spark of life when the Kent State defense forced a fumble and Juantez McRae swooped in to punch the ball loose from NC A&T’s all-conference running back Tarik Cohen. Kent State was only able to score three points off the turnover despite starting the drive on the Aggie’s 10-yard line.

The half would continue on as a struggle for both sides, with Kent unable to execute on offense and NC A&T quarterback Lamar Raynard facing constant pressure from the defense.

Midway through the half, Kent State finally put together a drive offensively through some trick plays and downfield throws to tight end Brice Fackler. Fackler made back-to-back 20-plus yard catches: the first on a trick play and the second down the seam for a touchdown to put Kent State up 10-0.

Both teams would then trade turnovers before the end of the half.

The second half would begin with a convincing drive by North Carolina A&T, capped off by a six-yard touchdown pass set up by a 54-yard run by Cohen on a broken play. NC A&T retained momentum and tacked on another field goal to tie the game at 10-10.

After another unsuccessful Kent State drive, the defense once again came up huge forcing a fumble recovering it on the North Carolina A&T 8 yard line, turning that into a Fackler touchdown to regain the lead at 17-10.

The Golden Flashes had an opportunity to put the game away after starting a drive on the North Carolina A&T 43 yard line, but could not move the ball effectively. The ensuing A&T drive was a herky-jerky affair that saw multiple penalties and a Kent State defense that couldn’t get off the field.

Cohen eventually capped off the 9-play, 83-yard drive with a touchdown plunge to tie the game once again at 17-17 with 5:50 in the game, which is where the score stayed in regulation.

The overtime sessions saw matador-esque defenses and it showed, as NC A&T had 22 points in the OT period to Kent’s 19.

After 3 OT periods of stagnation, Justin Rankin finally got the Kent State ground game working and Mylik Mitchell nailed several clutch passes, including a touchdown pass to Johnny Woods.

The fourth OT would bring controversy, as NC A&T third-string QB Oluwafemi Bamiro threw a touchdown pass to Denzel Keys in the end zone to seal the game after a controversial pass intereference call that went against Kent State.

NC A&T were statistically the better team, out-gaining Kent State 407-275 in total yards. NC A&T’s Cohen put on a clinic, amassing 204 yards and a touchdown on his own.

Kent State (0-2) looks to reverse their fortunes with another FCS game, this time against Monmouth at 3:30 p.m. EST on Saturday afternoon.