The Kent State Golden Flashes (started 1-2) traveled to Kentucky to take on the #19 Louisville Cardinals (started 2-1). Bobby Petrino’s Cardinals put on quite the show against the struggling Golden Flashes. Louisville came out big and blew out Kent State, without really running up the score. This game had tons of touchdowns: passing, running, interception, and even a squirrel made it in for a long score. Unfortunately, the Golden Flashes did not follow the squirrel into the end zone, failing to score a single touchdown.
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REPEAT: SQUIRREL TOUCHDOWN
Kent State had a very difficult time getting anything going offensively against the nationally-ranked Cardinal defense. Opting to try complicated run option schemes caused issues for the Golden Flashes, who only gained 139 rushing yards. Louisville’s quick secondary read and strung out the runs, stopping the Golden Flashes for minimal gains. George Bollas was found to be ineffective at running the option and was replaced with Dustin Crum, who led the team for 62 rushing yards.
Failing to run forced the Golden Flashes to pass more than they wanted. Paul Haynes showed predictable playcalling, passing on almost every third down and running on first and second downs. Louisville keyed in on the pattern, intercepting a George Bollas pass early on. Bollas earned only 11 yards passing before being replaced by Crum, who missed his only forward pass of the game. Kent State completed two of the five attempted passes.
Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy last year, and Kent State kept their eyes locked on him. Even though the Golden Flashes gave up a few long passes, Kent State kept Jackson from running for too many big gains. Lamar Jackson put up 299 yards in the air, going 18-for-22. Jon Cunningham and James Alexander led the Golden Flash defense that put such heavy pressure on Jackson. Demetrius Monday converted his tight coverage into two interceptions, giving him 11 on the year. Jackson would have had more stats to his name, but the second-string was put in early in the fourth quarter. Jawon Pass went five-for-eight and 75 yards. The Golden Flashes gave up 374 total passing yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Although the Golden Flashes showed some initial success stopping the Cardinal running backs, Louisville managed to push back and get some huge runs. Malik Williams led Louisville with 47 and two touchdowns. Jackson was held to 34 yards rushing and one touchdown. Overall, Kent State won the battle in the trenches, but Louisville’s speedy running backs found openings for big gains.
Kent State’s Derek Adams came out to punt eight times, nailing the ball inside the 20-yard line three times. Shane Hynes made a 48-yard field goal for Kent State, which is a new career high for the Junior. Louisville’s Mason King only tried to punt twice, but was hit during one kick, negating that statistic. Cardinal kicker Blanton Creque made all six of his extra points, but never had to try a field goal.
Louisville began the game with a nice 69-yard pass from Lamar Jackson to Jordan Davis, placing the Cardinals deep in the red zone. Malik Williams punched it in on fourth-and-goal for a three-yard touchdown. Louisville’s next possession also saw the Cardinals going for it on fourth down, but the Golden Flash defense held, causing a turnover on downs. Near the end of the first quarter, Louisville’s Malik Williams took off for a 38-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing Kent State possession, George Bollas’ pass bounced into the hands of Trumaine Washington, who returned it 37 yards for a Cardinal score.
An interception by Demetrius Monday set up the Flashes in prime field position, but Louisville’s Dorian Etheridge recovered a Dustin Crum fumble on the following drive. On the very next play, Kent State’s Elvis Hines stripped the ball out of Lamar Jackson’s hands, recovering the fumble himself. Once the dust settled from all the turnovers, Kent State’s Shane Hynes kicked a 48-yard field goal, making the score 21-3 in favor of Louisville. Lamar Jackson responded with a quarterback draw for a 13-yard touchdown.
In the third quarter, a costly roughing-the-kicker penalty haunted the Golden Flashes. Louisville used the renewed drive to score on a 32-yard pass from Lamar Jackson to Seth Dawkins. A second Demetrius interception gave life back to the Golden Flashes. Unfortunately, freshman Dustin Crum fumbled the ball after a long 30-yard run. Louisville converted the turnover into points with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Lamar Jackson to Javonte Bagley, extending the lead to 42-3. Louisville’s Joshua Johnson almost scored on a long reception, but fumbled. Jerrell Foster fell on the ball in the end zone for a Kent State touchback. Kent State was unable to convert that turnover into points though. Both teams ran out the clock in the fourth quarter without scoring.
Kent State was penalized five times for 45 yards, which really killed any momentum the Golden Flashes would have had. The Golden Flashes gave up three turnovers to Louisville’s four.
Kent State (1-3) returns home on Saturday, Sep 30 when they host the Buffalo Bulls (1-2). This will be each team’s first Mid-American Conference game.