It was not the prettiest of games. In fact, it was a rather sloppy one, with 15 penalties called in the first half between both sides and 22 overall flags and 171 penalty yards assessed.
But with 18 seconds left in the game on a BGSU drive which looked like it could end up in a scoring chance, Kent State linebacker Ke’Sean Gamble intercepted a Jarrett Doege pass to seal a 35-28 victory for the Golden Flashes (2-7, 1-4 MAC) over rival Bowling Green (1-7, 0-5 MAC) to take home the Anniversary Award.
364 days prior to Tuesday night, the Flashes suffered a humiliating defeat in a season chock full of them in a 44-16 home loss to Bowling Green which all but nailed the coffin for Paul Haynes as a head coach. Tuesday’s win, which was new head coach Sean Lewis’ first win both over an FBS opponent and in MAC play this season, was decidedly more competitive.
The Flashes were on top of things from the start, scoring first at the 8:44 mark in the first quarter and trailing for only about one-and-a-half minutes in the second quarter, en route to a one-possession victory on the road, a prospect which would be unheard of last season.
KSU’s Jo-El Shaw, a six-foot-one, 231 lb. redshirt freshman running back who was playing in place of the injured starting RB Justin Rankin, was the most valuable player of the game, scoring three total touchdowns (two rushing and one receiving) and 146 total yards, including 128 on the ground. He opened up the scoring in both halves, with a 28-yard reception in the first quarter and a seven-yard run to start the third quarter, and scored the eventual game-winner with 1:50 to go in the game with an 18-yard rumble.
Woody Barrett finished 14/24 for 157 passing yards and three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) for the Flashes, with Antwan Dixon (six receptions, 73 yards, one touchdown) leading the way in the receiving department.
It was a defensive clinic for Kent State, with Dalton Hicks (14 total tackles) and Theo Majette (four tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss) pacing the Flashes. The team also forced two fumbles on the game, collected three QB pressures and seven passes defended.
The Falcons weren’t as lucky.
Jarrett Doege had a decent day at QB, going 20/37 for 207 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. It was a struggle on the day as Kent State stifled the BGSU offense for most of the day, allowing only 317 total yards. The running game was especially affected, as Andrew Clair (leg injury) was unable to play, leaving a running back by committee to run for 81 yards on 29 carries between Rico Frye, Bryson Denley and Ra’Veon Hargrove.
Scott Miller led the Falcons with 75 receiving yards on six catches, while converted linebacker-turned-tight-end Dorian Hendrix, true freshman Noah Massey and the previously mentioned Hargrove all notched one receiving touchdown.
Marcus Milton had a 87-yard punt return touchdown called back due to an offensive block in the back penalty, but still had five total tackles with a tackle for loss to help the Falcons defense. Brandon Harris led the Falcons with 15 total tackles and half a tackle for loss, while Demontae Haigler (two sacks, two tackles for loss), Roland Walder (one sack, two and a half tackles for loss) and Karl Brooks (one sack, one tackile for loss) placed pressure on the quarterback.
Kent State looks to continue their winning ways against MAC East leader Buffalo (8-1, 5-0 MAC) on the road next Tuesday, while Bowling Green will face Central Michigan (1-8, 0-5 MAC) on the road as both programs try to collect their first wins in MAC play.