If Kent State’s 62-20 victory over Bowling Green on Sept. 21, 2019 wasn’t convincing at the time, the Golden Flashes proved that domination was no fluke. They shifted to Bowling Green’s house and reiterated nearly an identical performance to what we saw a season ago. This time, Kent State manhandled the Falcons 62-24 to win their sixth-straight game and improve to 2-0 for the first time since 1988.
Quarterback Dustin Crum notched 310 passing yards and three touchdowns in last year’s affair. In the rematch, Crum delivered four touchdowns and 271 passing yards on only 18 completions. He established valuable connections with wide receivers Isaiah McKoy and Ja’Shaun Poke, who scored two touchdowns apiece in the all-out obliteration.
It was a special breakout performance for Poke, who was seldom utilized his freshman season. Kent State emphasizes its signature “Flash Fast” offense and Poke proved he is the perfect fit for Sean Lewis’ system. The blazing fast receiver dominated from the slot, racing to the end zone in the second quarter twice, once on a bubble screen and again on a quick slant. Poke caught five passes for 80 yards Tuesday night after entering the game with six career receptions and 70 yards to his name.
Kent State’s run game over the past several seasons was led by a 6’1”, 230-pound halfback from Pittsburgh. Jo-El Shaw may be gone, but now a 6’0”, 243-pound back from Pittsburgh has arrived. Bryan Bradford led the Golden Flashes in rushing yards a week ago, and one-upped himself with 113 yards on 13 carries against Bowling Green. While Bradford had his way with the Bowling Green defense, Marquez Cooper complemented his production with 53 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Golden Flashes’ offense was dominant to the point where we saw an extended preview of the backup quarterback. Collin Schlee substituted for Crum with around three minutes remaining in the third quarter. Schlee sustained the offensive momentum with 101 passing yards and 62 rushing yards, adding two touchdowns to the scoreboard. He dashed for a 15-yard touchdown in the middle of the fourth quarter and closed the night with a 25-yard touchdown pass to lift Kent State to 62 points.
Bowling Green is becoming accustomed to taking such pulverizations. Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Falcons are the first FBS team over the last 15 seasons to lose five consecutive conference games by 35 points, dating back to the end of 2019. Bowling Green has also allowed 62 or more points in back-to-back home games, stretching its losing streak to five. Overall, Bowling Green has yielded 60 points to an opponent seven times since 2016, doing such for the fifth-straight season after Tuesday night’s debacle.
Bowling Green showed little to no improvement from the 35-point beatdown at Toledo in the passing game. After finishing 8/30 a week ago, the Falcons completed 6/20 passes. But not all was desolate offensively. Running back Terion Stewart became the hero the offense needed, contributing two touchdowns and 162 yards on 14 carries.
The Falcons opened the game strong, using an 81-yard kick return to set up a field goal and piecing together a 9-play, 77-yard touchdown drive. When the first quarter ended, Kent State and Bowling Green were deadlocked at 10 apiece, but the Golden Flashes instantly turned the key, revved the engine, and drove away with four touchdowns on their first four drives of the second quarter. Next time Bowling Green scored, the Falcons cut the deficit to 55-17 signifying the contest was a wrap.
For Bowling Green, things might get worse before they get better. The Falcons face what appears to be the MAC’s 2020 frontrunner next week in Buffalo. The Bulls slaughtered Miami (OH), the reigning MAC champion, Tuesday night by the score of 42-10 and should be pegged as heavy road favorites in Bowling Green.
Kent State is trending in the exact opposite direction, and it will look forward to facing a team that’s struggling even more than Bowling Green. Against an Akron team that has dropped 19 consecutive games, the Golden Flashes aim to start 3-0 next Tuesday for the first time since 1958.