October 4, 2009

Flashes build confidence in second half

It's a scene that's been played over and over and over again.

The Kent State football team buried itself in the first half of a game, only to outplay their opponent in the second half. After scoring the first touchdown of the game at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas, the Golden Flashes watched as Baylor reeled off 28 straight points to put the game away early in the third quarter.

The first half was marred with penalties-the Flashes had a season-high nine penalties in the game's first 20 minutes-and other miscues. Baylor blocked a Freddy Cortez field goal attempted and picked off a Giorgio Morgan pass on a first down attempt.

"I was real pleased with the way our guys competed," said Kent State head coach Doug Martin. "If we don't get some penalties and a couple blocked kicks we're in that game; we moved the ball well. We'll go back to work and go compete in our conference. I'm really proud of the way our guys competed."

Baylor led 21-7 at the half and added to that lead on the first drive of the third quarter when quarterback Nick Florence capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive with a 29-yard run.

The Golden Flashes responded, in a big way. On their first play from scrimmage in the second half, Terry burst through the line and outran the rest of the Baylor defense for a 61-yard touchdown run. Terry finished with a game-high 109 yards on 12 carries.

"We knew we had to come out and answer," Terry said. "We knew if they scored we'd have to come out and answer, so they scored and we knew we had to come out and answer. Coach just called a great play, I saw a seam and I took it."

That run gave the Golden Flashes momentum. They forced three straight Baylor punts and recorded a safety on the Bears' fourth possession before Ben Parks booted a 26-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter.

Kent State's offense, which accounted for just 174 yards of offense in the first half, out-gained the Bears 250-144 in the second half, but went 0-for-3 in red zone scoring opportunities.

The offense was sparked by the play of true freshman Spencer Keith, who finished the night 21-of-39 for 206 yards with one interception, which came on a fourth-and-goal. That interception pinned the Bears down at the own 1-yard line. On their first play from scrimmage Aaron Hull stuffed Terrance Ganaway in the end zone for the Flashes third safety of the season.

"I felt really confident. Our guys did really good blocking for me, our line did really good," Keith said. "We just came out there and drove the ball really well in the second half, but we couldn't put it in in the red zone. I think we got in the red zone three times in the second half; we just couldn't punch it in. We'll work on that in practice and try to get better at that."

The defense deserves plenty of credit for their performance in the second half. After allowing three drives of 60 or more yards in the first half, they allowed just one in the second half and that came on the Bears' first possession.

After that 80-yard scoring drive the Bears three-and-out twice and ran just four plays on their next drive.

"We threw a little more coverages in there, just to get more guys in the box to help out on (bubble screens) because they were really doing well on bubbles," said junior safety Brian Lainhart, who led the team with 14 tackles. "It was mainly tackling. We told ourselves if we tackle we'd be fine because we were in position, we had guys behind the line but they'd break one tackle and get 10-15 yards. We had to settle down and play."

With the play of Keith at quarterback, Terry at running back and a defense that found an identity in the second half, the Golden Flashes are playing with a lot of confidence heading into next weekend's Mid-American Conference showdown with Bowling Green.

"It's a different mentality right now; our guys, they're really a confident group," Martin said. "They're excited about coming back and playing Bowling Green next week."


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