DETROIT — The game plan for Kent State University football coach Darrell Hazell really a simple plan find many ways to put the ball in the hand of Dri Archer and watch the excitement unfold.
As simple as the game plan for the Golden Flashes likewise for Northern Illinois University football coach Dave Doeren’s plan just limit the number of touches that Archer gets and hope to control the tempo of the game with the Mid-American 2012 Offensive Player of the Year Northern Illinois University quarterback Jordan Lynch.
The Huskies offense ran a total of 90 plays while Kent State University offense could only run 79 offensive plays.
Like a good heavy weight championship fight both teams felt out their opponent looking for any kind of advantage to exploit and like a good heavy weight fighter both team posses a knockout punch.
The only rope-a-dope and slipping by anything was done by Northern Illinois University and there heavyweight quarterback Lynch. The Huskies landed enough punches and walked out of Ford Field 44-37 double-overtime victory over Kent State University and winning the Mid-American Conference Championship for the second year in a row.
Lynch ran 36 times for a total of 160 yards and three touchdown. When he did not feel like running the ball he threw the ball 34 times and completed 19 for 212 yards.
“That’s a great football team we played and they did an excellent job,” Hazell said after the game. “That’s an excellent football team and the quarterback is an exceptional player. We had a hard time tackling him all day.”
Kent State University landed an uppercut to the chin with 4:38 in the fourth quarter when Daniels did not secure a hand off from Lynch and the ball fell to the turf.
Lynch described the play as a white-knuckle type of play and that a player needs to clinch the ball tighter.
“It was my fault and I will take the blame,” Lynch said. “When you run the option something I call white knuckle you got to squeeze the ball when ever the rush is charging you and I did not squeeze the ball and they hit us and it was good play by them. I got be smarter in that situation.”
Golden Flashes defensive end Zach Hitchens scooped up the ball and cradled the ball and ran for 22-yards and tied the score at 27-27.
Lynch with an ever present cool of a Joe Montana, collected his team mates and brushed away the fumble with a 4 play drive that covered 75-yards and Lynch scoring his second touchdown of the night.
“I think both teams wanted that really bad. Both teams fought and when they jumped out to a lead and we fought back. The second half was back and forth and we had a chance to put them away and they had a 99-yard drive against out defense, which nobody’s done. We had to resolve to battle back.” Doeren said about his team’s effort against Kent State University. “We turned it over, they score and we just kept them playing. Nobody flinched. Everybody believed. I’m really proud of the resolve and the leadership.”
The Golden Flashes showed plenty of conviction and plenty of fight left.
Kent State University quarterback Spencer Keith showed he posses grit too, he led the Golden Flashes 58-yard scoring drive in 11 plays
Keith attempted 36 passes completing 15 for 190 yards, he was sacked four times and threw two interceptions.
Keith scrambled to his left and found his tight end Tim Erjavec in the end zone and completed the 19-yard toss to send the game into overtime.
Landing the first punch and taking advantage of a mistake, the Golden Flashes cashed in a fumble recovery.
Kent State University Darrius Polk recovered a fumble on a punt return by Northern Illinois University Angelo Sebastiano and Archer did the rest with a great cut during the scoring run of 15-yards.
Archer scored his 22nd touchdown of the season. Kent State‘s previous single-season record was 18. Archer‘s 15th rushing touchdown ranks alone in second place among Kent State University single-season leaders.
Kent State University took advantage of good field position and Northern Illinois University mistakes to end the first quarter leading 10-3.
The second quarter Lynch and the Huskies took advantage of the mistakes by the Golden Flashes but also controlled the tempo with a clock consuming offense.
Huskies strong safety Dechane Durante adding help in the coverage reached up and hulled in a Kent State University quarterback Keith’s pass for the interception.
The turnover place the ball into the capable hands of Lynch. He directed his offense down the field and gave the ball to running back Akeem Daniels who soared just enough through the Ford Field atmosphere and landed in the end zone to give the Huskies the half time lead.
Daniles finish the day rushing 17 times for 128 yards and one touchdown.
Northern Illinois University offense gained 524 yards for the game. At half time the Huskies offense left for the locker room with 245 yards while only giving away 50 yards of total offense for the Golden Flashes.
“Well what a great football game, it is a tough one to swallow right now,” Hazell said. “I was proud of our football team for keep battling back after being down 14 points. We just needed to make a couple of more plays at the end on both sides of the ball.”
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.