OXFORD – Kent State captured its eighth consecutive win and secured an opportunity to play for a division championship with a 48-32 road victory over Miami University on Saturday at Yeager Stadium.
At 9-1 overall and a perfect 6-0 in Mid-American Conference play following another inspiring effort by the thunder-and-lightning tandem of Trayion Durham and Dri Archer, the Golden Flashes will travel to Bowling Green next week with a chance to clinch the Mid-American Conference East Division title.
"This is a huge win for our program," said Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell. "It puts us at 6-0 in the MAC and we're still in the running for some very nice things."
Durham and Archer have been paving the road to a potential championship all season long. On Saturday, both backs eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing on the season, becoming the first one-two tandem to accomplish the feat for Kent State in the same year.
It didn't take Durham long to realize he, Archer and the entire Kent State offense were on their way to putting up some gaudy numbers. When he burst through a gaping hole and then bounced outside for 14 yards on the Golden Flashes' first play from scrimmage, "that's when I knew we were going to have a field day," Duhram said. "To be honest, I felt like a train, just going. Nothing could stop me."
Durham finished with 172 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. It was the power back's fourth consecutive 100-yard performance and a new career high. Durham opened the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. The game was little more than 20 minutes old when Durham scored again from nine yards out to give the Golden Flashes a commanding 28-0 lead.
"I felt we came out and were hitting on all cylinders," said Hazell.
Archer kept the Kent State engine firing with touchdown runs of 35 and 43 yards on his way to a 151-yard afternoon on just 11 carries. The speedster added a 33-yard scoring catch from quarterback Spencer Keith early in the fourth quarter. With his 19th touchdown of the season, Archer owns Kent State's new new single-season record.
"(Durham and Archer) are two spectacular players," said Hazell. "The thing that I like about them is they get better each week. They come to work with a purpose and they give you a little bit of something different … a change of pace and power.
"And you can't say enough good things about our guys up front. Those guys have ben phenomenal in my opinion."
Keith added to the rushing attack with 69 yards on nine carries, including a 28-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to help Kent State take a 35-10 lead into the break. The senior quarterback was intercepted twice, but still finished with 147 yards and a touchdown on a 10-for-16 day.
Miami senior quarterback Zac Dysert was picked off in the first half by defensive ends Zack Hitchens and Mark Fackler as Kent State added to its league-leading interception total. The Golden Flashes now have 18 interceptions and a plus-20 turnover ratio on the season.
Despite being sacked five times, including three by Kent State end Jake Dooley, Dysert managed to throw for 455 yards and four touchdowns while completing 37 of his 50 attempts.
"Obviously, Dysert is a great quarterback and we knew that coming in," said Hazell. "We knew it sould be a formidable task to shut him down because he's such a good player and he's able to keep the ball alive and create some things."
Engineering a comeback from an early 28-0 deficit was even too much for Dysert.
"Today was another good win for the Flashes," said Hazell. "(Any time you can go on the road and beat a worthy opponent, which is very hard to do, it' sa good win for the football program."
The Flashes will go on the road to face an even more formidable opponent in Bowling Green. After beating Ohio earlier in the week, the Falcons (7-3, 5-1) trail Kent State by just one game in the East Division standings.
"Every game is so critical in the MAC," said Hazell. "There are so many good football teams and I'm very proud of our football team and how they've stayed the course, how they prepare every week and the maturity of our football team in the locker room.
"We are going to enjoy this football game tonight. Then we will look at Bowling Green tomorrow."
YPSILANTI, Mich. — Led by a standout performance and a big play from a pair of freshmen, Central Michigan got by rival Eastern Michigan (1-9, 0-6 MAC), 34-31, on Saturday afternoon at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti.
Receiver Andrew Flory starred for CMU on offense, catching nine passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns, all career highs, while defensive back Kavon Frazier made the play of the day for the Chippewa defense, returning an interception, the first of his career, 49 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Junior running back Zurlon Tipton ran for 110 yards, his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing performance, pushing him over the 1,000-yard barrier for the season for the first time in his career. Senior quarterback Ryan Radcliff threw for 284 yards on 20-of-34 passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Down 14-10 at halftime, a 21-point outpouring in the third quarter by Central Michigan (4-6, 2-4 MAC) proved to be the game’s turning point.
Eastern Michigan looked to have seized control of the game early in the third quarter when back-up quarterback Alex Gillett ran 53 yards for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 21-10 lead. But Central Michigan responded, putting together a 10-play, 65-yard scoring drive, punctuated by an 11-yard touchdown run by Tipton, his 13th of the season, to pull within four points.
On the ensuing drive, Frazier stepped in front of a Gillett pass and weaved his way to the end zone, giving CMU its first lead of the afternoon at 24-21; an advantage that it would not relinquish for the remainder of the game.
Later in the quarter, Radcliff found Flory wide open in the end zone with a 14-scoring strike to provide CMU with its largest lead of the game at 31-21 with 1:32 remaining.
The teams traded field goals early in the fourth quarter and Gillett was able to pull EMU to within three when he connected with Jay Jones on a 25-scoring pass with 1:37 remaining in the game. However, CMU recovered an onside kick and hard running by Tipton allowed the Chippewas to run out the clock and secure the win.
Eastern Michigan struck first, taking advantage of a CMU turnover on its first offensive play of the game, a fumble by sophomore receiver Titus Davis. Taking over on the Chippewas’ 21-yard line, redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyler Benz wasted little time converting on the miscue, hitting tight end Tyreese Russell with a 19-yard scoring pass on EMU’s second play.
Central Michigan’s ensuing possession stalled, forcing a Richie Hogan punt that pinned EMU on its own 12-yard line. But the Eagles went the length of the field to go up 14-0, churning out a 15-play, 88-yard, 9:19-long drive that was capped by a 26-yard fake field goal scoring run by Gillett.
The CMU defense stepped up on Eastern’s first possession of the second quarter, forcing a key turnover. Redshirt freshman defensive end Blake Serpa pressured Benz into throwing an errant pass that was picked off by junior safety Avery Cunningham, setting the Chippewas up at the EMU 42-yard line. Central Michigan cut the Eagles’ lead in half when Radcliff connected with freshman receiver Andrew Flory on a 19-yard touchdown pass, the first of his career, finishing off a 10-play drive. Flory also had a big reception earlier in the drive, helping to convert on a fourth-and-10.
The defense again helped CMU earn points later in the second quarter, as sacks by senior defensive end Joe Kinville and the combination of Cunningham and freshman defensive back Brandon Greer thwarted an EMU drive. The Chippewas advanced to the Eastern one-yard line, thanks in part to a 30-yard reception by tight end Caleb Southworth and a 37-yard catch by running back Zurlon Tipton, but a touchdown toss to Flory was nullified by an offensive pass interference call. CMU had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by senior kicker David Harman, cutting the deficit to 14-10 just before halftime.
CMU will finish out its 2012 home schedule next weekend when it welcomes Miami (Ohio) (4-6, 3-3 MAC) to Mount Pleasant for a 1 p.m. game on Saturday, Nov. 17. Nineteen Chippewas, who will be playing their final game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium, will be honored on Senior Day.
UMass 22, Akron 14 Final Stats
AKRON, Ohio - The Minutemen defense forced four interceptions to lead the UMass football team to its first win at the FBS level, 22-14, at Akron on Saturday afternoon at InfoCision Stadium. Along with the defensive efforts, the UMass special teams came up with a blocked punt, three field goals and three consecutive punts downed inside the five-yard line in the fourth quarter. With the win, UMass improves to 1-9 overall and 1-5 in the Mid-American Conference.
The Minutemen will return to action next Saturday at Gillette Stadium against Buffalo at 3 PM. The game will also be Band Day featuring high school bands from around New England joining the UMass Marching Band. Additionally, there will be a firework show after the game.
Mike Wegzyn completed 23-of-39 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown marking his second highest yardage total for the season. He also ran for a one-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Alan Williams and Rob Blanchflower each hauled in six recpetions with Williams posting a team-high 86 yards and a touchdown.
Darren Thellen led the defense with 11 tackles, while Perry McIntyre added nine. Khary Bailey-Smith, Randall Jette, Joe Colton, and Ed Saint-Vil each recorded interceptions.
Special teams were also key for the Minutemen with Blake Lucas accounting for 10 of UMass' 15 points hitting three field goals and an extra point. Punter Colter Johnson averaged 44.8 yards per kick with four punts inside the 10-yard line including three straight in the fourth quarter inside the three-yard line.
The Minutemen started the game with a Lucas 23-yard field goal with 2:21 left in the first quarter. The scoring drive was set up by Colton blocking an Akron punt and Bailey-Smith recovering the ball and advancing it to the Akron five yard line.
In the second quarter, UMass tacked on two more field goals and Williams' touchdown reception. Wegzyn hit Williams for a 24-yard touchdown strike to make the score 12-0 with 6:35 left in the half. The Minutemen went for the two-point conversion, but failed to convert. Lucas hit his third field goal of the game with 13 seconds left in the half to go up 15-0 at the intermission.
Buffalo 29, Western Michigan 24 Final Stats
BUFFALO, NY – With the help of five forced turnovers, the University at Buffalo football team won its second straight game, 29-24, over Western Michigan at UB Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Cortney Lester led the defensive effort with a career-high three interceptions – a Division I-A school record.
"From all three phases, they fed off each other," head coach Jeff Quinn. "We saw some great things from the offensive side, the defensive side and special teams. Overall it was just a tremendous team victory."
While it was its defense that sealed the win, it was Buffalo's offense that was rolling early. Making his second straight start at quarterback, Joe Licata went 21-for-33 for 285 yards and a touchdown in the game. He led to the Bulls on three scoring drives on their first eight possessions helping UB gain a 17-0 advantage.
Branden Oliver put the Bulls on the board first with an 18-yard touchdown run to give the Bulls a 7-0 lead with 9:43 left in the first quarter. The junior running back was well on his way to another big day, but was forced to leave the game with an injury at the end of the first quarter. Oliver had 75 yards on 12 carries at the time of the injury.
Devin Campbell stepped in and scored UB's next touchdown on a 45-yard scamper – the longest run of his career to put the Bulls ahead, 14-0. Campbell finished with 107 yards for his third 100-yard game of the season. But he, too, was lost to an injury in the fourth quarter.
Last week's hero Patrick Clarke made a 30-yard field goal to put Buffalo ahead, 17-0, with 3:28 left in the half.
Western Michigan rallied to score two touchdowns late in the half to cut the UB advantage to 17-14 at the break.
The Broncos took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched right down the field and scored another touchdown to take their first lead of the game, 21-17.
Clarke made his second field goal of the day to cut the Western Michigan lead to 21-20 with 3:14 left in the third quarter. Lester's second interception of the day came on the very first play of the Broncos' next drive as the sophomore snatched the ball away and scampered 35 yards to the Western Michigan 25-yard line. Clarke gave the lead back to the Bulls when he drilled a 38-yard field goal late in the third quarter.
Western Michigan retook a 24-23 lead with 13:26 left in the game on a 28-yard field goal by Andrew Handleman.
Buffalo regained the lead for good on its next possession when Licata hooked up with Alex Neutz on a 30-yard touchdown down the sideline to give the Bulls the 29-24 lead. Neutz finished with nine catches for 140 yards and his 10th touchdown of the season.
After that it was up to the defense to make plays, and boy did they. Senior Willie Moseley, playing in the final home game of his career, made his first career interception on Western Michigan's next possession to give the ball back to UB.
After a defensive stand by the Broncos, Western Michigan drove the ball down to the Buffalo 24-yard line. Jake Stockman rushed off the edge and blindsided Western Michigan quarterback Alex Carder, forcing a fumble. Colby Way pounced on the ball for the Bulls.
The Broncos had one last shot, regaining possession of the ball at their own 10-yard line with 1:23 remaining. Lester saved his biggest interception for last as he picked off Carder for the third time to seal the win for the Bulls.
"I have the game ball and I told them if I could cut this into 105 pieces I would," Quinn said. "But we're going to sign this one and let them know that this was a real signature win to cross over to the West Division and beat a Western Michigan team that played in a bowl game last year."
It was Buffalo's first ever win over Western Michigan after falling to the Broncos in the previous five meetings.
The Bulls will play at MAC-newcomer Massachusetts next Saturday.