Junior quarterback Dustin Crum converted four first downs on Kent State’s opening drive, leading to a 21-yard field goal to give Kent State an early 3-0 lead.
“The big factor early on was our success on first and second down,” coach Sean Lewis said. “The distance to gain was pretty manageable. We finished 9-for-18 on third down conversions and against this defense we’re pretty proud of that effort.”
He finished the game 15-for-24 with a career-high 198 yards. Kent State went on to lose 55-16. Kent State drops to 1-2 on the season, while No. 8 Auburn improves to 3-0.
The Flashes had a chance for a long field goal on their second drive, but an unsportsmanlike penalty on Lewis moved them back to the 47-yard line. Lewis was upset that Crum was pushed to the ground on a trick play that had senior receiver Kavious Price throw a pass that landed at Crum’s feet.
“I thought the hit was a little bit late,” Lewis said. “I just wanted to let our kids know that we weren’t going to come down here and get pushed around. Obviously, I was in the wrong. I went too far and said the wrong thing, but I just wanted to protect our kids.”
Crum hit sophomore receiver Isaiah McKoy in stride for a 53-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter to cut the lead to 14-10.
Crum threw for 162 yards in the first half, but was limited to just 36 yards the remainder of the game. He was pulled with about six minutes left in the third quarter for junior quarterback Woody Barrett with the Flashes trailing 38-10.
The former Auburn Tiger found Price on a 15-yard slant in the fourth quarter for Kent State’s lone second half touchdown.
Kent State’s passing defense played well, despite the score. The Flashes limited freshman quarterback Bo Nix to 161 yards and one touchdown. The Tigers were without sophomore receiver Seth Williams, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Nix in a 27-21 win over Oregon.
“We knew going in that we had to limit the big plays through the air with all the speed that they have,” Lewis said. “We committed to that, but we gave up a little bit with their rushing attack. They’re a dynamic team that can hurt you on the ground or through the air.”
The Flashes had two injuries to significant players—senior safety Akeam Peters and senior center Nate Warnock both went down in the third quarter.
“We’re good, it’s nothing major just some bumps and bruises,” Lewis said. “We’ll go in the training room tomorrow and get all of that assessed, but we’re alright.”
Kent State’s next game is against Bowling Green (1-2) next Saturday. The Falcons are coming off a 35-7 loss against Louisiana Tech. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at Dix Stadium.
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