No. 25 Kent State beats Bowling Green 31-24
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (AP) — Dri Archer ran for 241 yards and two long touchdowns to lead No. 25 Kent State to its first Mid-American Conference title game with a 31-24 victory over Bowling Green on Saturday.
Kent State's defense stopped Bowling Green twice within the last five minutes inside the Flashes own territory.
Luke Wollet's interception of Matt Scihilz' heave into the end zone with 21 seconds left sealed the victory. The Falcons had driven to the Kent State 14-yard line with less than a minute left, before coming up empty on four consecutive throws.
Back in the national rankings for the first time since 1973, Kent State (10-1, 7-0 MAC) avoided becoming the third MAC team to lose a week after getting into the Top 25.
Ohio was the first MAC team to get into the rankings this season, and the Bobcats then lost their next game to Miami (Ohio). Toledo got into the rankings and promptly lost to Ball State last week.
It was a game of big plays on both sides, with four touchdowns going for over 70 yards, including Archer's scoring runs of 79 and 74 yards
The teams traded scores until Kent State defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix tipped Schilz's pass and lineman Richard Gray grabbed the ball out of the air, setting up the Flashes at Bowling Green's 20-yard line.
Archer took it from there, getting the offense down to the 7-yard line. Quarterback Spencer Keith then faked to Archer and kept it for a 7-yard TD that put the Flashes ahead for good with 8:14 left.
On the third play of the fourth quarter, Archer broke three tackles on his way to a 74-yard touchdown run that put Kent State ahead 24-17. The speedy junior appeared to be stopped at midfield, but somehow managed to slip away and zigzagged into the end zone.
Schilz came right back for Bowling Green (7-4, 5-2), hitting Chris Gallon along the sideline for an 81-yard TD, his second of the day.
Bowling Green took the lead early in the third quarter 17-10 when Matt Schilz lofted a 27-yard throw to Shaun Joplin who leaped over a defender and came down with one foot in the corner of the end zone.
Kent State came back on the next drive by turning to Archer who had a catch and two runs for 38 yards, setting up Spencer Keith's 32-yard TD pass to Eric Adeyemi, making it 17-17 with 7:47 left in the third quarter.
Kent State extended its school record nine-game winning streak in what is its first winning season since 2001.
They've now won 13 of 16, including 11 straight in the MAC, since beating Bowling Green a year ago under second-year coach Darrell Hazell who previously spent seven seasons as an assistant at Ohio State.
It was tied 10-10 at the end of the first half.
Neither side managed much offense outside a pair of big plays for touchdowns. Two turnovers also set up short field goals for both teams.
Bowling Green bottled up the Flashes' physical, grind-it-out running game in the first quarter, holding them to just three first downs — the first coming on a fake punt that gained 31 yards.
Norman Wolfe's interception early in the second quarter set up Kent State's first score, a 32-yard field goal by Freddy Cortez.
On its next possession, Archer took a handoff, made one cut and raced past everyone for a 79-yard TD that gave Kent State a 10-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
The Falcons answered on the next play from scrimmage when Schilz found receiver Gallon all alone over the middle for a 72-scoring pass that cut the lead to 10-7. Gallon had no one within 10-yards of him when he caught the ball.