The Kent State Golden Flashes will continue to search for the school's first ever bowl win after dropping the GoDaddy.com Bowl to Arkansas State, 17-13, Sunday night in Mobile, Alabama.
Kent State trailed for much of the game after getting out to a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter. Standout athlete and AP All-American Dri Archer rattled off a couple of explosive plays at running back, but then was sidelined for much of the second half due to an injury.
Though Kent State had its chances, things started out slow for both teams, with no points being scored in the first 15 minutes of action.
Arkansas State quarterback Ryan Aplin’s third-down pass fell incomplete and the Red Wolves’ first drive stalled before they could reach midfield. The ensuing punt by Neely Sullivent was a poor 26-yard attempt that sailed out of bounds, and Kent State capitalized.
Freshman running back Julian Durden exploded, taking a handoff 32 yards up the middle to put the Golden Flashes at the 2-yard line. After two stuffed rushing attempts, howeverm the Red Wolves picked off Spencer Keith on a miraculous interception by Nathan Herrold on a ball that was tipped multiple times.
After the dull first quarter, the Golden Flashes struck first in the opening moments of the second. Dri Archer ran for a 16-yard score to put Kent State in the lead.
Later in the quarter Arkansas State built some momentum and struck back after two consecutive three-and-outs. David Oku capped off a nine-play, 60-yard drive with a 10-yard TD run of his own.
After another stalled drive by the Golden Flashes, the Red Wolves marched down the field and punched in a go-ahead score just before halftime. A fake screen and subsequent roll-out pass to J.D. McKissic completed the 31-yard scoring play.
Kent State took over with about one minute left to play and Freddy Cortez converted on a 42-yard field goal to narrow the gap to 14-10 just before half.
The two teams traded field goals in the third, but scoring continued to be hard to come by in the fourth quarter. With five minutes left to play and down 17-13, the Golden Flashes took over on their own 23-yard line after a key stop on 3rd-and-6.
Spencer Keith then converted on a 4th-and-8 attempt to get his team into position to steal the victory. The comeback was not to be, though, as the Red Wolves stuffed the Flashes on their next fourth-down attempt. Keith scrambled after the pocket broke down and came up a couple of yards short.
The NOT SportsCenter parody account mused about the unknown teams squaring off in the penultimate college football matchup:
RIGHT NOW: Kent State vs Arkansas State in the "We invited two schools to play that most Americans didn't know had DI football teams" Bowl— NOT SportsCenter (@NOTSportsCenter) January 7, 2013
Famous Ohioan Drew Carey likes what he sees from the Golden Flashes:
Great seeing Kent State in a bowl game. I could get used to this. :) #Godaddy.combowl— Drew Carey (@DrewFromTV) January 7, 2013
GoDaddy's most famous spokeswoman, Danica Patrick pointed out some diehard fans in the crowd:
Whos your go daddy is written across a group of Arkansas fans chests in the stands.... So, who is ur go daddy? #godaddybowl— Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) January 7, 2013
Uni Swag highlighted Kent State’s new helmets for the evening:
Local Ohio comedian Mike Polk Jr. promptly bashed those new helmets:
Congrats to the teen girl who evidently won a Portage County-wide high school contest to design Kent State's new helmets! #KentState— Mike Polk Jr. (@mikepolkjr) January 7, 2013
Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) January 7, 2013
Player of the Game: Ryan Aplin, QB, Arkansas State
Aplin led the Red Wolves to 10 wins this year, including this eight consecutive win to end the season.
While he wasn't spectacular, Aplin played good enough to win. His ability to protect the football and minimize turnovers against the nation's best takeaway team speaks volumes about his understanding of game situations.
At one point, he hit 10 consecutive pass completions in the contest.