October 26, 2009

Built to Last

After six weeks of the 2009 season, the Kent State football program looked a lot like the previous five Doug Martin teams. The Golden Flashes were 2-4 after several self-induced mishaps led to blown opportunities, none worse than failing to hold on to a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter of a 36-35 loss to Bowling Green on Oct. 10.

Throughout Martin's six years at Kent State, the Golden Flashes have had talent. They have had experience. But, rarely have they had the combination of both.

After years of restocking and retooling his roster, that's exactly where Martin has the Flashes this season, and for years to come. And it was evident during the second half of Kent State's 20-11 win at Ohio on Saturday.

With Kent State leading 6-3, freshman quarterback Spencer Keith and classmate Tyshon Goode went to work. At the end of the game the duo had combined for two scores with each setting career highs-Keith with 273 passing yards and Goode with 105 receiving yards.

The second score, which came with 7:02 left in the game, sealed the Flashes' victory. Keith's pump fake pulled two of the three Bobcats' defenders off Goode, who slashed in front of the third and dove into the end zone to make the catch.

"Tyshon did a good job of slanting inside," Keith said. "I saw him do that and I hit him low."

That play has Martin excited about the future.

"The thing that was really nice about it was that was a freshman quarterback to a freshman receiver," Martin said. "So that means you got a chance to be pretty good for a long time if you keep those guys around."

It's not just Keith and Goode. The Golden Flashes have a host of younger players making plays. There's sophomore wide receiver Sam Kirkland, who set a career-high with 80 receiving yards at Ohio, and sophomore running back Jacquise Terry, who posted the third 100-yard rushing effort of his career against the Bobcats.

In all, 13 freshmen or sophomore players have started a game this season for the Flashes. Add the 12 juniors that have started a game this year and the Flashes return next season 25 of 38 players that have started at least one game this season.

"We really don't have many seniors playing on either side of the ball," Martin said. "We've got a young team, but we've got a lot of experience too; that helps us. Guys like (Brian Lainhart) and (Cobrani Mixon) on (defense); (Chris Anzevino) and (Michael Fay on (offense). We've got a good mix."

The Flashes have started 13 seniors at least once this season.

In addition, kicker Freddy Cortez is a freshman and punter Matt Rinehart is a sophomore. With those two players included, the Golden Flashes return next year 18 of the 24 players that started against Ohio last Saturday.

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