First Home Football Game of 2017 Season Kicks Off Saturday

Dix Stadium begins its 49th season as the home of Kent State University football Saturday, Sept. 9, when the Golden Flashes host Howard University at 3:30 p.m. during Parents and Families Weekend. The Golden Flashes are in their 95th season of football, which started on Sept. 2 at defending national champion Clemson University.

Along with the Kent State Marching Golden Flashes, this Saturday’s halftime will feature Howard’s “Showtime” Marching Band. Howard is coming off the biggest point spread upset victory in college football history with a 43-40 road win at UNLV, the program’s first over a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent.

Facts in a Flash

  • Senior Nick Holley has rushed for over 50 yards in 7-of-8 career starts at quarterback. In his first six games at quarterback in 2016, he rushed for nine touchdowns.
  • Senior center Nathan Puthoff was chosen to wear the No. 54 jersey in honor of late teammate Jason Bitsko.
  • Puthoff is on the preseason Rimington Trophy Watch List, honoring the nation’s best center, while Derek Adams is one of only seven sophomore punters on the Ray Guy Watch List.
  • Adams was named Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Special Team Player of the Week on Monday, following four punts of 50 yards or more at Clemson.
  • With head coach Paul Haynes recently announcing a medical leave of absence, offensive coordinator Don Treadwell has taken over as interim head coach.
  • Kent State returned 53 letterwinners, including three All-MAC selections on defense. The Golden Flashes returned nine players on offense and seven on defense with at least six career starts.
  • The Golden Flashes finished eighth in the nation in turnover margin last season and did not commit a turnover at Clemson.
  • Junior Shane Hynes made his 23rd career field at Clemson, which ranks sixth among Kent State’s all-time leaders.
  • Junior Quan Robinson made his first career interception at Clemson.
  • Last season, Kent State ranked 20th in pass efficiency defense and 22nd in passing yards allowed.
  • Kent State returns 12 players who have earned Academic All-MAC honors in their career and three MAC Distinguished Scholar Athletes.

All-Time Series

Saturday will be the first meeting between Kent State and Howard. The Golden Flashes are 3-1 against the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), most recently falling to North Carolina A&T State University last season. All three MEAC wins have come against Delaware State University.


Saturday’s game game can be seen on ESPN3 with Michael Reghi (play-by-play) and Je’rod Cherry (analyst). The game can be heard live on WHLO 640 and Golden Flashes Radio on iHeartRadio. Ty Linder will handle the play-by-play duties and is joined in the booth for the eighth year in a row by color analyst Rob Polinsky. Jacob Pavilack will be on the sideline. iHeartRadio can be heard on a computer, smart phone or tablet.

Raising the Bahr

Junior Matt Bahr made what seems to be a seamless transition from safety to linebacker in the spring with some extra time in the weight room and at the kitchen table. During the Clemson game, Bahr made nine tackles in the first half, including six solo stops and 1.0 tackle for loss.

More on Bahr and LBs

Bahr is a two-time MAC Distinguished Scholar Athlete who graduated in three years. He serves as president of Kent State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. The former walk-on also serves on the MAC’s Student-Athlete Executive Committee and is on the Wuerffel Trophy Watch List. Fellow linebackers James Alexander and Danny Johnson joined Bahr and other Kent State student-athletes on a summer trip to Belize, working with “Courts for Kids.”

Treadwell Taking Reins

Don Treadwell is no stranger to serving as an interim head coach following an abrupt change or serving as a head coach in the MAC. Treadwell took over as interim head coach at Michigan State in 2010, while Mark Dantonio was out with illness. The Spartans’ success that season made Treadwell a candidate for the Broyles Award, honoring the nation’s top assistant coach. He also served as head coach at Miami from 2011-2013.

Home Openers

Since 1946, Kent State is 41-29-1 in home openers. The Golden Flashes have won 12 of their last 16 home openers, most recently a 45-13 win over Delaware State in 2015. Last season, Kent State dropped a quadruple overtime heartbreaker to North Carolina A&T State 39-36. Justin Rankin and Johnny Woods each scored touchdowns in overtime, but the Aggies found the end zone a third time in overtime.

Versatile Freshman

True freshman Kesean Gamble saw action at both linebacker and running back at Clemson. He finished with 21 yards rushing and two tackles. Gamble also was a two-way star in high school.

Earning Degrees

Kent State ranks tied for ninth among FBS schools and second in the MAC for college degrees earned. Headlined by linebacker Matt Bahr, who graduated in three years, there are 11 players on the Kent State roster who have bachelor’s degrees: James Alexander, Dan Hillenbrand, Nick Holley, Melran Leach, Devante Lee, Ryan Malone, Jake McVay, Nathan Puthoff, Erik Simpson and Kris White.

Honoring Tyler Heintz

The initials T.H. will be on the back of Golden Flashes’ helmets throughout the season, honoring Tyler Heintz, who passed away in June following the second morning of summer workouts. The incoming freshman had just graduated from Kenton High School, where several other Golden Flashes had attended before him. The helmet decal will be in blue and red, representing the colors of both Kenton and Kent State. Heintz’s family will be present at Saturday’s game.

Preseason Honors

Seven Golden Flashes were named to Athlon’s Preseason All-MAC Team:

  • First Team: Nick Holley, Jon Cunningham
  • Second Team: Jerrell Foster
  • Third Team: Zaquon Tyson (returner)
  • Fourth Team: Derek Adams, Stefano Millin, Demetrius Monday

Learn more about Kent State Athletics

POSTED: Thursday, September 7, 2017 08:45 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2022 11:02 PM
Aaron Chimenti