Kent State Wins Home Opener 17-10, Gives Coach Haynes His First Victory
A late 42-yard touchdown pass from Colin Reardon to Chris Humphrey helped Kent State escape a scare with a 17-10 victory over Liberty in Thursday night's season opener at Dix Stadium.
Just to add a little more misery to the frightening first night, the Golden Flashes played most of the game without Heisman Trophy hopeful Dri Archer, who suffered an ankle injury while running out of the Wildcat formation on the season's first drive.
Archer returned for one play later in the quarter before sitting out the rest of the way.
"Of course, we had certain plays for him," said Haynes. "When you don't have a guy like Dri out there, for a lot of reasons you have to change things up a little."
In Archer's place, Reardon, Humphrey and Trayion Durham led a fourth-quarter comeback from a 10-7 deficit. Cornerback Darius Polk secured the win by defending three consecutive passes as the Flames marched into Kent State territory in the final minutes.
A 39-yard field goal by Anthony Melchiori, the first of his career, tied the game at 10-10 with 10:57 to play.
The game-winner arrived with just 4:28 remaining when Reardon found Humprhey near the 35-yard line near the Kent State sideline. The junior wide receiver shed a Liberty tackle and raced into the end zone for his first career touchdown.
Reardon completed 21-of-28 passes for 194 yards and two scores while playing in his first game as a redshirt freshman.
"When you have your first start as a young kid, and you are able to drive the team down there for a win … that's a good start," said Haynes. "The (game) wasn't pretty, but a win is a win."
Durham helped to make up for the loss of Archer with 92 yards on 21 carries, picking up some tough inside yards to extend late drives. Humphrey added 88 yards on six catches, while Tyshon Goode pulled in eight passes for another 75 yards. Goode saw his first action since 2011 after missing all of last year with a hamstring injury.
Liberty marched into Kent State territory in the final minute, but Flames quarterback Josh Woodrum watched his final three passes get batted away by Polk at the end.
Kent State scored first on a 14-play, 75-yard march that ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Reardon to tight end Casey Pierce. It was the first career touchdown for both players.
Liberty battled back behind a 20-yard second-quarter field goal by John Lunsford, then took the lead on a 11-yard touchdown pass from Woodrum to Gabe Henderson.
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