There are tough losses for football teams, and then there was Saturday's Kent State-Akron football game.
The Golden Flashes blew a 21-17 fourth quarter lead and fell in overtime, 30-27, at a packed Dix Stadium.
Kent State had the lead for much of the game and forced the Zips into four straight three and outs in the second half.
With just over four minutes left to play, the Zips punted again. Kent State returner Phil Garner, who recovered his own fumble on the Zips previous punt, fumbled the ball into the hands of the Zips, who took over at the Kent State 42.
From there, the Zips scored on a controversial touchdown in the corner of the end zone from Akron sophomore quarterback Chris Jacquemain to wide receiver Deryn Bowser that initially was ruled incomplete before video replay overturned the call. Akron led 24-21 with 1:23 left.
"It was no doubt in my mind that I made that catch," Bowser said. "It popped out at the last second, but I got it down."
But the game wasn't over.
In a game where Akron coach J.D. Brookhart said he gave himself a game ball for the "five heart attacks he had," he had never seen as many peaks and valleys in a game.
With Kent State facing fourth down and long with less than a minute to go in the game, senior quarterback Julian Edelman scrambled left, then right, then up the middle - eventually going 34 yards to the Akron 28.
"Truthfully, we shouldn't have been in that play, we had two bad balls before that," Edelman said. "The play came down to that, and I just read the blocks, some guys were blocking down field, some guys tried to get open and it just happened; it just happened."
With 8 seconds left junior kicker Nate Reed had his 32-yard field goal attempt tipped, but it still went through the uprights to take the game into overtime.
In overtime, the Flashes and Zips traded field goals and Akron, with its student section behind the end zone, made a field goal putting Kent State in a position to score to keep the game alive.
Kent State ran seven plays down to the six, but Reed pulled the game-tying field goal wide right, and the Zips hung on the Wagon Wheel for the second straight season.
"I didn't even see them do it," Edelman said of the post game celebration by Akron.
"These are the toughest losses, you know, when you lose in overtime," he continued. "When we lost last week by 20, we didn't sack our bats up and put our heads down, we kept playing hard. Losing a game like this, you just have to take a day to soak and think about it then we have to start thinking of next week."
Edelman had another great game, going 17-31 for 157 yards passing and carrying the ball 18 times for 129 yards.
Statistically, Kent State had the better game. The Flashes out gained the Zips 413-301 on offense.
The Flashes picked up 25 first downs to Akron's 15. Kent State sophomore defensive back Brian Lainhart picked off three Jacquemain passes.
In the Mid-American Conference standings though, Kent State falls the 1-5 overall and 0-2 in the conference while Akron goes to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
"We had a great game plan, it is a shame to go out there as well as we played and get that "L." It's just like every other game, we didn't make plays when we needed to. We made more plays than Akron but they made plays when they had to and we didn't, and that's what sums up this game," Edelman said.
One positive for the Flashes was the emergence of freshman receiver Kendrick Pressley, who caught eight passes for 57 yards in his first game with significant playing time.
"We felt like if we could get the ball in his hands that he could make some plays," Kent State coach Doug Martin said. "That's why the bubble screen usually went to him all day today."
His quarterback saw a lot of potential in him too.
"Kid stepped up, we gave him the ball and he made plays," Edelman said. "He takes pressure off the line, those little swing passes are just like pitches, and he picked up some yards for us. He was very, very useful. He made a big play on that third down; that was the biggest play. The kids going to be great, he is going to be real good for this team."
On the ground, sophomore running back Andre Flowers carried the ball 24 times for 93 yards and freshman running back Jacquise Terry carried the ball 10 times for 60 yards with his first career touchdown.
"Jacquise Terry's been playing quite a bit for us and is going to be a great back," Martin said. "He's special, he brings quite a bit to the table for us."
Junior running back Eugene Jarvis missed his third straight game with a high ankle sprain.
With Kent State's MAC East title hopes dwindling, the Flashes host Ohio next week, the Homecoming game.
After Saturday's tough loss, Edelman said the team couldn't give up.
"We can't just fold it in, let this season be like the history of the program," Edelman said. "We have to go out there and win some games. And we are going to. We are going to go out there and win some games."
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