September 20, 2008

Beat down in the Bayou

LAFAYETTE, Louisiana-- Turnovers and special teams plagued Kent State in the early part of the 2008 season. Saturday night at Cajun Field it was the Golden Flashes defense that led to a 44-27 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Ragin' Cajuns accumulated 667 yards of offense-414 on the ground and 253 through the air--but it was their big plays that made the difference. Kent State's defense allowed touchdowns on plays that covered 69, 55 and 47 yards and other big plays including a 64-yard punt return that set up another score in the loss.

"They did a really good job of mixing up their blocking schemes from zone schemes to trap schemes and they really hurt us with the trap," said Kent State head coach Doug Martin. "They did a really good job changing up the blocking schemes and that caused some of that. Some of it was missed tackles. We should be good enough on defense to not be giving up that many big plays."

Louisiana quarterback Michael Desormeaux and running back Tyrell Fenroy created many of those big plays. Desormeaux completed 15 of 22 passes for 253 yards and rushed for 150 yards and one score. Fenroy carried 23 times for a game-high 194 yards and three scores.

"They just made plays," said Kent State sophomore linebacker Cobrani Mixon, who recorded 13 tackles and forced a fumble in the game. "We gave them some seams. The running back's fast and he made us look bad."

Meanwhile, the Golden Flashes (1-3) again relied on quarterback Julian Edelman to create most of the team's offense. Edelman completed 10 of 20 passes for 82 yards and one score and rushed for a team-high 136 yards on 19 carries carries.

Louisiana-Lafayette entered the game ranked 117th in the country in rushing defense, but with Eugene Jarvis on the sidelines with an ankle injury, the Golden Flashes struggled to get much going on the ground.

"(They were) blitzing a lot and trying to make us throw the ball out on the edge a little bit, which we had a little bit of success doing," Martin said. "They probably came in with the plan of stopping Eugene Jarvis and then didn't have him, but they were going to take the running back out of the game."

Jarvis' replacement, sophomore Andre Flowers carried just five times in the first half but ended his day with 13 carries for 65 yards.

The Flashes struck first when they recovered a Louisiana fumble at the Ragin' Cajuns' 11-yard line on the first play of their second drive. Edelman scored on the next play and Nate Reed's extra point gave KSU a 7-0 lead with 11:20 remaining in the first quarter.

The Ragin' Cajuns responded with a Drew Edmiston 20-yard field goal and Fenroy scored on a 5-yard run to take a 10-7 lead with just 14 seconds left in the opening quarter.

Kent State pulled to within 14-10 when Edelman hit Shawn Bayes for a 42-yard touchdown with 5:58 left in the first half.

But Louisiana came right back with a 5-yard run by Desormeaux and Fenroy's big 69-yard run for a 23-14 halftime lead.

"The quarterback, he's a lot like Julian. He's really good at making people miss. The running back is a lot like Eugene, he's just really strong He can run through tackles too," Martin said. "We tried to move our front, that helped slow things down a little bit. When you start doing that all the time, if you don't get there, a couple times we ran blitzes and didn't get there and they made a big play after that."

Edelman opened the second half with a 6-yard touchdown run to cut Louisiana's lead to just 23-21, but again the Ragin' Cajuns made big plays to increase their lead.

First, Desormeaux hit Ladarius Green on a short pass, but a blown coverage led to a 55-yard touchdown and Jason Cherry bounced off three KSU defenders on a 47-yard run. Fenroy would later add his third touchdown of the day-a 1-yard run-to end the scoring for the Ragin' Cajuns.

Anthony Magazu would connect with Alan Vanderink on a 81-yard scoring play for the Golden Flashes, but by then the damage had been done.

"I just told the players and told them coming into this game, this was our last preseason game and now we start our real season which is the Mid-American Conference," Martin said. "We're getting ready to go play against one of the best quarterbacks in the country and one of the most dangerous offenses in the country and our defense has to rebound. Our offense has to get to where when we do play a game like this we can match people score for score and stay in the game. We did a great job of that coming into the second half and answering with a score to put it right back to a two point game or something. It was a great job by our offense but we didn't maintain it after that."

Kent State opens MAC play next Saturday with a road game at Ball State.

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