Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum was lights out Friday night at Toyota Stadium with 436 yards of total offense led the Golden Flashes to a 51-41 win over the Utah State Aggies to be crowned Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl Champions. For Kent State, it marks their first-ever bowl win in program history.
Let’s see how it all went down at Toyota Stadium as Bowl season got underway!
The party got off to a fast start at Toyota Stadium on Friday night, with both teams scoring on their opening drives of the game. Utah State got to work first with a prolific ten-play 75-yard drive, as Jordan Love went four for four passing, and Gerold Bright capped off the drive with a 4 yard TD score.
The Golden Flashes of Kent State weren’t fazed at all. On his first pass of the game, NFL prospect Dustin Crum found Isaiah McKoy streaking free down the right sideline, as he dropped it right in the breadbasket for a 78-yard score.
This quick strike seemed to spark the entire Golden Flash bench, and their defense showed it on the field, forcing a quick three and out. Dustin Crum led Kent State downfield as Xaiver Williams capped the drive on a 2-yard score.
On the ensuing Aggies possession, Love was picked off after his receiver was hit on contact, and the ball popped up, and Manny Lawrence-Burke hauled in the pick for Kent State. The Golden Flashes capitalized on the turnover with a 40-yard field goal from Matthew Trickett to make it 17-7 with 2:50 left in the 1st quarter.
The Aggies were able to respond and end their drought on their next possession as they added a field goal of their own, coming from Dominik Eberle. After the Golden Flashes failed on a 4th down conversion in Aggie territory, Utah State got back to work. They followed their previous drive up with a game tieing touchdown as Love connected with Siaosi Mariner midway through the 2nd quarter.
As Kent State lined up for a punt on their ensuing possession, it looked as if the momentum had shifted back in favor of the Aggies. Then disaster struck, as Jordan Nathan fumbled the return, and Kent State’s Elvis Hines recovered it. Though the Golden Flashes weren’t able to punch this one into the endzone, they did cash in on the drive with a field goal and added another before the end of the half to take a 23-17 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, Kent State added to their lead, with a 4th field goal from Matthew Trickett. With the way the golden Flashes were scoring each drive, it was pertinent the Aggies get something going before the deficit stretched. They answered that call on their first drive of the half in the form of a 13 play 75-yard drive to make it a 2 point deficit with 7:52 left in the 3rd.
Utah State‘s defense followed that up with a forced turnover, which the offense turned into a 45-yard field goal from Eberle. This gave the Aggies a 27-26 lead with 2:27 left in the 3rd. Though, in the 4th quarter, the Golden Flashes threw some haymakers to regain their lead.
First, it was a 53-yard connection from Crum to Antwan Dixon to set up a 1st and goal. On the next play, Will Matthews took it straight in for a 4-yard score. Crum then added the 2-py conversion on a QB rush, and Kent State was leading 34-27.
Love and Utah State wasn’t about to go quietly. On their next possession, Love handed the ball off to Deven Thompkins who rushed to the edge and cut upfield down the sidelines 57 yards to the endzone as the Aggies knotted this one at 34.
Crum and Kent State answered right back as they marched 64 yards downfield for a score that came on a 1-yard pass from Crum to Dixon. This made it 41-34 Golden Flashes with 9:36 left to play. Then came the second haymaker of the 4th quarter for Kent State.
On a 1st and ten from their own 38-yard line, Aggies Gerold Bright met Kent State’s Zayin West face to face, and the result was a fumble. Alex Hoag recovered fro the Golden Flashes, and they immediately got to work milking the clock from the Aggie 44 yard line.
Kent State only moved the ball 24 yards on the drive and settled for another Trickett field goal. However, they also milked 3:50 off the clock as they extended their lead at 44-34.
With only 4:56 left to play, the Aggies needed to act fast to get back in this one. Love answered the initial call with a 75-yard touchdown drive that took just 1:50 off the clock.
Then it was time for head coach Gary Anderson and the Aggies to make a decision. Onsides, kick short or kick deep. They elected to kick short up the middle, and that did not fare well for them.
Kent State’s Jamal Parker fielded the ball at his own 41 and burst upfield. He split through the main group of defense, before finally being chased down at the Aggies 13 yard line. Then as if to take the life out of the Aggies, four rushes, and two Utah State timeouts later, Crum was running in for a four-yard score to put Kent State up 51-41, taking off just one minute from the clock.
Quick score yes, but with 1:56 left to play and the Aggies down by ten, it was at that moment the final punch had just been thrown. Utah State would finish their final drive with a three and out and turnover on downs.
Then as Dustin Crum stepped back after taking the ball from center one last time, he took a knee and solidified what became Kent State’s first-ever bowl win.
Crum finished the game 21 of 26, passing for 289 yards and 2 TDs. He also added 147 yards on 27 carries and a rushing TD to earn MVP Honors. His stable of receivers was paramount in their success, with nine different receivers getting in on the action, led by Isaiah McKoy and his six receptions for 103 yards and a score.
Written by Adrian Beecher