A late fourth quarter interception from redshirt senior quarterback Drew Kummer ended Miami University's hopes of a comeback and handed Kent State University a 20-14 victory in the teams' Mid-American Conference opener Saturday.
Miami trailed 20-0 with 9:33 to play, but a 1-yard rushing touchdown from redshirt freshman Alonzo Smith and the extra point cut the Golden Flashes' lead to 20-7 with 5:36 on the clock.
On Kent State's next possession, redshirt junior defensive lineman JT Jones recovered a KSU fumble, setting up the RedHawks at their own 35-yard line.
Miami (1-4, 0-1 MAC) reached the KSU 6-yard line, and Kummer converted a critical fourth-and-2, setting up a 2-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman tight end Nate Becker. The extra point made it 20-14 with 3:15 left.
After forcing a quick three-and-out, Kummer led the MU offense into Kent State (2-3, 1-0 MAC) territory with less than two minutes to go.
However, the RedHawks' bid for a come-from-behind win promptly ended when KSU sophomore linebacker James Alexander hit Kummer as he released a risky pass into traffic. Freshman safety Juantez McRae picked off the ball with 1:02 left in the game. It was Kummer's fourth interception of the day.
"We thought we had plenty of time to still win the game," head coach Chuck Martin said. "We thought the offense could score - I was sure they could score."
In previous games, Martin cited the team's negative attitude as main contributor in losses. This time, it was different.
"Today was not mental," Martin said. "We were in it the whole time. We believed we were gonna win the game until the last stupid interception. We jammed the ball into coverage when we got a guy wide open. It has nothing to do with belief. We had belief on the sidelines the whole day."
MU outgained Kent State 416 to 350 in the fourth quarter after the Flashes held a 283 to 207 yard advantage through three quarters.
Kummer finished the game 19-for-48 with 315 yards and one TD after struggling to complete 7 of 21 passes for 106 yards in the first 45 minutes.
The Flashes led 6-0 after the first quarter on two redshirt freshman Shane Hynes field goals from 38 and 28 yards. In the second quarter, freshman receiver Antwan Dixon broke away on a reverse play and ran 75 yards to the end zone, giving Kent State a 13-0 lead at halftime.
"That's Kent State … they're gonna try to trick you," Martin said. "They tricked us with the reverse, and it's a play they scored on last week. It's a play we repped over and over, and we're not mentally disciplined enough and mentally tough enough to do the job and make the play we need to make there."
In the third quarter, KSU junior quarterback Colin Reardon connected with junior wideout Ernest Calhoun for a 44-yard touchdown.
"Our eyes were bad again, and we weren't disciplined," Martin said. "We got some new guys that haven't played a lot that hurt us."
After the game, Martin said his team had studied KSU's reverse and inside vertical plays all week but fell through on execution.
"That's how they got to 20 points. They should have had six points in the game," Martin said. "If we're gonna win games, we gotta defend those two plays better."
Redshirt freshman quarterback Gus Ragland picked up 75 yards on 14 carries, and redshirt junior Rokeem Williams and sophomore tight end Ryan Smith led in the air with five catches each.
Reardon finished 12-for-21 with 136 yards and a touchdown. His favorite target was Dixon, who notched 63 yards on six catches and 75 rushing yards on three carries. Fifth-year running back Traylon Durham collected 53 yards on 18 touches.
Miami continues MAC play at Ohio University for the Battle of the Bricks in Athens, Ohio Saturday.