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Flag parade halts Redhawks
Southeast piles up 16 penalties in 33-12 loss to Kent State
KENT, Ohio -- Southeast Missouri State's maligned defense turned in one of its best performances in years Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately for the Redhawks, their offense could get virtually nothing going until late and they simply could not avoid the dreaded yellow flag.
So instead of possibly flirting with a major upset of a Division I-A team, Southeast was saddled with its second loss to begin the season as host Kent State prevailed 33-12.
"It's still a loss and it's disappointing," Southeast coach Tim Billings said. "But no doubt, there were some positives."
By far the most positive aspect of the game for Southeast was a defense that limited KSU to just 195 yards, which surely has to rank as one of the program's lowest yardage allowed figures in a long time.
Last year, Southeast allowed an average of 492.8 yards per game, and during this year's season-opening loss to Southern Illinois, the Redhawks gave up 545 yards.
"Considering the quality of football team we played, a Division I team, that's probably the best game the defense has played since I've been here," said Billings, in his sixth season at Southeast. "To hold them to 195 yards is pretty amazing."
Southeast's defense could really be held accountable for only one touchdown, the result of a 97-yard drive that was aided by two penalties that wiped out interceptions, including one that was returned for a TD by linebacker Tunde Agboke. The Redhawks were whistled for a facemask call on quarterback Michael Machen, who was throwing from the end zone.
The Golden Flashes (1-1) got their other two offensive touchdowns on drives that covered 38 and 29 yards. KSU had one defensive touchdown, kicked its field goal after taking over deep in Southeast territory and scored two points on an interception return following a Redhawks' TD.
"The defense has improved a lot from last year," said defensive end Edgar Jones, who according to unofficial pressbox statistics led Southeast with seven tackles and was credited with 2 1/2 of the Redhawks five sacks, with Jackson High School product Seth Harrell adding two sacks and making six tackles from his linebacker spot."We played good, but we could have been better. We had too many penalties."
Ah, those penalties. Southeast was whistled for 16 penalties worth 154 yards -- the teams combined for 30 penalties for 254 yards in the sloppy game -- and also had an offensive touchdown wiped out, freshman tailback Tim Holloman's 41-yarder early in the fourth quarter that was erased by illegal motion.
"All the penalties were really disappointing," Billings said.
Southeast's offense also didn't help matters, although the Redhawks were going up against the Mid-American Conference's top-ranked defense from last year.
The Redhawks had only 89 yards in the first half, which ended with KSU ahead 21-3. They finished with 295 yards, but Southeast quarterback Mike Haley, despite setting school records for passes attempted and completed -- he was 34 of 61 for 275 yards and a touchdown -- threw three interceptions, and his fumble after being sacked on a blindside hit was returned for a TD, although he was under heavy pressure much of the contest.
"We had way too many negative plays, too many turnovers," Haley said. "We had plenty of opportunities, we just couldn't capitalize."
In the first half alone, Southeast reached inside the KSU 25-yard line three times -- including the 3 and 4 -- but came away with only three points.
Southeast's offense also got to the KSU 13, 30 and 35 in the second half, but those drives resulted in just a field goal.
"We'll move the ball, but we're not consistent," Billings said. "We had too many negative plays, turnovers, sacks, penalties. But that's an excellent defense we played."
Strong-armed sophomore Machen, who completed 31 of 52 passes for 293 yards during a season-opening loss to Michigan State, was just 17 of 42 for only 136 yards against Southeast, but he did have two TDs in his second collegiate start.
"That's the evolution of a young quarterback," KSU coach Doug Martin said. "But I give Southeast Missouri all the credit in the world. They're going to be a good football team in their league."
Southeast could have put serious pressure on KSU early as, on the game's opening possession, the Redhawks drove to the Golden Flashes 4-yard line. But Haley was intercepted in the end zone.
KSU went ahead 7-0 late in the first quarter after taking over on the Southeast 38 following a short punt.
It became 14-0 with just under nine minutes left in the second quarter on a 97-yard drive that featured the two Southeast interceptions wiped out by penalties.
With just under eight minutes to go, KSU went up 21-0 on a defensive touchdown as Haley was stripped deep in his territory.
Late in the second period, Southeast's Mark Stolle recovered a fumbled punt at the KSU 7. But the Redhawks had to settle for Colin Schermann's 20-yard field goal at the 1:56 mark.
Schermann's 30-yard field goal early in the third quarter made it 21-6.
KSU scored on a 29-yard drive midway through the third period, making it 28-6.
Southeast finally got a TD that counted when Haley hit Samora Goodson from 18 yards out, making it 28-12 with 6:08 left in the game.
Southeast was going to kick the extra point, but a penalty on KSU moved the ball to near the 1. So the Redhawks went for two -- only to see KSU return an interception for two points of its own and a 30-12 lead. A late field goal after an interception ended the scoring.
"They just made more plays than we did," Billings said. "We just have to execute better, that's the bottom line."
KENT STATE 33, SOUTHEAST 12
K -- Shawn Lewis 14-yard pass from Michael Machen (Travis Mayle kick)
K -- Marcus Hill 17-yard pass from Machen (Mayle kick)
K -- Bruce Rice 8-yard fumble recovery (Mayle kick)
S -- Colin Schermann 20-yard field goal
S -- Schermann 30-yard field goal
K -- Jon Drager 29-yard field goal
S -- Samora Goodson 18-yard pass from Mike Haley (conversion failed)
K -- Andre Kirkland PAT return
K -- Mayle 38-yard field goal
RUSHING -- Southeast, John Radney 11-50; David Simonhoff 1-2; Elton Peterson 5-2; Brian Matthews 1-(-1); Tim Holloman 7-(-5); Mike Haley 7-(-28); Kent St., Tony Smith 5-10; Jerry Flowers 3-10; Tom Sitko 1-8; Shawn Lewis 1-5; Shawn Bayes 1-3; Greg Keys 4-2; Michael Machen 8-(-14).
PASSING -- Southeast, Haley 34-61-275-3; Kevin Ballatore 0-2-0-0; Kent St., Machen 17-42-136-1; Jon Brown 1-1-6-0; Derrick Bush 1-1-29-0.
RECEIVING -- Southeast, Radney 7-28; T.J. Milcic 5-68; Joseph Tuineau 5-64; Holloman 5-0; Matthews 3-37; Brandon Simpson 3-35; Jamel Oliver 2-13; Samora Goodson 1-18; Antonio Scaife 1-9; Seth McDowell 1-3; Peterson 1-0; Kent St., Jon Drager 4-40; Smith 4-19; Lewis 3-56; Marcus Hill 2-31; Bayes 2-20; Brian Bell 2-7; Jake Parsons 1-3; Flowers 1-(-5).