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IMAGE: <p>Kent State football players are welcomed onto the field by fans gathered in the end zone at Dix Stadium.</p>

Kent State football players are welcomed onto the field by fans gathered in the end zone at Dix Stadium.

IMAGE: <p>Golden Flashes fans celebrate a touchdown.</p>

Golden Flashes fans celebrate a touchdown.

IMAGE: <p>Members of the Kent State Golden Flashes football team during a scrimmage game at Dix Stadium.</p>

Members of the Kent State Golden Flashes football team during a scrimmage game at Dix Stadium.

IMAGE: Flash "crowd surfs" in the student section during a football game at Dix Stadium.
Flash "crowd surfs" in the student section during a football game at Dix Stadium.
  • IMAGE: <p>Kent State football players are welcomed onto the field by fans gathered in the end zone at Dix Stadium.</p>
  • IMAGE: <p>Golden Flashes fans celebrate a touchdown.</p>
  • IMAGE: <p>Members of the Kent State Golden Flashes football team during a scrimmage game at Dix Stadium.</p>
  • IMAGE: Flash "crowd surfs" in the student section during a football game at Dix Stadium.

Flashes Host Towson in Season Opener Thursday Night

Kent State Athletics
After going 4-1 to close out the 2011 season, the Kent State football team is primed to pick up where it left off, returning most of its key players on both sides of the ball.

The Golden Flashes open their 2012 campaign against FCS power Towson Thursday under the lights at Dix Stadium.  As the current Golden Flashes look to make the program's first bowl appearance in 40 years, approximately 50 players from the last team to go bowling will be on hand as Kent State celebrates the 40th anniversary of its 1972 MAC Championship team.  

Facts In A Flash

  • Nine players on defense have made at least eight career starts, including junior tackle and 2010 MAC Defensive Player of the Year Roosevelt Nix.
  • Senior linebackers Luke Batton and C.J. Malauulu and junior safety Luke Wollet are also among last year's all-conference honorees on defense.
  • In conference-only games, Kent State finished first in the MAC in total defense, allowing 319.1 ypg.
  • Nine offensive players have made at least six career starts, led by two-time All-MAC selection and left tackle Brian Winters.  
  • Senior Spencer Keith was named the starting quarterback last week after a tightly contested, three-way battle with junior David Fisher and freshman Colin Reardon. In his final five games of 2011, Keith threw eight touchdowns with no interceptions. He ranks third among Kent State's career leaders in completions (549), passing yards (6,041) and touchdowns (33).
  • Sophomore tailback Trayion Durham ran for 376 yards and four touchdowns in the Flashes' last five games of 2011.
  • This season, the 250-pound Durham will be complemented by junior speedster Dri Archer, who sat out the 2011 season.
  • Last week, Winters, Nix and Batton were all named team captains. Batton follows in the footsteps of his father Ben Batton, who was a captain at Kent State in 1979 and a four-year letterwinner as a linebacker.
  • Blue Ribbon picked Kent State to finish second of seven teams in the MAC East Division, while the Flashes were selected to finish fourth in the East in the conference preseason poll.  
  • Senior Kicker Freddy Cortez ranks second among KSU's career leaders in field goals made with 37.

Flashes Against the CAA
Thursday marks Kent State's first meeting with Towson and sixth meeting against a program currently playing in the Colonial Athletic Association.  The Golden Flashes are 1-3 all-time against New Hampshire, dropping three games in the 1950s.  Most recently, Kent State defeated New Hampshire 34-7 in 2002 at Dix Stadium.  The Flashes have also taken on Delaware, falling to the Blue Hens in the 1954 Refrigerator Bowl 19-7.  

New Radio Agreement
This past summer, Kent State announced a partnership with 640 WHLO & iHeartRadio making the station the official home of the Kent State IMG Radio Network for football and men's basketball. Ty Linder will handle the play-by-play duties and is joined in the booth for the third year in a row by color analyst Rob Polinsky.  The new 640 WHLO iHeartRadio channel works on a PC, smart phone or tablet.

Television
Ten of Kent State's 12 games will be broadcast on either an ESPN affiliate, Comcast affiliate, SportsTime Ohio, CBS Sports Network or the BIG EAST Network.  Thursday's game can be seen on Comcast SportsNet Plus (Baltimore), ESPN3 and free on MAC-Sports.com.

Website, Twitter & YouTube
For Kent State football stories, statistics, photos, video and more, visit KentStateSports.com.  For daily football updates follow @ksuathletics on Twitter.  For an extensive video library visit the GoldenFlashesTV channel on YouTube.

The Coaches

  • In 2011, Darrell Hazell (Muskingum '86) went 5-7 in his first season as a head coach, tying for the second most wins in school history by a first-year coach. Hazell spent the previous seven seasons at Ohio State and is in the midst of his 27th season on the collegiate sidelines.
  • Rob Ambrose (Towson'93) earned the 2011 Eddie Robinson Award for FCS Coach of the Year after leading the Tigers to one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history. Now beginning his fourth season, Ambrose led Towson to a 9-2 regular season, a CAA title and an FCS playoff appearance one year after going 1-10 in 2010.

More on the CAA
Colonial Athletic Association teams have defeated FBS opponents nine times in the last five years, including a 2010 James Madison upset over No. 13 Virginia Tech. Current CAA members Delaware (2003), James Madison (2004), Richmond (2008) and Villanova (2009) have all won FCS national titles in the last nine years.  Before joining the MAC this season, Massachusetts was a member of the CAA.  The Minutemen made an FCS national title game appearance in 2006.

KSU Against FCS Teams
The Flashes have won their last 10 games against FCS teams, all of which have come at home.  Most recently Kent State thumped Murray State 41-10 to open their 2010 season.  The last FCS (I-AA) team to defeat Kent State was Youngstown State (26-20) in 2000, when Jon Heacock served as the Penguins' defensive coordinator.

Leading Tacklers Return
Kent State returns its top four tacklers (Batton, Malauulu, Calvin Tiggle, Wollet) and eight of its top nine tacklers (Jake Dooley, Sid Saulter, Nix, Darius Polk) from last year.

INTs Make the Difference
Since 2010, Kent State is 9-2 when quarterback Spencer Keith does not throw an interception.  Conversely, the Flashes have dropped 12 straight when Keith throws an interception.

Up Next
Kent State will get two extra days to prepare for Kentucky, who takes on its rival Louisville Saturday.  Sept. 8 will be the Flashes first road test of the season as they look for their first program win against an SEC opponent.

Defending Dix Stadium
For decades, Dix Stadium was not considered a place opponents feared, but that mentality has started to change over the last two years. Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Kent State has gone 8-4 at home.

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