Kurtis Rourke (7) QB on Ohio Univeristy's football team looks downfield in Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio on Sept. 16, 2023. Photo by Joe Hallquist.

Meet the Flashes

Published October 5, 2023

Meet the Flashes

Ohio looks for Homecoming win over Kent State

By Bobby Gorbett | Sports Editor

Ohio (4-1,1-0 Mid-American Conference) couldn't possibly have more energy heading into Homecoming. After a Week 1 loss without Quarterback Kurtis Rouke, the Bobcats have won four straight games, including a road win against Florida Atlantic, a Power Five win over Iowa State and a dominant 31-point road win in the MAC opener against Bowling Green.

The Bobcats are coming off a week-long bye—which is rare for a MAC team in the age of MACtion—and should be plenty motivated against the only MAC team that beat them in 2022. In short, Ohio is perfectly set up for one of its best Homecoming football games in recent memory, all that's left is the product on the field.

Meanwhile, Kent State (1-4, 0-1 Mid-American Conference) has had a nightmare start to the season. Kent State's 1-4 record may seem bad against FBS opponents, but the true concern is the margin of defeat. The Golden Flashes have lost by 50 points against UCF, 22 against Arkansas, 43 against Fresno State, and 20 at home against Miami (OH). Kent State's tough start to the season is easily explicable, with some roster and coaching turnover in the offseason, but it doesn't bode well for it against Ohio.

Here's what to know about Kent State.

Head Coach

Kent State's first-year Head Coach, Kenni Burns is one of the younger coaches in the MAC at age 39. Coming from the PJ Fleck coaching tree, Burns helped lead Western Michigan and Minnesota to successful seasons as a running back coach. Burns was also the assistant head coach at Minnesota from 2019-22.


Michael Alaimo has been the only quarterback to see serious playing time in 2023 for the Golden Flashes. Transferring from Purdue, Alaimo has 56% completion, 763 yards passing,—just over 150 yards per game— one touchdown pass and three interceptions. Alaimo most recently completed 18-of-30 passing attempts for 170 yards in Kent State's 23-3 loss to Miami.

Running Back

Gavin Garcia has been the Golden Flashes' most consistent performer out of the running back room. Garcia has gained 359 yards on 87 carries over five games. Garcia ran for over 100 yards and had two touchdowns in Kent State's win over Central Connecticut State. Xavier Williams and Jaylen Thomas are the only other two Kent State players with over 10 carries. Although Thomas only has 16 carries, his 4.9 yards per carry shows effectiveness when called upon.


Chrishon McCray and Trell Harris are not the most experienced weapons for Kent State, but they may be the team's best. McCray, a redshirt freshman, leads the team in receptions with 19 and receiving yards with 234, so far. Harris, a sophomore, has 233 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.


Kent State Redshirt Senior Linebacker Devin Nicholson ranks in the top 10 in solo tackles in the MAC with 22. Nichols previously spent his time at Missouri before transferring to Kent State, where he immediately made an impact. Kent State D-Lineman CJ West has made his presence felt with a team-high in sacks (2) and tackles for losses (4). West is the only Golden Flash to force a fumble so far in 2023.

AUTHOR: Bobby Gorbett

EDITOR: Bobby Keegan

COPY EDITOR: Addie Hedges

PHOTOGRAPHY: Joe Hallquist