KENT, Ohio - Miami dominated the statistics, outgaining Kent State 552-250 in total offense and doubling up the Golden Flashes in first downs, but it was the home team that pulled out a 29-19 win in front of 15,235 at Dix Stadium.
The RedHawks (0-4) ran 91 plays to just 52 for Kent State, but Anthony Bowman returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown and the Golden Flashes forced five Miami turnovers to give Kent State back-to-back wins over Miami for the first time since winning three in a row from 1986-89.
"Our defense didn't play our best, but we played well when we had to," said Kent State head coach Doug Martin. "We got five takeaways and that was the difference in the game."
Bowman's return, the Golden Flashes' first kickoff for a return since Shaun Bayes raced 95 yards against Delaware State in 2007, came after Miami took a 3-0 lead on a 28-yard field goal by Trevor Cook on the RedHawks' first possession of the game. That was the first time Miami scored in the first quarter of a game since Nov. 4, 2008 and the first time they held a lead since Nov. 11, 2008.
A bad snap, the second in the game for Kent State, led freshman kicker Freddy Cortez to push his extra point attempt to the left. KSU led 6-3 with 4:34 left in the first quarter.
"We're continuing to find ways to make plays and win games on special teams," Martin said. "The kickoff return was absolutely huge and that's why we recruited Anthony Bowman. He did a great job there."
From there, Miami drove to the Kent State red zone, but Cobrani Mixon forced the first of three RedHawks fumbles and the Golden Flashes recovered at their own 5. The Golden Flashes then marched 95 yards on eight plays to take a 13-3 lead. Freshman running back Dri Archer capped the drive with a 28-yard touchdown run.
The drive was Kent State's longest since they defeated SE Missouri State, 33-12, in 2005.
Cortez, who was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts, added a pair of field goals to push the Golden Flashes' lead to 19-3 with 7:49 left in the first half.
Dysert, a redshirt freshman making his first career start, then led the RedHawks on a 12 play, 78-yard touchdown drive to cut KSU's lead to 19-10 at halftime. Dysert capped the scoring drive with a 9-yard toss to Jamal Rogers with just four seconds left in the half.
Dysert ended the game 31-of-53 passing for 337 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for a game-high 107 yards on 17 carries.
"I think Zac had a really good night," said first-year Miami head coach Michael Haywood. "He did some really good things and he threw the ball to key receivers and did a really nice job of scrambling out of the pocket. Also at the same time he did a nice job with the zone read."
Miami clawed its way back into the game in the second half, cutting the Golden Flashes' lead to 26-19 with 5:45 left to play. But, as the team did all night, Kent State responded when it needed to.
Archer returned Miami's kickoff 20 yards to the Kent State 39-yard line. Freshman quarterback Spencer Keith, who replaced starter Giorgio Morgan late in the third quarter, engineered a 9 play, 44-yard drive that chewed up 4 minutes, 14 seconds of game clock.
Jacquise Terry, who moved back to running back after a short stint at wide receiver, rushed seven straight times on the drive for 54 yards to set the Flashes up at the Miami 7. Terry rushed 15 times for a team-high 103 yards.
"It felt pretty good," said Terry about his first 100-yard rushing performance. "You know when you switch from receiver to running back, no matter how you feel you have to make plays."
Cortez ended the drive with a 34-yard field goal with just 1:19 left in the game.
"Freddy Cortez did a great job with the field goal kicking tonight, and the kickoffs, too," Martin said. "But that last field goal he hit was absolutely huge."
Kent State returns to action on Saturday when they travel to Baylor.