“My goodness, it’s our game of the century.”
That quote came from a Kent State publicist prior to the school’s first football meeting with Penn State in 1965. As Ridge Riley ’32 wrote in The Football Letter the week after the Lions’ 21-6 win, a Pittsburgh newspaper reporter asked the publicist if the Golden Flashes’ upcoming game against the Nittany Lions would be their “game of the year.” The publicist replied that it was a little bigger than that.
It hasn’t been much of a series since, with all three meetings between the Lions and Golden Flashes won by Penn State by a combined 77-16. In what has to be one of the stranger statistics in the history of the program—and a good omen for the Lions this week—each of those meetings came after a Penn State loss. To wit:
Penn State 21, Kent State 6 ~ Nov. 6, 1965 ~ Beaver Stadium
In the midst of a roller coaster season that would end with a 5-5 record, the Lions lost at Cal on Halloween weekend before bouncing back a week later for a home win over Kent State. Senior halfback Don Kunit ’66 (above) carried 11 times for 76 yards, part of a Penn State rushing attack that totaled nearly 300 yards on the day.
Penn State 32, Kent State 10 ~ Sept. 20, 2003 ~ Beaver Stadium
It was a rough year all around for the Lions, who struggled to a 3-9 mark. Among those losses was an eight-point, mid-September loss at Nebraska. A week later, the Golden Flashes once again provided a reprieve. Alan Zemaitis ’11 had a 26-yard interception return and knocked down four other passes in the Penn State victory.
Penn State 24, Kent State 0 ~ Sept. 18, 2010 ~ Beaver Stadium
A week removed from a 24-3 humbling at Alabama, the Lions returned to their home field for another well-timed meeting with the Flashes. Derek Moye ’11, who caught his first NFL touchdown for the Steelers on Monday night, hauled in four passes for 87 yards in the win.
Kent State is back in Beaver Stadium this weekend. The Lions are coming off a frustrating loss to Central Florida.
Hope to see you Saturday.
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