Colin Reardon threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Chris Humphrey late in the fourth quarter as Kent State avoided a season-opening upset with a 17-10 win over Liberty on Thursday night.
The Golden Flashes, coming off the best season in school history, were without running back Dri Archer, being touted by the school as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate who suffered a leg injury early in the game. He had 10 yards on 3 carries.
Reardon, replacing a four-year starter who led Kent State to its first bowl appearance in 40 years, led a game-winning 88-yard drive. He hit Humphrey for his second touchdown pass with 4:28 to play.
The Flash defense stopped the Flames on downs at the Kent State 40 with just more than a minute to go.
Kent State had to overcome nine penalties in coach Paul Haynes' debut to run its regular-season winning streak to 11.