AKRON, OHIO – Senior running back Jawon Chisholm rushed for 102 yards, and scored two touchdowns as the Akron Zips picked up their third consecutive win, defeating the Miami RedHawks, 29-19, Saturday afternoon at InfoCision Stadium.
Akron (4-2, 2-0 MAC) is off to its best start since 2000 and has won its first two Mid-American Conference games for the first time since 2007.mm
In addition, UA has won its last five MAC games dating back to last season as well as having a 3-1 record at home so far this season.
“Players believe they can win ball games right now.” Zips head coach Terry Bowden said after the game. “Once you get that type of mentality, you have a chance in every game and we are finding a way to win.” The victory was Bowden’s 150th as a head coach.
Akron’s special teams and defense combined to provide the game’s first points late in the first quarter
First, a 57-yard punt by junior Zach Paul pinned the ’Hawks at their own three yard line. Two plays later, MU quarterback Andrew Hendrix was pressured and threw the ball out of bounds. The officials deemed it to be intentional grounding, and since the penalty was in the end zone, the Zips earned a safety and a 2-0 lead.
The sack and the safety was credited to redshirt freshman Jerome Lane, who had a solid game as the free safety registered three tackles (all of them solo), two sacks and the hit that forced the safety.
When asked about the play, Lane said “I was going full speed coming hard off the ball, and I got a hold of him and he threw the ball away.”
The safety also provided Akron with a follow-up possession and good field position – something it would enjoy much of the day. After the free kick, UA started at the MU 47. Junior QB Kyle Pohl then used the short passing game to move Akron down to the 11 where the defense stiffened. Junior PK Robert Stein came on to boot a 28-yard field goal, extending the lead to 5-0.
As the second period began, the RedHawks offense again started a drive from deep in its own territory and was forced to punt the ball away. UA got possession on the Miami 47 and used six plays to score the game’s first touchdown. Chisholm ended the drive with a 10-yard run up the middle to make the score 12-0.
Hendrix managed to get the MU offense into high gear on the following possession. Starting at the 16, Miami used just six plays to cover the 84 yards for a touchdown. Hendrix connected with senior WR David Frazier over the middle for the score. However, some of the momentum from the touchdown was diffused when PK Kaleb Patterson missed he extra point, making the score 12-6.
Hendrix, who engineered MU’s thrilling come from behind victory last week at home against Massachusetts completed 24-of-41 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns against Akron. Frazier led all receivers in the contest with nine catches for 132 yards and a pair of scores.
The Zips responded with a 13-play drive as Pohl used the running of Chisholm, along with five short pass completions, to reach the ‘Hawks 15. However a sack by junior LB Joe Donlan pushed the ball back to the 46. Stein came onto the field and made a 46-yard field goal, his longest of the season, to increase the home team lead to 15-6.
Miami countered with a touchdown on its next drive. After Stein’s kickoff went out of bounds, Hendrix completed two passes that gained 38 yards. Later in the drive, he gained 21 yards on a quarterback draw, advancing the ball to the UA six. From there, he finished the seven-play drive by finding sophomore WR Rokeem Williams in the back left corner of the end zone for the score. Patterson’s PAT pulled the visitors within two at 15-13.
While that ended the first half scoring, there was still one more development to play out. On the final play of the half, Pohl was sacked by Bryson Albright. It was his final play of the day.
Fortunately for the Zips, who turned to redshirt freshman quarterback Tommy Woodson, most of the action for the final two quarters would be played in Miami territory.
After ending their first drive of the second half with a punt, the Zips capitalized on a Miami turnover when junior NG Cody Grice recovered a fumble at the visitors’ 32. From there, Akron used seven plays -- six of them on the ground -- to add a touchdown.
Grice, who recovered the fumble, finished the turn of events on a two-yard blast up the middle to make the score 22-13 in favor of Akron. The 284-pound Grice, who starts on UA’s defensive line, has recently been coming into games for short yardage and goal line punch. He scored two touchdowns in UA’s 21-10 win at Pittsburgh back on September 27th.
When asked about his score, Grice said “It feels great to contribute to the team anyway I can – offense or defense.”
One of the keys to the game was the UA defense.
On paper, the unit give up yards (412 to be exact) to Hendrix and the RedHawk offense. In addition to the earlier safety, the defense also came up with three key turnovers in the second half. There was the recovered fumble by Grice that led to his touchdown. Then in the fourth quarter, senior Rover back Bre’ Ford came up with an interception and senior LB C.J. Mizell recovered a Hendrix fumble. Add on a whopping nine sacks -- the most by a Zips defense since 2004 -- seven pass breakups and 10 tackles for loss.
In fact, of Miami’s final six possessions of the game, the RedHawks only had one rushing play.
With 6:16 left in the game, Woodson began to move the ball effectively. After gaining the ball when MU turned it over on downs at its own 49, Akron took just three plays to score.
Chisholm, who had been suffering with nagging injuries during the first part of this season, ended the drive with a 10-yard blast up the middle for his second score of the game to make the score 29-13.
Miami continued to battle and managed to get on the scoreboard again with its next possession. Starting from the MU nine-yard line, Hendrix needed just five plays to get into the end zone as he connected with Frazier for the second time in the game this from three-yards out to make it 29-19 with 3:08 remaining. A two-point PAT try failed.
That would be as close as Miami could get as the on-side kick was recovered by UA at the RedHawk 44. The offense got a first down then ran out the clock to give the Zips their first win over Miami at home since 2006 at the Rubber Bowl (24-13).
Both teams will be on the road next week. The Zips are at Ohio to face the Bobcats while Miami will play its fifth road game in six weeks as it heads to Northern Illinois.