Last Saturday, the Akron Zips evened their record at 2-2 when they surprised the Pittsburgh Panthers 21-10. For UA, it was the Zips first non-conference road win since September, 2008 when they defeated Syracuse.
The Akron Blue and Gold had little time to bask in the glory of the victory as they know this Saturday starts Mid-American Conference play and the road to Ford Field in Detroit and the 2014 Marathon MAC Football Championship Game.
Both the Zips and the Eastern Michigan Eagles open conference play this Saturday at InfoCision Stadium. EMU (1-3) had the week off after the Eagles were blitzed the previous week at Michigan State, 73-14.
LAST TIME OUT:
The Zips picked up their first win over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent since 2006 when they defeated the Pitt Panthers 21-10 at Heinz Field.
Senior RB Connor Hundley rushed for a career best 148 yards as UA scored touchdowns in each of the final three quarters as Akron collected its first non-conference road win since 2008 (at Syracuse).
Junior QB Kyle Pohl completed 15-of-29 passes for 193 yards with an interception and a 52-yard touchdown pass to Mykel Traylor-Bennett to tie the score 7-7 just before halftime.
At the start of the third quarter, UA took the lead for good on a nine-play, 75-yard drive capped by junior Cody Grice, the starting defensive nose guard, taking the ball and scoring from one yard out to make the score 14-7.
On Pitt’s drive after the touchdown, an apparent six-pointer was negated by a holding penalty and Pitt had to settle for a field goal which closed the lead to 14-10.
The Zips then put the game away early in the fourth quarter with a 10-play, 70-yard drive capped again by Grice’s second TD of the game -- this one from two yards out.
Junior Zach D’Orazio led the receivers with six catches for 59 yards. Defensively, junior LB Jatavus Brown had 11 tackles (nine solo) with a sack. The work helped him earn MAC East Defensive Player of the Week honors. Sophomore CB DeAndre Scott sealed the game with an interception late in the fourth quarter.
ON THE YEAR:
As a team UA is averaging 378.8 yards per game on offense while scoring 20.5 points per game. Defensively the Zips are allowing 19.8 points per game (First in the MAC) and 379 total yards per game (third in the MAC)…Individually on the offense, Kyle Pohl is completing 53.4% of his passes (79/148) for 860 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. Conor Hundley leads the running game with 191 yards thanks to his 148 yard effort against Pitt – his first career 100 yard game…Zach D’ Orazio leads the receivers with 20 catches for 226 yards. Mykel Traylor Bennett leads with four touchdowns including one last Saturday… Defensively, Jatavus Brown leads with 30 total tackles (19 solo) with a sack, a pass breakup, and four tackles for losses…Senior DE Nmesoma Okafor leads the sack stat with 2.5 (ninth best in the MAC)…while sophomore DT Se’Von Pittman leads in tackles for loss with 4.5 (top ten in the MAC)…The Zips secondary has four interceptions, including one in each of the last three games…Junior P Zach Paul leads the MAC with a 46.3 yard average while Junior Imani Davis leads in punt returns averaging 6.9 yards per attempt
UA is 2-2 (first time since 2008)…It opened the 2014 season with a 41-0 shutout of Howard at home their second shutout since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1987. The Zips amassed 513 yards of total offense while holding the Bison to just 216…At Penn State, the Zips moved the ball on their first possession reaching the PSU 11 but failed to get any points. It would come back to haunt them as they played with the Nittany Lions on even terms for three quarters before the home team pulled away in the fourth quarter…They returned home and were totally outclassed by Marshal,l 48-17, as the Thundering Herd put 526 yards of total offense and 41 points before UA scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter…The Zips are completing a stretch of three games out of four at home -- the lone road tilt being the game at Pitt…Next Saturday, they face Miami at home before two crucial road tilts at Ball State & Ohio
NOTES & QUOTES:
After beginning his tenure at UA with a 2-17 record, Head Coach Terry Bowden is 6-3 over his last nine games (3-2 at InfoCision Stadium…Several Zips are moving up the career statistics list. Senior RB Jawon Chisholm, who returned to the lineup after a lower-body injury, had 15 yards against Pitt to move into fifth place on the all-time rushing list with 2,849 yards (just 12 yards behind fourth place Brandon Payne)…Junior QB Kyle Pohl had 193 yards passing in the win over the Panthers, giving him 3,660 yards for his career, seventh on the all-time list (just 285 yards behind sixth place Vernon Stewart)… Fifth year senior WR Keith Sconiers is tied for ninth place on the all-time list with 104…PK Robert Stein has made his last six field goals attempts and eight of his last nine dating back to last season. He connected on a 24-yarder in the loss to Marshall…The Zips are 6-16 in MAC openers (last win 2007 vs. Kent State at the Rubber Bowl 27-20)…This week is homecoming at UA (last year Zips lost to Ohio 43-3).
The game is the 32nd lifetime between the two schools with UA holding a 17-12 advantage winning three of the last four…15th lifetime meeting in Akron (Zips holding an 11-3 edge)…second at InfoCision Stadium (a 28-20 Zips win on November 28, 2009)…The Eagles won the last meeting between the two 31-23 at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti on October 1, 2011. Jawon Chisholm rushed for 122 yards with a touchdown. However EMU had RB Dominique White, who rushed for 164 yards and two scores
EASTERN MICHIGAN EAGLES (1-3)
LAST TIME OUT:
The Eagles lost to Michigan State 73-14. It was a game in which the nationally-ranked Spartans took control from the opening kickoff opening a 21-0 first quarter lead and never looking back. In fact, the score was 56-0 before EMU got on the scoreboard on a 43-yard touchdown pass from senior QB Rob Bolden to WR Tyler Allen. The Eagles final score was a nine-yard touchdown pass from Bolden to senior WR Tyreese Russell, The Eagles managed just 135 yards of total offense, led by Bolden, who completed 10-of-29 passes for 115 yards and two scores. Russell led the receivers with four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown while redshirt freshman RB Reginald Bell led the running game with just nine yards (EMU had 20 rushing yards the entire game). Defensively Junior LB Great Ibe, Sophomore DB DaQuan Pace, and sophomore LB Anthony Zappone had ten tackles each.
ON THE YEAR:
As a team, EMU is averaging 12.0 points and 216.5 yards per game offensively while defensively, the Eagles are allowing 45.8 points and 499.2 yards per game…Individually, EMU has used three quarterbacks over the first four games, Bolden, a transfer from LSU, got the start against the Spartans and is completing only 36.6 percent of his passes (15/41) for 132 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions…Senior RB Bronson Hill leads the running game with 199 yards on 47 carries with three touchdowns…Tyreese Russell leads the receivers with 13 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown…Defensively, Great Ibe leads with 43 tackles (26 solo) with 3.5 tackles for losses and a half-sack…In special teams, sophomore P Austin Barnes is averaging 44.6 yards per kick, junior PK Dylan Mulder is 2x3 on field goals and senior Tyler Allen leads in kick returns averaging 20.5 per attempt
There is a new leader in Ypsilanti in 2014 as Chris Creighton was hired as EMU’s 37th head coach. Creighton has had success at the lower levels --first at NAIA Ottawa College in Kansas and Division III Wabash College in Illinois prior to the FCS level at Drake. This is Creighton’s first crack at the FBS level…He began his EMU tenure with a 31-28 home win over Morgan State. However in two of the next three weeks, Creighton got a taste of what football is like against the Power Five Conferences as they were shutout at Florida 65-0 and routed at Michigan State 73-14. In between those games, they faced Old Dominion (in their first year in FBS with Conference USA) and fell 17-3…After the tilt with the Zips, the Eagles return home for three of the next four starting with Buffalo next Saturday
NOTES AND QUOTES:
Along with the hiring of Chris Creighton as the head coach, the big news in the off-season was the new turf at Rynearson Stadium. The playing field itself is gray…Eagles are facing the Zips in the MAC opener for the fifth time in their history since UA joined the league in 1992 they have split their previous four encounters (the last coming on 2011 in Ypsilanti)…EMU’s Vice President/Director of Athletics Heather Lyke received her doctorate from the University of Akron Law School in 1995…EMU defense has allowed 21 plays of 30 yards or better over the first four games (12 have gone for touchdowns)…EMU has 14 players from the State of Ohio, with six of them coming from the Northeast corner.