he Akron Zips came up with possibly their biggest win of the 2016 season last week. After falling behind Ball State by 10-points, the Zips came roaring back, outscoring the Cards 28-8 the last 2 ½ quarters to register a 35-25. It was Akron’s fourth straight Mid-American Conference road win dating back to last season.
The victory kept the Zips in a first place tie with Ohio atop the Eastern Division as they begin the final four games of the season. All four will be night games, with the first coming Thursday night in Western New York against the Buffalo Bulls. Ball State catches a calendar break and will have extra time to prepare for a Nov. 1 matchup against No. 20 Western Michigan in Muncie.
UB enters Thursday riding a four-game losing streak after being routed last Saturday at Northern Illinois, 37-7. The Bulls are just 1-6 on the season and winless so far in their three MAC games.
Here’s more on the two teams . . .
LAST TIME OUT: Last Saturday Akron defeated the Ball State Cardinals, 35-25, at Schunemann Stadium in Muncie. It was UA’s first win over the Cardinals since 2004 and the first in the Hoosier State since 1999. Junior QB Thomas Woodson returned to the lineup after missing the last three games with an upper body injury, completing 27-of-40 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns.
The running game was spearheaded by sophomore Van Williams, who had a career day with 112 yards and a score. Fifth-year senior JoJo Natson had seven receptions for 109 yards and a third quarter touchdown that put UA in the lead for good. Junior WR Jerome Lane also had seven catches for 90 yards and a score, part of an offense that amassed 529 yards on the afternoon. The defense was led by LB Ulysses Gilbert who had 17 total tackles.
ZIPS SEASON TO DATE: The Zips went 2-2 in their non-conference schedule with a home win over Virginia Military to open the season and a road victory at Marshall. Their losses came on the road at nationally ranked Wisconsin and at home to Appalachian State. UA opened MAC play with a pair of wins first at Kent State then at home against Miami before being shut out by nationally ranked Western Michigan
OFFENSE: UA is averaging 32.6 points and 412.4 yards per game
RUSHING: Manny Morgan 65 carries – 345 yards
PASSING: Thomas Woodson 111-166-4 1585 yards 12 touchdowns
RECEIVING: JoJo Natson 45 receptions- 639 yards-eight touchdowns
DEFENSE: The Zips are allowing 33.4 points and 478 yards per game
TACKLES: Ulysses Gilbert (48-46-94)
TACKLES FOR LOSSES: Gilbert 8.5-34 yards
SACKS: Three with two
INTERCEPTIONS: Kyron Brown 2-34
PASS BREAKUPS: Larry Hope with six
PUNTING: Nick Gasser 35-38.5 average
PLACE KICKING: Tom O’ Leary 45 points (4-4 FG/ 33-36 PAT)
KICK RETURNS: Van Edwards 17-25.3
PUNT RETURNS: JoJo Natson 10-120 (TD)
ZIPS NOTES: UA IS 10-3 in their last 13 games dating back to last season and needs one win in their final four games to become bowl eligible for the second consecutive season…The offense had 529 total yards and seven big plays (over 20 yards) the most in a MAC game so far this season…Thomas Woodson moved into fifth place on the Zips all-time passing yard list with 4,593 yards and fourth in touchdowns with 36…RB Van Edwards had his first career 100 yard rushing game vs. BSU…DB Alvin Davis had a career best 15 tackles (12 coming in the first half)…at 5-3 it is the Zips best record after eight games sincer 2003
THE SERIES: The game is the 16th in the series with the Zips holding a 10-5 advantage…This is the ninth game to be played at UB Stadium in Amherst with the series tied 4-4 with UB winning the last four on their home turf…UA won the lat meeting in 2015 at InfioCision Stadium 42-21
LAST TIME OUT: The Bulls traveled to Northern Illinois and were routed by the Huskies, 37-7. It was UB’s fourth consecutive loss and third straight in MAC play. RB Jordan Johnson had 97 yards on the ground on 13 carries and scored UB’s lone touchdown in the second quarter. QB Tyree Jackson completed 25-of-41 passes for 203 yards but also threw four interceptions. The defense was led by LB Khalil Hodge, who had 11 tackles -- the fourth consecutive contest in which he has had 10 or more stops.
BULLS SEASON TO DATE: UB opened the 2016 season on September 2nd and were stunned at home by FCS member Albany along with road losses at Nevada and Boston College. The lone win so far this season has come against Army. The Bulls opened MAC play with home losses to Kent State and Ball State, despite having a 14-point lead on the Cardinals in the first half
OFFENSE: UB is averaging 14.9 points and 323.6 yards per game
RUSHING: Jordan Johnson 99 carries – 443 yards two touchdowns
PASSING: Tyree Jackson 123-225-6 1234 yds. seven touchdowns
RECEIVING: Mason Schreck 30 receptions-298 yards two touchdowns
DEFENSE: The Bulls are allowing 33.4 points and 444.6 yards per game
TACKLES: Khalil Hodge (38-43-81)
TACKLES FOR LOSSES: Brandon Crawford 6-38
SACKS: three with two
INTERCEPTIONS: four with one
PASS BREAKUPS: Boise Ross with six
PUNTING: Kyle Deneen 40-41.4 average per kick
PLACE KICKING: Adam Mitcheson 32 pts (7-11 FG/11-12 PAT)
KICK RETURNS: Johnathan Hawkins 12-162
PUNT RETURNS: Jamari Eiland 9-49
BUFFALO NOTES: The Bulls pass defense is fifth in the Football Bowl Subdivision allowing just 155.4 yards per game…RB Jordan Johnson moved into seventh place on the UB all-time rushing list with 1,615 yards…QB Tyree Jackson has accounted for 10 of UB’s 12 touchdowns so far this season…The opposition has scored on their first drives against the Bulls defense in six of the seven games so far this season