Last Saturday at InfoCision Stadium, the Akron Zips battled the elements and the Buffalo Bulls, emerging victorious, 42-21, for their third straight win. It marked the third in the Terry Bowden era that the Akron Blue and Gold has won three consecutive games. In addition, the victory made the Zips bowl eligible for the first time 2005.
Friday at home, the Zips go for a winning season and their fourth consecutive victory. In their way is the arch-rival the Kent State Golden Flashes who look to break a four-game losing streak and retain possession of the Wagon Wheel trophy
Here’s more on the two teams:
LAST TIME OUT:
The Zips collected their third consecutive victory last Saturday, defeating the Buffalo Bulls 42-21 at InfoCision Stadium. The victory made UA bowl eligible for the first time since 2005, it was the third time in the Terry Bowden era they had won three straight games, and it ended a two-game MAC losing streak at home.
Sophomore QB Thomas Woodson completed 17-of-30 passes for 258 yards with no interceptions, no sacks and tied a career high with four touchdown passes in the Zips 42-21 victory over Buffalo. All four TDs came in the first half.
Senior RB Donnell Alexander had a career day with 24 carries for 143 yards and a pair of scores. Senior WR Imani Davis had seven receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, senior LB Jatavis Brown had 12 total tackles (six solo) and a tackle for loss. On the day, the UA defense had three tackles for losses, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two interceptions (winning the turnover battle 3-0) along with seven pass breakups
The Zips opened the 2015 season losing to nationally ranked Oklahoma 41-3 in Norman on September 5th …Then in the home opener September 12, they fell to the Pittsburgh Panthers, 24-7. UA collected its first victory of the season in a 52-9 rout of FCS member Savannah State at home before defeating the Rajun Cajuns of Louisiana (Sun Belt) 35-14.
Akron opened MAC play on October 3 with a 14-12 home loss to Ohio…It then rebounded with a 47-21 win at Eastern Michigan before a 59-10 beating at Bowling Green… Central Michigan administered Akron’s last loss to date, with a 14-6 decision on Halloween. … The Zips ended the losing streak with a 17-13 win against UMass at Foxboro…The win at Miami on November 7th was UA’s fourth away from home in 2015, ending with a 4-2 mark…The win over UB made the Zips bowl eligible, ending a two-game MAC losing streak at home (improving the overall mark to 2-3) and elevating the season total six wins, the most since 2005
OFFENSE: UA is averaging 24.4 points and 363.6 yards per game
RUSHING: Conor Hundley 166 carries-785 yards nine touchdowns
PASSING: Thomas Woodson 137-259-10 1894 yards 15 touchdowns
RECEIVING: Imani Davis 46 receptions-593 yards three touchdowns
DEFENSE: The Zips are allowing 23.5 points and 346.1 yards per game
TACKLES: LB Jatavis Brown (45 solo-43 assists-88 total)
TACKLES FOR LOSSES: Brown 16-93 yards
SACKS: Brown 10 ½ - 80 yards
INTERCEPTIONS: CB DeAndre Scott 6-14
PASS BREAKUPS: Scott 8
PUNTING: Zach Paul 68-41.2 yards per kick (12 kicks 50 or more yards)
PLACE KICKING: Robert Stein 10-16 FG/32-34PAT (62 points)
KICK RETURNS: Van Edwards (KR) 19-20.8 yds avg A.J. Coney (PR) 15-5.0
QB Thomas Woodson was named MAC East Player of the Week for his performance against Buffalo…WR Imani Davis collected his first 100-yard receiving game of his career…RB Donnell Alexander registered his first 100-yard game as a Zip against UB (fourth of his career others were at Colorado State)…Alexander is the son of the late Derrick Thomas former All-America LB at Alabama and All-Pro with the Kansas City Chiefs…PK Robert Stein is second among place kicker scoring and fourth overall scoring with 250 career points…The game will be the final home game for 24 seniors (head coach Terry Bowden’s first class at UA)…At halftime former Zip QB Charlie Frye will have his name placed in the Ring of Honor
The game is the 58th in the series, which dates back to 1923. The Zips hold a 31-24 edge…Since the Wagon Wheel trophy was established in 1946 KSU holds the lead 23-20-1…This is the 35th game in Akron (UA holding a 23-9-2 mark) and the fourth at InfoCision Stadium with UA holding a 2-1 edge…LAST SEASON the two teams played the final game of the season in cold and snow , with the Golden Flashes taking a 27-24 victory as QB Colin Reardon hit WR Chris Humphrey with a five-yard touchdown pass with 60 seconds remaining. UA’s last win in the series came in 2013, 16-7
THE WAGON WHEEL TROPHY:
The trophy has been awarded to the winner since 1946..The wheel itself dates back to the middle 19th century…Legendary stories abound to the roots of the Wagon Wheel, the foremost was John Buchtel. The founder of Buchtel College (which later became the University of Akron) in the spring of 1870 was making a search for a site for the college when his wagon became stuck in the mud somewhere on the present site of Kent State. It remained embedded in the ground until it was found in 1902. The wheel eventually came into the possession of Raymond Manchester, the dean of Men at KSU in the 1940’s. He suggested the wheel become the prize of the football game between UA-KSU and had the wheel painted Blue and Gold.
CLOSE RIVALS, INDEED
The distance between the two schools is 11.6 miles along Ohio Route 59 the second shortest distance in the Football Bowl Subdivision (Rice and Houston is the closest at 6.1 miles)
KENT STATE GOLDEN FLASHES (3-8, 2-5 MAC EAST)
LAST TIME OUT;
The Golden Flashes were last in action on Wednesday November 18, when they lost to the Central Michigan Chippewas in the home finale at Dix Stadium 27-14. It was the fourth consecutive loss for KSU and fifth in the last six games…CMU opened a 17-3 first quarter lead, only to see the Flashes rebound with a pair of touchdowns and close to 20-14 at halftime.
In the second half, the wind and the weather closed in and there was just one more score. That came from the visitors from Mount Pleasant late in the third quarter…Redshirt freshman QB George Bollas got the start and completed just 2-of-10 passes for 11 yards. However he was the leading ground gainer in the contest with 54 yards on 11 carries (45 coming on KSU’s first touchdown drive in the second quarter)…WR Johnny Woods led the receivers with four catches for 32 yards and a score…Defensively, DB Nate Holley had 15 total tackles (nine solo)….Overall the KSU defense had three sacks, seven tackles for losses and four pass breakups
The Golden Flashes opened the 2015 season September 3-4 losing to the Fighting Illini of Illinois 52-3 at Champaign-Urbana…They rebounded the following week in the home opener dominating Delaware State 45-13, then lost a heartbreaker at Minnesota 10-7. The three point defeat was the smallest KSU has incurred against a Big Ten Conference opponent. A double overtime loss to Marshall at home, 36-29, ended the non-conference schedule at 1-3.
Kent State opened MAC play with a 20-14 win at home over Miami…After a 38-7 loss at nationally ranked Toledo, KSU rebounded with a 15-10 at UMass before being shut out by BGSU 48-0. Then came a heartbreaking loss at home to Buffalo where they squandered a 16-7 lead going into the fourth quarter before losing, 18-17…Kent State was shutout at Ohio 27-0 before the loss last week to the Chippewas
OFFENSE; KSU is averaging 14.3 points & 283.2 yards per game
RUSHING: Trayion Durham 120 carries-418 yards three touchdowns
PASSING: George Bollas 84-149- 6 564 yards two touchdown
RECEIVING: RB Raekwon James 27-242
DEFENSE: The Golden Flashes are allowing 26.6 points & 348.4 yards per game
TOTAL TACKLES: DB Nate Holley 70-55-125
TACKLES FOR LOSS: DL Terance Waugh 12-62 yards
SACKS: Waugh 9-54
INTERCEPTIONS:DB Demetrius Monday 6-108 yards
PUNTING: Anthony Melchiori 88– 41.3 avg. per kick
PLACE KICKING: Shane Hynes 7-11 FG / 13-13 PAT
KICK RETURNS: Raekwon James 20-20.4 yds per return
PUNT RETURNS: Ernest Calhoun 17-3.4 avg per return
The Flashes defense leads the MAC in sacks with 31 (17th in the Football Bowl Subdivision)…WR Antwan Dixon has had a least one catch of 30 or more yards in four straight games…DB Nate Holley is second in the MAC in tackles (125) and has had 15 or more stops in five of his last eight games…QB Colin Reardon’s touchdown pass to Johnny Woods was his 33rd career TD pass fourth on the all-time list…DB Demetrius Monday is tied for fourth in the FBS with six interceptions and has a pair of defensive touchdowns…RB Trayion Durham scored his 27th career touchdown against CMU.