The weather was warmer and so were the Akron Zips back in mid-October. They had just defeated the Miami Redhawks for their third straight win and were in the battle for first place in the Mid-American Conference Eastern Division.
Since then, the Akron Blue and Gold have failed to win a game, and last week they were totally dominated by the Buffalo Bulls, 55-24 -- the third most points allowed since Terry Bowden became head coach.
With two games left, the Zips still have a couple strong incentives to turn things around. The first is improving on their record from a season ago (5-7, 4-4 MAC). The second is bowl eligibility. Both goals remain in play Tuesday night for the final regular-season home game at InfoCision Stadium. Akron hosts the Minutemen of Massachusetts, who come into their final road game of 2014 having won three of their last four contests.
Let’s take a look at the two teams.
LAST TIME OUT:
November 11th losing at Buffalo 55-24. The Zips dropped their fourth consecutive game after leading 7-0.
DeAndre Scott intercepted a Joe Licata pass and raced 37 yards for a touchdown just 23 seconds into the game. From that point on, it was all Buffalo as they opened a 27-10 lead at halftime and added two touchdowns in each of the final two periods.
UA got a third quarter touchdown from senior Cody Grice and a fourth quarter score from fellow senior RB Jawon Chisholm, along with a 33-yard Robert Stein field goal. However, it was way too little and far too late.
Collectively, UA managed just 229 yards of total offense, its lowest of the season. Junior QB Kyle Pohl completed just 15-of-29 passes for 128 yards. Redshirt freshman Thomas Woodson finished the game completing 4-of-6 passes for only 33 yards. Chisholm led the ground attach with 40 yards on 12 carries, while senior WR Tyler Williams had four catches for 37 yards. The defense was led by senior LB Justin March and junior LB Dylan Evans. Each had seven total tackles.
ON THE YEAR:
As a team UA is averaging 368.9 yards per game on offense while scoring 21.7 pts per game. Defensively, the Zips have given up 24.4 points per game (third in the MAC) and 380.3 total yards per game (also third in the MAC).
Individually, on the offense Kyle Pohl is completing 54.8 percent of his passes (165 of 301) for 1,721 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Junior RB Conor Hundley leads the ground attack with 463 yards on 86 carries with three touchdowns. Junior WR Zach D’Orazio leads the receivers with 47 catches for 496 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, junior LB Jatavis Brown leads the pack with 80 total tackles (54 solo) and also 10 tackles for loss. He and senior DE Nordly Capi tie for the lead with four sacks each.
The special teams are led by junior P Zack Paul who is averaging 43.4 yards per kick (third best in the MAC) while junior PK Robert Stein is a perfect 21-for-21 on PATs (only he and Ohio’s Josiah Yazdani have been perfect on PATs so far this season). He is 9-for-11 on field goals after connecting on a 33-yarder against UB
UA is 4-6 and have now lost four straight after a 4-2 start that included a win at Pittsburgh. The Zips are 3-2 at home. UA will finish the season next Tuesday when it takes the short trip on Ohio Route 59 to Kent State for the battle for the Wagon Wheel.
NOTES & QUOTES:
The game is the home finale for 26 seniors (including key contributors Jawon Chisholm, Martel Durant, Bre’ Ford, Justin March, D.J. Mizell, Keith Sconiers, L.T. Smith, Travis Switzer, and Devonte Morgan)…Several Zips are moving up the all-time charts…RB Jawon Chisholm will finish his Zips career in second place on the all-time rushing list (has 3,141 yards going into the UMass game)… WR Keith Sconiers moved into a tie for seventh place on the all-time reception list with 110…Kyle Pohl is in fourth place on the all-time yardage list with 4,521…Senior LB Jatavis Brown had a career high 16 total tackles against BGSU his third game of 2004 with 10 or more tackles…Brown’s two forced fumbles against the Falcons gives him the team lead with three…DeAndre Scotrt’s interception return for a touchdown was the first scored by the UA defense since Justin March’s 27-yard INT return for a score at Michigan September 14, 2013
The game is the third lifetime meeting between the two schools, with both teams registering a victory…In their meeting last year at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, the Zips came from behind for a 14-13 victory as Jawon Chisholm scored the winning touchdown on a 17-yard pass from Kyle Pohl midway through the fourth quarter. Chisholm had 72 yards on 10 carries while Pohl completed 20-of-33 passes for 208 yards the score to Chisholm and accounted for UA’s other score on a 10-yard run in the second quarter. The defense was led by Jatavis Brown, who had 13 total tackles.
MASSACHUSETTS MINUTEMEN (3-7, 3-3 MAC EAST)
LAST TIME OUT:
November 12, defeating Ball State at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst 24-10. The Minutemen rebounded from a heartbreaking loss at Toledo as they defeated the Cardinals on campus 24-10. Senior QB Blake Frohnapfel passed for 424 yards, completing 28-of-44 passes.
The ground game registered all three touchdowns, with Lorenzo Woodley leading the attack (87 yards on 19 carries). The receivers were led by junior Tajae Sharpe, who had another spectacular game with 13 catches for 239 yards. He was named MAC East Offensive Player of the Week.
The defense totally stopped BSU’s running game, holding senior RB Jahwon Edwards to just 36 yards on the evening.
Leading the defensive charge was junior LB Jovan Santos-Knox, who had 13 total tackles.
ON THE YEAR:
UMass is averaging 30.1 points and 448.8 yards per game offensively, while the defense has surrendered 32.5 points and 441 yards per game.
Individually, Blake Frohnapfel, a graduate student transfer from Marshall who had one year left of eligibility, took controls of the UMass offense. He leads the MAC in passing averaging 334.5 yards per game, completing 55.1 percent of his throws (241 of 437) for 3,345 yards with 23 touchdowns (No. 1 MAC) and 10 interceptions.
Sophomore Shadrach Abrokwah leads the ground game with 423 yards on 92 carries with seven touchdowns…Tajae Sharpe tops the receivers with 76 catches for 1,204 yards (both stats lead the MAC) with five touchdowns.
Defensively, LB Jovan Santos-Knox had 110 total tackles (39 solo) second in the MAC. Fellow LB Stanley Andre is fourth in the MAC with 100 total stops (30 solo)…On special teams, fifth year senior Brian McDonald is averaging 36.7 yards per punt, while PK Logan Laurent is 4-for-6 on field goals and 13-of-17 on PATs.
The Minutemen season in a nutshell -- five of the seven losses have been heartbreakers. UMass fell at Colorado by three, at Vanderbiult by three (with they missed a field goal at the end of the game), at Bowling Green by five in a shootout and at Miami by one. In the latter, they had the ball inside the MU five when time expired. There was also a seven point setback at Toledo where the Rockets scored the winning touchdown with 34 seconds remaining in regulation.
They only “one-sided” losses were to Boston College and at Penn State.
Their lone road win came at Kent State back on October 11, 40-17…UMass will finish their next-to-last season as a football-playing member of the MAC on November 28th when Buffalo comes to Gillette Stadium.
NOTES & QUOTES:
Blake Frohnapfel is the fastest quarterback in UMass history to reach 2,000 passing yards…UMass is sixth in the Football Bowl Subdivision, averaging 340.5 yards per game…Trey Seals had four total tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception in the win over BSU…Five of the seven UMass losses have come by a total of 19 points.