By EVAN MEYER
Two teams coming off bitterly disappointing losses will face each other Wednesday in a battle of former co-leaders for their respective divisions. Visiting Toledo and host Akron are playing their third game within a span of 12 days, and each will be . . .
Toledo trails undefeated Western Michigan by one game and faces the Broncos in a regular season finale in Kalamazoo. Likewise, Akron wraps up its regular season at Ohio. The Bobcats moved into sole possession first place in the East by edging Toledo last week at the Glass Bowl.
Toledo, meanwhile, comes to Northeast Ohio after seeing its three-game MAC winning streak end last week at the hands of the Ohio Bobcats, 31-26. OU took a lead midway through the third quarter and held on for the victory. Combined with Akron’s loss, Ohio moved atop the East, while Toledo dropped a game behind Western Michigan.
Here is more on Wednesday’s match-up:
AKRON ZIPS (5-3, 3-2 MAC)
LAST TIME OUT: The Zips traveled to Western New York Thursday and were totally dominated by the Buffalo Bulls, 41-20, giving the home team its first MAC win of the season. UA had troubles all night offensively and, defensively, could not stop a UB rushing attack that provided 378 yards toward a total of 518 yards overall.
UA’s touchdowns came from senior JoJo Natson. The transfer from Utah State picked up his second punt return for a touchdown this season -- a 79-yarder just before halftime. Early in the fourth quarter, he and junior quarterback Thomas Woodson hooked up on a 33-yard pass for the score. Natson finished the evening with five catches for 53 yards. Woodson, who had trouble throwing the football on a wet and windy evening, completed just 18-of-42 passes for 178 yards and an interception, along with the score.
The defense was led by freshman DB Alvin Davis. He had eight total tackles (six of them solo), while fellow DB, sophomore Kyron Brown picked up his team-leading third interception of the season
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. After being shut out at home by nationally ranked Western Michigan, Akron picked up a victory at Ball State.
OFFENSE: UA is averaging 31.2 points and 400.6 yards per game
RUSHING: Van Williams 69 carries – 378 yards
PASSING: Thomas Woodson 129-208-6 1763 yards 16 touchdowns
RECEIVING: JoJo Natson 50 receptions-692 yards-nine touchdowns
DEFENSE: The Zips are allowing 34.2 points and 478 yards per game
TACKLES: Ulysses Gilbert (51-49-100)
TACKLES FOR LOSSES: Gilbert 8.5-34 yards
SACKS: Jamal Marcus 2.5 – eight yards
INTERCEPTIONS: Kyron Brown 3-68
PASS BREAKUPS: Larry Hope with six
PUNTING: Nick Gasser 41-37.7 average
PLACE KICKING: Tom O’ Leary 53points (6-6 FG/ 35-38 PAT)
KICK RETURNS: Van Edwards 18-24.9
PUNT RETURNS: JoJo Natson 10-120 (TD)
ZIPS NOTES: UA is 10-4 in their last 14 games dating back to last season and needs one win in its final three games to become bowl eligible for the second consecutive season…PK Tom O’Leary remains perfect on field goals in 2016, hitting a pair of three pointers that moved him to six-for six. … JoJo Natson’s second quarter punt return for a touchdown was his second on the season the other came at Wisconsin a 55-yarder…QB Thomas Woodson’s fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Natson gives him 37 for his career good for fourth on the all-time list and is fifth on UA’s all-time passing yardage list with 4,771 yards..The game with the Rockets is the Zips third and final encounter against the Western Division this season they are 1-1 in the previous two.
THE SERIES: The game is the 19th in the series between the two schools with the two teams splitting the previous 18 at 9-9…UA has won three of its last four meetings, including its last encounter in November, 2013 at InfoCision Stadium, 31-29…It is the 12th lifetime game in Akron, with UA holding a 7-4 edge
LAST TIME OUT: The Rockets saw their three-game winning streak come to an end Thursday night at the hands of the Ohio Bobcats, 31-26, at the Glass Bowl.
After a scoreless first quarter, the visitors from Athens opened a 14-6 halftime lead. It was 24-20 after three before RB Dorian Brown’s 51- yard touchdown run proved to be the margin of difference.
UT was led offensively by QB Logan Woodside, who completed 32-of-46 passes for 438 yards and three touchdowns. WR Corey Jones led the receivers with seven catches for 115 yards and a score, while the defense was paced by DeJuan Rogers. He registered10 total tackles (nine solo).
ROCKETS SEASON TO DATE: Beginning their first full campaign under head coach Jason Candle, UT opened the 2016 season by going 3-1 in non-conference play. UT opened with a road win at Arkansas State, then added home victories over Maine and Fresno State before a shootout loss at BYU.
Toledo opened MAC play with a three-game winning streak. beginning at surprising Eastern Michigan. The Rockets followed with a home win over Bowling Green, retaining possession of the I-75 trophy, and added a second home win over Central Michigan before the setback to Ohio.
OFFENSE: UT is averaging 39.4 points and 544.1 yards per game
RUSHING: Kareem Hunt 167 carries – 790 yards five touchdowns
PASSING: Logan Woodside 184-259-5 2715 yds. 31 touchdowns
RECEIVING: Corey Jones 46 receptions- 563 yards five touchdowns
DEFENSE: The Rockets are allowing 23.5 points and 377 yards per game
TACKLES: DaJuan Rogers (32-17-49)
TACKLES FOR LOSSES: John Stepec 10.5 – 36 yards
SACKS: Trayvon Hester 5-28
INTERCEPTIONS: three with one
PASS BREAKUPS: Kadar Hollman with six
PUNTING: Nick Ellis 33-42.7 yds. per kick
PLACE KICKING: Jameson Vest 59 pts (7-12 FG/38-39 PAT)
KICK RETURNS: Corey Jones 16-19.8 avg per return
PUNT RETURNS: Jones 13-78
TOLEDO NOTES: The game with the Zips starts of stretch of three road game in the final four for UT…The win over CMU made the Rockets bowl eligible for the seventh consecutive season and one of three current MAC teams to reach that mark (Western Michigan and Ohio are the others)…QB Logan Woodside leads the Football Bowl Subdivision with 31 touchdown passes so far this season…The loss to the Bobcats broke a 19-game home winning streak against Eastern Division opposition since an October, 2002 loss to Miami. Overall, it was their first loss to an East team since November, 2013 at Akron…UT leads the MAC in total offensive yards and passing yardage.