Inforcision Stadium, Akron, OH
Saturday, Sept. 12, 6 p.m.
By EVAN MEYER
The Akron Zips look to rebound from their opening game loss to nationally ranked Oklahoma last Saturday in Norman, 41-3. It was a the Zips were in for most of the first half before the Sooners, using their passing game rather than running, scored 21 unanswered points in the third quarter to break the game open.
The Zips will be challenged again this week, although the challenge is against a team UA defeated on the road last year. The Pitt Panthers, who defeated Youngstown State 45-37 last week, will be seeking to avenge last year’s Akron win at Pitt.
In addition to opening their seventh season in Infocision Stadium Saturday, the Blue and Gold will celebrate the 10th anniversary of their Mid-American Conference Championship team.
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LAST TIME OUT: The Zips opened the 2015 season losing to nationally ranked Oklahoma 41-3 last Saturday at Gaylord Family Stadium in Norman.
UA managed just 226 yards of total offense, with 138 coming on the ground. Sophomore QB Tra’Von Chapman led the ground attack with 48 yards on 14 carries, while senior RB Conor Hundley had 36 on only eight attempts. The passing game was virtually non-existent, despite UA using all three quarterbacks who made the trip. Senior QB Kyle Pohl got the start but only went 6-of-17 for only 88 yards. Chapman and sophomore Thomas Woodson also saw action, but they were a combined 0-for-9. Sophomore Jerone Lane, who is playing both as WR and DB led the receivers with three catches for 57 yards -- 42 of them coming on one reception.
Defensively, senior LB Dylan Evans had 13 total tackles (eight solo), while fellow seniors LB Jatavius Brown and DB Kris Given had seven tackles each. Brown registered the lone sack in the contest. UA did force a fumble and interception in the contest. However, it allowed 539 total yards, with 439 of them coming through the air. Baker Mayfield, a transfer from Texas Tech completed 23-of-33 passes for 388 yards and three touchdowns. RB Samaje Perine, coming off a 1700 yard rushing season a year ago, gained just 33 yards with a touchdown on the evening.
The special teams saw senior P Kyle Pohl kick 12 times for a 46.4 yard average, while senior PK Robert Stein missed a 21-yard field goal early in the second quarter, came back with a 26-yarder just before halftime for the Zips lone points of the contest.
Senior RB Donnell Alexander saw his first action in Akron Blue and Gold with 16 yards on seven carries. Alexander is a transfer from Colorado State whose father is the late Derrick Thomas of both Alabama and the Kansas City Chiefs..Zips are 3-3 in home openers at InfoCision Stadium winning the last two. However, their last “home” opening win over an FBS schools came in 2007, when they defeated Army 22-14 at First Energy Stadium in Cleveland…The loss at Oklahoma put the Zips 1-24 lifetime against nationally ranked teams. The lone win came in 2004 iover Marshall at the Rubber Bowl.
This is the fourth lifetime meeting between the two schools. The Panthers hold a 3-1 advantage, although UA recorded its win last year at Heinz Field, 21-10. It was also UA’s first win over an Atlantic Coast Conference team since it defeated North Carolina State in 2006 and first road and overall win over a Power five conference since the Zips beat Syracuse in 2008…This is the second meeting in Akron (first at InfoCision Stadium). The other came back in 1900 -- a 17-0 Akron loss.
PITTSBURGH PANTHERS (1-0)
LAST TIME OUT:
The Panthers opened the 2015 campaign with Pat Narduzzi as their new head coach and came away with a 45-37 win over the Youngstown State Penguins (Missouri Valley-FCS). The win was costly, however, as RB James Conner was lost for the season with an MCL injury. His replacement was freshman Quadrew Ollison who responded with 207 rushing yards and a 71-yard touchdown -- all in the second half. It was a day that saw 865 yards in total offense between the two teams…QB Chad Voytik only threw the ball 14 times, completing nine of them for 72 yards and a score. Senior LB Nicholas Grigsby led the defense with 10 total tackles (seven solo), along with two sacks and a pass breakup.
RB Quadrew OIllison’s 207 yards rushing is the most by a Panthers freshman in a season opener…Pitt is 30-4 lifetime against the MAC…Offensive line coach Jlhn Peterson was on coach Bowden’s staff at UA last season…Panthers are looking to go 2-0 for the eighth time since the 2000 season…Pitt has just 11 seniors on its roster, tied for sixth fewest in the FBS.