KENT, OHIO The 51st meeting between the Akron Zips and the Kent State Golden Flashes Saturday afternoon at Dix Stadium will be remembered as one of the most thrilling games in the long history of this series.
Zips Celebrate Wagon Wheel Victory / Photo: Jeff Harwell
Akron (3-3,1-1 MAC) picked up a 30-27 win in double overtime before 18,536 fans on a sunny, cool afternoon. A perfect day for football.
The visitors battled back from a 21-10 halftime deficit to take a 24-21 lead with 1:28 remaining in regulation. Kent State (1-5,0-2 MAC) then kicked a field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime.
Zips place kicker Igor Iveljic kicked a 28-yard field goal on the first possession of the second extra period to give Akron its fourth win in the last five games over Kent State, but its first win at Kent since 2004, along with retaining possession of the Wagon Wheel trophy.
I feel very fortunate to win this football game. That (Kent State) is a very good football team said Akron head coach J.D. Brookhart. We put ourselves in a hole and we had to fight our way out of it and we did.
Kent State coach Doug Martin remarked after the contest I was really proud of our football team. We battled, played hard, and just made some mistakes that cost us the game; the fumbled punt and the two missed field goals. One thing though, this team played with class.
The games fireworks began late in the fourth quarter.
With Kent State leading 21-17, Akron took possession when the Zips recovered a muffed punt at the Flashes' 42-yard line. The Zips moved the ball to the Flashes 24-yard line where they faced a fourth down-and-11 situation.
On fourth down quarterback Chris Jacquemain threw to wide receiver Deryn Bowser in the end zone. Bowser made a leaping catch over Kent State cornerback Rico Murray. The officials on the field ruled that Bowser did not have possession of the ball as he went out of the end zone.
The ball went over to Kent State with 1:28 remaining. Before the Golden Flashes offense were able to call a play however, Brookhart used his coaches challenge, indicating that Bowser did have possession and one foot down in the end zone, and the play should have been a touchdown.
The replay official in the press box reviewed the play and communicated to referee Ed Smith that Bowser did have possession and the foot in-bounds to make it a legal catch and a touchdown, giving Akron a 24-21 lead.
There was no doubt that I got my feet down and caught that ball, said Bowser who had five catches for 77 yards and the touchdown
Brookhart though was a little apprehensive. He remarked I had no idea. The whole bench came out in front of me, I couldnt tell. It looked like he had it. But I had to make, in my mind, a desperation decision to use that time out (the coaches challenge)
After the kickoff, the Zips defense held the Kent State offense to force a fourth down situation of its own with nine yards to go and the ball on their own 38-yard line. Senior quarterback Julian Edelman escaped the Akron pass rush and ran down the field for 34 yards and a first down at the Zips 26-yard line.
Edelman moved the Flashes offense to the Zips 15-yard line with five seconds remaining in regulation. Placekicker Nate Reed connected on a 32-yard field goal, which was partially blocked, but went through the uprights as time expired to tie the game 24-24 and sending the contest into overtime.
Akron opened the game strongly, taking the opening kickoff on their own 38 yard line and moving the ball 62 yards in just five plays as quarterback Chris Jacquemain found wide receiver Andre Jones all alone in the end zone from 29 yards away and a 7-0 lead.
Kent State would not dent the scoring column until midway through the first fifteen minutes when, after Akron recovered a Kent State fumble, Jacquemain gave the ball right back to the Flashes when his pass was intercepted by free safety Brian Lainhart returning it to the Akron 48-yard line.
From there the Flashes tied the game 7-7 with a nine play drive that traversed the 48 yards with Edelman finding freshman tight end Justin Thompson from a yard out.
|Akron's Deryn Bowser makes 4th quarter TD catch over KSU's Rico Murray
Photo: Tom Cammett
Before the period ended, Akron would regain the lead as senior Bryan Williams, one of the best kick returners in the MAC, took the kickoff 49 yards to the Kent State 41. Jacquemain and the offense moved the ball to the Flashes 16-yard line where the drive stalled and Iveljic connected on a 33-yard field goal to make it 10-7.
But no sooner than the Zips had the lead, then the Golden Flashes took it right back.
Gaining possession on their own 32-yard line after the kickoff, Edelman moved the offense 68 yards in 10 plays as he found senior split end Shawn Bayes in the end zone from 14 yards away to make it 14-10 Kent State.
The Flashes would extend that lead late in the period when Jacquemain threw his third interception of the half, all of them at the hands of Lainhart who snatched the tipped pass at the Zips 46-yard line. From there it took five plays with junior running back Jacquise Terry cashing in from one yard out to make the score 21-10 at halftime.
Akron came out of the locker room storming on both sides of the ball.
After holding the Flashes to a three-and-out, Akron gained possession on a punt at the Kent State 46-yard line. From there Jacquemain and the offense needed 10 plays to close the deficit to 21-17 as running back Dennis Kennedy scored the touchdown from one yard out.
The Zips defense then got the ball back holding Kent State on downs at their own 29 yard line but the offense failed to score.
As the third quarter became the fourth, Kent State drove the ball from their own 27-yard line to the Akron 10-yard line. But Reed missed a 27 yard field goal.
Little did anyone know at the time that the miss would come back to haunt the Golden Flashes.
The game became a field position battle until the Zips were forced to punt after a three-and-out.
Punter John Stec got the ball away but Kent State return man Phil Garner fumbled and linebacker Tyler Campbell recovered for Akron at the Kent State 42 yard line with 4:24 remaining in regulation.
Jacquemain moved the ball to the Kent State 24-yard line when he was faced with the fourth down play and the pass to Bowser.
After the reversal of the officials call by the replay booth, it gave Akron that 24-21 lead.
After the kickoff, Kent State had the ball on its own 37-yard line. The Zips defense held the Flashes to a fourth down and nine on their own 38-yard line. Edelman scrambled out of an intense Zips pass rush and ran for 34 yards down to the Akron 28 yard line.
The Flashes reached the Akron 12-yard line but Edelman lost three yards on a running play. It made the attempt a 32-yarder for Reed who connected sending the game into overtime.
Akron won the toss in overtime and elected to start the overtime session on defense. In the first overtime possession, The Flashes moved from the 25-yard line to the 17-yard line where the Zips defense stiffened and Reed connected on a 34-yard field goal to give Kent State a 27-24 lead.
On the Zips first possession in overtime, wide receiver Dashan Miller fumbled a handoff from Jacquemain and was tackled back on the 40. On third down, Jacquemain then hit Bowser for a 22-yard completion down to the 16 where Iveljic connected on a 32-yard field goal to make the score 27-27 after the first overtime.
The Zips had the ball first in the second overtime and got the ball to the Kent State eight where Iveljic hit a 25-yard three-pointer to give the Zips a 30-27 lead.
Kent State then took the ball and moved the to the 13-yard line, but a holding penalty moved the ball back to the 22-yard line where running back Jacquise Terry gained 16 yards getting the ball to the six-yard line. But Reed missed his 23-yard attempt and the Zips had the victory.
Jacquemain, a junior from Mentor, Ohio finished the game going 21-for-39 for 243 yards, two touchdowns and the three interceptions, but it was a game in two halves for him.
In the first half, he was just 7-for-15 for 107 yards with a touchdown and those three picks. However in the second half and overtime he was 14-for-24 for 136 yards and the touchdown to Bowser. But getting that touchdown on their first possession of the second half was crucial.
He remarked It was huge for us. We talked at halftime being down 21-10 and we needed to get some points on the board early to help out our defense. We had the short field and we went down and scored
When looking at the stats, Kent State outgained the Zips 413-301 and had three turnovers. They ran 89 plays from scrimmage compared to 68 for Akron. They dominated Akron on the ground 256-58 despite not having their star running back, Eugene Jarvis, who missed his third consecutive game with a high ankle sprain.
Martin said Statistically we dominated this football game in every phase, but we did last year as well, but we didnt get the win.
Last year at the Rubber Bowl, Kent State outgained the Zips 375-245 but Akron scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to get the 27-20 victory.
KSU quarterback Julian Edelman took control of the offense. The senior from Redwood City, California led all rushers with 113 yards on 18 carries. The second game this season he gained over 100 yards on the ground. In the air, he was 17-for-31 for 157 yards and two scores.
After the game, he was emphatic in saying This loss does not go on the coaches, it goes on the players.
He is a tough player. He is going to make a lot of good runs to get his team down the field. We had to stop him and to contain him said Zips linebacker Mike Thomas.
Brookhart added He is a great football player. I saw it too many times over the last two meetings, and glad I dont have to see it again.
One positive the Flashes can take out of this game was the play of freshman wide receiver Kendrick Pressley.
The native of Sumter, South Carolina transferred to Kent State from Virginia Tech and after checking his eligibility requirements, got his first game action against the Zips leading the Flashes with eight catches for 57 yards and also had three runs for 13 additional yards.
He was really good today. We wanted to use some four wide receiver sets so we made him the fourth wide receiver, and we kept it simple for him Martin remarked.
Akron ended a three-game MAC losing streak dating back to last year with the win and looks for its first home win next Saturday as the Bowling Green Falcons head into the Rubber Bowl while Kent State looks to end a stretch of 12 losses in their last 13 games as the Ohio Bobcats come into Dix Stadium.
NOTES:Brian Lainhart-KSU is the first Golden Flashes player with three interceptions in a game since Andy Logan vs. Bowling Green in 1988Justin Thompson & Jacquise Terry-KSU scored their first collegiate touchdownsThe win was Akrons third on the road this season the most since 2006 (three)Kent State is 1-5 lifetime in overtime while Akron is a perfect 3-0 (first ever overtime road game)In their head-to-head matchups, J.D. Brookhart is 4-1 lifetime against Doug MartinThe crowd of 18,536 was Kent States largest at home since September 30,2006 (22,013 vs. Akron)