Akron claims first victory of new era

Written by: D.J. Johnson

The feeling of victory is hard to forget.

On Saturday evening, the Zips got to experience that feeling again, almost a full year after their last victory, when they won against Virginia Military Institute.

The Zips did not just win, they trounced Morgan State, 66-6, in a game where they set or tied six team and two individual school records. First-year head coach Terry Bowden simply felt good.

“I’m so happy for our players,” Bowden said. “I wanted them to have a big win.”

A big win it was.

In his first victory as leading man of the Blue and Gold, Bowden saw his team rack up 753 yards of total offense, finish with 43 first downs, and complete 44 passes while not allowing the Bears to reach the end zone.

“We were a better football team than them, but I’m so proud of how we took advantage of that,” Bowden said.

The 66 points broke a school record nine years old (2003, 65 points vs. Howard), and their 565 passing yards broke the Mid-American Conference mark.

The majority of those passing yards went to Dalton Williams, who connected on 37 of 48 attempts for 446 yards and three touchdowns. In his third game as a Zips’ starter, Williams ousted Charlie Frye for the most completions in a
single game.

Five different receivers caught touchdown passes, running back Jawon Chisholm eclipsed the 100-yard mark (with 18 carries for 129 yards) and even backup quarterback Kyle Pohl tossed three touchdowns.

Despite all the success on offense, Bowden was quick to commend the eleven players on the other side of the ball.

“It was just total dominance by our defense,” Bowden said. “I actually had a dream this week that our school would not be known for its offense but for its fast defense.”

The high praises are deserved after Saturday’s performance. Akron’s defense limited the Bears to 200 yards of total offense, two of 16 on third downs, and nine completed passes (out of 27 attempts).

With Akron’s late fourth-quarter touchdown, a 29-yard fumble return by linebacker Nick Rossi, Akron’s defense scored as many points as Morgan State’s offense.

The Bears were shut out in the second half, as the Zips offense shined coming out of the locker room.

With the Zips ahead 21-6 going into the half, the combination of Williams and Pohl kick-started the Akron offense into the third quarter. A touchdown pass from each of the two quarterbacks and an 11-yard touchdown run by Conor Hundley fueled a 24-point quarter.

The momentum continued to build as Pohl threw for two more scores in the final quarter, capped off by Rossi’s fumble return to seal the record-setting day.

Marquelo Suel led the team with 99 receiving yards, and Andrew Pratt emerged in the second half with two touchdown catches. Jerrod Dillard, Dee Frieson, Tyrell Goodman and Rhyne Ladrach all joined Pratt with scoring receptions.

The win will be followed by a matchup on Saturday with the Tennessee Volunteers, who were previously ranked #23 in the country before losing to #18 Florida (37-20) this past Saturday.

“I’m thrilled that our players are going to go to Knoxville,” Bowden said.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.