Akron dominates Kent, takes back Wagon Wheel

By Forrest Dukes

They came, they saw and they conquered the Wagon Wheel game.

The University of Akron (3-7, 2-4 MAC) hosted rival Kent State University (2-8, 1-4 MAC) for the 56th annual battle for the Wagon Wheel. And for the first time since Nov. 7, 2009, the Zips ran into the end zone cheering and grabbing onto the wheel seconds after the game concluded and the score gleamed 16-7, with the Zips as the winner.

“They came to bring the Wagon Wheel back,” Head Coach Terry Bowden said after the game.Zipsports (71 of 83)-r

“This is big for me to win for the seniors…and seeing them lift the wheel is unbelievable,” said quarterback Kyle Pohl.

The Zips came out fast and ready to play as they scored on their first possession. Going 78 yards with two plays, Zach D’Orazio caught the lateral from Pohl then threw it to the open L.T. Smith for the first touchdown of the game. A 45-yard pass from Pohl to wide receiver Fransohn Bickley set up the touchdown throw.

In all, the Zips recorded 304 total yards throughout the game and held possession for over 33 minutes. Akron also had 19 first downs and converted 47 percent of their third downs. The Flashes would have 300 total yards and possess the ball for seconds over 27 minutes.

Running back Jawon Chisholm also had another 100-plus rushing game, his second of the season, as he rushed for 151 yards on 27 carries. Pohl threw eight successful passes out of 19 and added 98 yards, while Bickley and Smith received balls from Pohl and ran 45 and 40 yards respectively .

On the defensive side of the field, the Zips were led in tackles by Jatavis Brown with 16 total tackles and a forced fumble. Malachi Freeman, Johnny Robinson, and Martel Durant each intercepted throws by Kent States’ Colin Reardon. Justin March contributed nine tackles for the game while C.J. James and Moses McCray added another five tackles each.

The game ball would to go to the Zips’ defense as a whole because they were all over the offense of Kent State, causing five costly turnovers, two fumbles and three interceptions, two of which were in the red zone of Akron’s end zone.

Kicker Robert Stein notched nine points to the Zips’ total score by making three field goals. His last kick went through the goal and extended the Zips’ lead by two points, with minutes left in the final quarter.

The Zips will spend this week on a bye and will follow up with a road trip to the University of Massachusetts on Nov. 16. The Zips will finish the 2013 season at home for Senior Night against the Toledo University Rockets the following week of the 23rd.

With this victory, the Zips have earned three or more wins for the first time since the 2009 season. Also, with the win, the overall series of the “Battle for the Wagon Wheel” is now 30-23-2, in Akron’s favor.