Akron football defeats Toledo

By Parker Perry, Sports Editor

The Akron football team finished their season Friday afternoon by defeating the Toledo Rockets, improving to 5-7 on the season and clinching their first non-losing conference record since the 2005 season. The Zips finished 4-4 in Mid-American Conference play. Akron won four of the last five games in the 2013 season, something that head coach Terry Bowden pointed to in his press conference after the game. He said that the momentum from the strong finish will help build the program even further during offseason workouts and recruits will take notice that Akron is a strong choice for their football career. football (18 of 23) In the game, Toledo was able to jump out to a 7-0 lead. Rocket quarterback Terrance Owens found Dwight Macon for a nine-yard touchdown in the first six minutes of the game. However, the Zips would fight back quickly. With the help of L.T. Smith’s 19-yard touchdown, the Zips and Rockets were tied at 7-7 at the end of the first quarter. The scoring continued in the second quarter. The Zips again fell behind after Toledo converted a field goal. But the Zips would head into halftime leading 17-10. The Zips scored a field goal of their own to follow Toledo and then, with less than a minute left in the half, Jawon Chisholm scored a two-yard touchdown. It was his eighth touchdown of the season. One of the troubles with Akron in recent years has been their lack of fight. When a team would fall behind they would often stay behind. It may have been quitting, but it also had to do with the losing culture that the program suffered from. Friday was an example of the new mindset that the football team has. Regardless of what the Rockets were able to accomplish, and regardless of what experts and people around the country thought the final score was going to be, Akron was the underdog. The Zips continued to fight through the adversity and was able to build their lead to two touchdowns in the third quarter, 24-10. The Akron defense played well throughout the first three quarters of the game. The Zips had only given up 212 yards in that time. However, in the fourth quarter things fell apart. They gave up 176 yards and two touchdowns. They were outplayed by the Toledo offense that recognized that if they did not start playing better they were going to be on the losing end of one of the bigger upsets of the MAC year. With six minutes to play in the game, the Rockets were down two touchdowns. The score was 31-17. Toledo scored the first touchdown on a drive that lasted just 49 seconds. A 19-yard pass to wide receiver Alonzo Russell and then a 27-yard catch by standout running back Bernard Reedy was enough to get them into the end zone. After the touchdown, the teams lined up for the extra point. Toledo, down by eight, had their try blocked  This meant that not only were the Rockets going to have to stop the Akron offense and score a touchdown, they also were going to have to convert a two-point conversion after that touchdown to tie the game. They were able to complete two out of the three. Akron gave up their possession rather quickly and Toledo marched down the field. On a 10 play, 56-yard drive, Toledo scored a touchdown with just a minute left to play. But they again failed to tack on the extra points. Owens’ pass was deflected out of the hands of his intended receiver and that sealed the game for the Zips. In the game, the Zips offense was productive. Quarterback Kyle Pohl finished the game completing 18 of his 29 passing attempts. He threw for 259 yards throughout the game and had three touchdowns. It was a strong finish to a good season by Pohl. The Zips coaching staff will hope that he takes the next step and is even better next year. The Zips finished their season tied for third in the Mid-American Conference East Division.