Senior Zips relish win, anticipate final home opener

“SYRACUSE, NY: Andre Jones stood behind a podium answering questions from a small group of reporters with his left arm around Chris Jacquemain and his right arm around Dennis Kennedy. Just moments before, the senior receiver and his offensive cohorts had emerged from a jubilant Zips locker room.”

SYRACUSE, NY: Andre Jones stood behind a podium answering questions from a small group of reporters with his left arm around Chris Jacquemain and his right arm around Dennis Kennedy. Just moments before, the senior receiver and his offensive cohorts had emerged from a jubilant Zips locker room.

The work that the team put in during the spring and fall camp produced results, and there is nobody happier than the players on the team.

That’s what we were hoping for, Jacquemain said of the balance in the team’s offense. We practiced hard in the off-season, in the summer and in camp. We wanted a balanced team, and we had a good week of preparation and we executed well today.

Execute well they did, scoring touchdowns on four of their first five drives. The Zips also converted 10-of-14 third down attempts.

Despite the team’s offensive effectiveness, I was most impressed with how the team handled adversity. The team’s impressive stats through the first three quarters meant nothing after Syracuse quarterback Cam Dantley found Nick Provo in the back of the end zone to tie the score at 28 early in the fourth quarter.

The momentum swung completely in favor of the Orange. The Carrier Dome came alive. I thought the worn-down Zips were done.

To my delight, the team proved me wrong. Jacquemain immediately guided the team on a 10-play, 78-yard touchdown drive to regain control of the game. Throughout the drive, Jacquemain made several adjustments at the line of scrimmage and seemed unfazed by the intense crowd noise echoing throughout the dome.

Kennedy has had an up-and-down career as a Zip. The senior was on the 2005 MAC Championship team and scored the winning touchdown at North Carolina State to give UA its first win over a BCS school in 2006. Last year he had a subpar season and saw his time as the team’s feature back diminish as Bryan Williams emerged as the team’s starter early in the season.

The win’s significance was not lost to the senior, who rushed for 89 yards and a score on 11 carries.

Right up there with NC State, or the biggest, Kennedy said when asked to compare the win to other notable games in his career. I don’t like to dwell on the past. It’s a new season and we’re moving ahead. We are very proud of the win. 

This Saturday, the Zips open Mid-American Conference play and host the Ball State Cardinals in the team’s home-opener. The Cardinals enter the contest undefeated at 2-0 and figure to battle Central Michigan for the top spot in the MAC West standings all-season long.

The game is shaping up to be another shootout, with both teams boasting a potent offensive attack.

Whether you’re a freshman that’s never attended a Zips’ football game or a senior who’s been a mainstay in the Rubber Bowl student section the past three seasons, you shouldn’t miss this game. It will be highly competitive and you could be the difference in helping the Zips start conference kick off with a marquee win.