Zips drop Ball against Cardinals

“The University of Akron football team dropped the ball in its home-opener against the Ball State Cardinals Saturday. The Zips dropped several key passes to thwart promising drives in the 41-24 loss. A handful of those tipped passes landed in the hands of Ball State defenders, as the Cardinals intercepted four Chris Jacquemain passes to gain a decided advantage in the high-scoring contest.”

The University of Akron football team dropped the ball in its home-opener against the Ball State Cardinals Saturday. The Zips dropped several key passes to thwart promising drives in the 41-24 loss.

A handful of those tipped passes landed in the hands of Ball State defenders, as the Cardinals intercepted four Chris Jacquemain passes to gain a decided advantage in the high-scoring contest.

We did not operate today like we’re capable of, fifth-year UA head coach J.D. Brookhart said after the game. Wide receivers dropped balls and Jacquemain threw them behind. We moved the football, but you’re going to have to score 40 to 45 points to beat that team.

The Zips (1-2, 0-1 MAC) played the Cardinals (3-0, 1-0) competitively in the first half trailing 17-10 at intermission. On the first play of UA’s second drive of the third quarter, however, Jacquemain fumbled the football while being sacked. Ball State strong safety Sean Baker recovered the football and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown to put BSU ahead, 24-10.

I think the fumble was the one major play that shifted momentum in a big way, Brookhart said of the game’s pivotal play. Frankly, there were just way too many mistakes to have a chance to win against that good offense.

BSU took control of the game on its next offensive possession by driving 80 yards on seven plays to score another touchdown and take a commanding, three-score lead, 31-10. Junior tailback MiQuale Lewis capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown run for his second score of the game.

Sixth-year BSU head coach Brady Hoke said he was happy with his team’s performance in the win, but that it has plenty of room for improvement.

It was our first league game and we thought it was very important to get a win, Hoke said during his post-game news conference. Overall we played well, but we have a long way to go to be where we want to be. The win was a little ugly.

UA scored its touchdowns on a 5-yard touchdown run by redshirt junior Alex Allen, a 26-yard touchdown run by redshirt senior Andrew Johnson and a 13-yard touchdown pass from Jacquemain to senior Andre Jones.

Jacquemain completed 21 of 44 passes for 269 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions. Johnson led the team in rushing with 50 yards and a score on seven carries.

BSU rushed for 191 yards, compared to UA’s 119, and converted 9 of 16 third down attempts. The Zips converted 4 of 12.

Brookhart said the Zips’ defensive line competed, but continues to be decimated by injuries. The team’s fourth-string nose guard, freshman James Harvey, injured his hand during pre-game warm-ups.

We’re on our fifth nose guard, he said. It’s a frustration right now for all of us.

UA’s injured list continued to grow as the game progressed. Allen, the team’s starting tailback, suffered a frightening injury early in the third quarter. Allen had to be taken off the field on a stretche while immobilized. An injury report was not immediately available, but Allen did wave to the crowd and clap his hands while leaving the field on the stretcher and returned to the UA bench in the third quarter.

The Zips will travel to West Point, N.Y., Saturday, to face the Amy Black Knights. The game is set to kick-off at 1:00 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN Classic.