“KENT – It wasn’t pretty. It took two overtimes. But, the Wagon Wheel again rests in the lobby of the football office in Stile Field House, after the University of Akron defeated Kent State 30-27 Saturday at Dix Stadium. The Zips chances of retaining the coveted rivalry trophy seemed dim for most of the game, as UA spent the second half battling back from a 21-10 halftime deficit.””
KENT – It wasn’t pretty. It took two overtimes. But, the Wagon Wheel again rests in the lobby of the football office in Stile Field House, after the University of Akron defeated Kent State 30-27 Saturday at Dix Stadium.
The Zips chances of retaining the coveted rivalry trophy seemed dim for most of the game, as UA spent the second half battling back from a 21-10 halftime deficit.
Down 21-17 with less than five minutes in the game, the Zips (3-3, 1-1 MAC) were forced to punt the ball back to the Golden Flashes (1-5, 0-2 MAC).
The punt, however, would turn the game into one of the most memorable of the 51 meetings between the two neighborhood schools.
KSU’s Phil Garner muffed the John Stec punt, and UA’s Tyler Campbell recovered the ball at KSU’s 42-yard line.
I think it was a huge play in the game, without question, UA head coach J.D. Brookhart said. It gave us a short field, and in our minds, a little momentum because that was about after our fourth (consecutive) three-and-out.
The Zips drove to the Golden Flashes’ 24-yard line before facing fourth-and-11 with about a minute-and-a-half to go in the game. Junior quarterback Chris Jacquemain threw a pass to Deryn Bowser in the end zone. The pass was ruled incomplete.
As the Golden Flashes lined up for the start of their next offensive possession, Brookhart called a timeout, hoping the replay official would ask for the game-changing play to be reviewed during the break in play.
He did, and the play was ruled a completed pass. The Zips were suddenly ahead, 24-21.
UA’s defense looked to the shift in momentum to seal the victory on KSU’s ensuing possession, after forcing the Golden Flashes into fourth-and-nine from their own 38-yard line.
KSU senior quarterback Julian Edelman had other ideas.
Edelman, who Brookhart referred to as Houdini earlier in the week , evaded several Zips’ defenders while scrambling out of the pocket and rushed for 34 yards to UA’s 28-yard line. After moving the ball to the 15-yard line, Nate Reed kicked a 32-yard field goal to tie the game at 24 at the end of regulation.
The team’s traded field goals in the first overtime period. Reed first converted a 34-yard field goal that was tipped by the Zips defensive front. UA’s Igor Ivelijic countered by converting a 32-yard attempt.
The Zips moved the ball to the Golden Flashes’ 8-yard line, before having to settle for a 25-yard Ivelijic field goal to begin the second overtime.
KSU appeared to be on the verge of sending the game into a third overtime after Jacquise Terry rushed for 16 yards on third-and-19 to position Reed for a 23-yard field goal.
Reed’s attempt, however, sailed wide right, giving the Zips the win in the storied series’ first overtime contest.
UA was outgained 413-301 and managed 10 less first downs (15) than KSU in the win.
Both head coaches alluded to the statistical discrepancies after the game.
I feel very fortunate to have won that football game, Brookhart said. We put ourselves in a hole and we had to fight our way out. I give our kids credit for fighting their way out. I didn’t think we played great and we were able to win the game.
Fifth-year KSU head coach Doug Martin said costly mistakes in pivotal situations hurt his team.
We just made some mistakes down the line that cost us the game with the fumble on the punt return and the couple of missed field goals, Martin said. Obviously, statistically, we dominated this football game in every phase.
Jacquemain threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted three times by sophomore Brian Lainhart.
Edelman threw for 157 yards and two touchdowns and gained 113 yards rushing.
Bowser described what the win means for the entire team after participating in the rivalry for the first time.
That felt great, the junior wide receiver said. We preached on that all week. We did not want those players to come across the field and take the Wagon Wheel from us, and have to take that short, but long bus ride, back to campus.