Commentary

“When the backup punter’s name is being chanted in the locker room after a victory, you know it’s been a strange football game. According to University of Akron head coach J.D. Brookhart that’s what happened to senior Andy Hildreth after the Zips’ 42-35 win at Eastern Michigan.”

When the backup punter’s name is being chanted in the locker room after a victory, you know it’s been a strange football game.

According to University of Akron head coach J.D. Brookhart that’s what happened to senior Andy Hildreth after the Zips’ 42-35 win at Eastern Michigan.

Hildreth, who has served as the holder on the team’s extra point and field goal attempts for a good part of the last two seasons, saved the game for UA when Igor Ivelijic’s 26-yard, game-winning field goal was blocked. The ball bounced back into Hildreth’s hands and he ran for four yards for a first down at the 5-yard line.

Zips’ running back Dennis Kennedy – who rushed for a career-high 277 yards – scored the game-winning touchdown two plays later.

At what was probably his first-ever post-game news conference, Hildreth acknowledged he was simply in the right place at the right time.

Honestly, I just caught it and ran, he said. I had no idea what was going through my head.

The play turned what would have been a devastating, demoralizing loss into an uplifting win that catapulted the Zips into first place in the Mid-American Conference’s East Division – at least for now.

UA leapfrogged Bowling Green in the standings after the Falcons lost to Miami University, 27-20, on Saturday. The RedHawks came into the contest with no wins over a Football Bowl Subdivision school this season.

The Falcons committed nine penalties – many of which were personal fouls – for 101 yards in the loss.

How can you explain these two MAC games? Brookhart said it best in describing UA’s win,

I don’t know what else to say, but it’s the MAC, he said.

The Zips now have two consecutive bye weeks before hosting Toledo at the Rubber Bowl on Nov. 5.

The time off will certainly benefit the team before what Brookhart’s calling the second season – the last four games – begins. It also gives Zips’ fans the opportunity to recover from the emotional swings of the last three weeks and to dream of what might happen the rest of the way.

I know it’s early and a lot can and will happen between now and Nov. 13 when UA hosts the Buffalo Bulls for its final game at the Rubber Bowl, but how exciting would it be for the Zips to walk off their historic field for the last time in front of a packed crowd atop the MAC East standings?

One things for sure: In the MAC, anything’s possible.