Zips football looks to get back on track versus Ball State

By Jake Allen, Sports Editor

The University of Akron football team looks to rebound from its 41-0 loss against Western Michigan last game when it plays the Ball State Cardinals on Saturday.

Both teams enter the game with a 4-3 record, but the Zips have the advantage in conference record (2-1) over Ball State (1-2). The Cardinals only conference win was last Saturday, a 31-21 win over Buffalo.

The Zips are trying to get over an injury bug that has plagued many of their offensive skill players this season. Quarterback Thomas Woodson and running back Warren Ball haven’t played in any of the team’s conference games, and it will be a bonus if they can suit up on Saturday.

Tra’von Chapman will start at quarterback for the fourth straight game if Woodson can’t play. Chapman has been very up-and-down thus far, completing just 46 percent of his passes for 610 yards and seven total touchdowns. He has also committed five turnovers.

The previous two-headed monster at wide receiver position has quickly become a three-headed monster with the emergence of Austin Wolf. The three have combined for 95 catches, 1,448 yards, and 14 touchdowns through seven games.

The Zips could be in trouble Saturday if they again can’t stop the run. Akron has allowed over 200 yards to an individual runner twice this season, and they could be in trouble again against Ball State’s James Gilbert. Gilbert is fourth in the nation in both rushing yards and touchdowns this season (157 carries, 854 yards, ten touchdowns)

The Cardinals’ quarterback Riley Neal has had his struggles, however. Neal has completed 59 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Neal’s top receiver has been KeVonn Mabon, who has caught 42 passes for 499 yards. Surprisingly, Mabon has yet to catch a touchdown pass. Freshman Damon Hazelton Jr. leads the team with two touchdown catches.

Akron’s battle for the Mid-American Conference’s East Division remains tight after Ohio University lost to Eastern Michigan last Saturday. Both the Zips and Bobcats stand at 2-1 in conference play right now.

As expected, it should be Akron and Ohio fighting until the end of the season for the right to go to the MAC Championship Game, and it could come down to a late season game between the two teams on Nov. 22. The Bobcats travel to Kent on Saturday to play the Golden Flashes.
The Zips will need to focus on the Cardinals first. Game time is Saturday at 3 p.m. in Muncie, Indiana.