Zips look to become Bowl eligible in season finale in Athens

By Jake Allen, Sports Editor

The University of Akron men’s football team looks to finish the regular season at .500 and become eligible to play in a postseason Bowl Game for the second straight season when the team travels south to play the Ohio Bobcats on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Akron enters play with a 5-6 record after losing its last three games all to conference opponents. The Bobcats are 7-4 on the season and 5-2 in MAC play. Ohio will clinch the Mid-American Conference-East Division title if it can beat the Zips, and it will then head to Detroit for the MAC Championship game on Dec. 2.

Following their Potato Bowl win last season, the Zips will look to get to a second straight Bowl Game for the first time in school history. Unfortunately, they may need to do that without their first two quarterbacks in juniors Thomas Woodson and Tra’von Chapman, who were both injured in the game versus Bowling Green on Nov. 9.

The team could look to wide receiver turned quarterback Tyrell Goodman, who replaced Chapman against Bowling Green. Goodman threw for 139 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions in relief duties.

Despite questions at quarterback, the Zips still have plenty of receiving options. Wide receiver Jerome Lane ranks fourth in the MAC with 963 receiving yards, while pulling in 58 passes and scoring six times. Jojo Natson has excelled as well, catch 56 passes for 792 yards and 10 touchdown catches, while also returning two punts for touchdowns.

Sophomore linebacker Ulysees Gilbert leads the team with 117 tackles, four sacks, and 11.5 tackles for loss, while cornerback Kyron Brown leads the way with three interceptions.

The Bobcats have used two quarterbacks this season, but will likely roll with freshman Quinton Maxwell (Rayville, Missouri). Maxwell has passed for 1,083 yards this season with eight touchdowns and four interceptions, while rushing for 159 yards on 58 carries.

Ohio’s rushing attack is led by junior Dorian Brown. The Pittsburgh native has carried the ball 126 times for 747 yards, which is an impressive 5.9 yards per carry. Brown has scored four touchdowns on the season.

The Bobcats’ receivers are led by senior Sebastian Smith, who has amassed 795 yards on 47 catches with four scores. The team also relies heavily on Papi White, who does it all. White has 199 rushing yards, 461 receiving yards, and 29 punt return yards, while scoring seven times in total. Finally, Jordan Reid has added 38 catches for 409 yards and three touchdowns.

This is a huge game for Ohio as the team looks to get back to the MAC Championship Game. The Bobcats last played in the game in 2011 when they fell to Northern Illinois, 23-20. If the Zips win and Miami beats Ball State, then the Redhawks will make it for the first time since 2010, when they beat Northern Illinois.

Also, for the first time since 2009 the Northern Illinois Huskies will not make it to the MAC Championship Game. That spot will go to the winner of Friday’s Western Michigan versus Toledo game.

The Zips have played in just two Bowl Games in their history. Beside last year’s Potato Bowl, the Zips lost to Memphis in the 2005 Motor City Bowl, 38-31.

Needless to say, that there will be a lot on the line on Tuesday night when the Zips look to upset the Bobcats in Athens. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Paden Stadium.