“The excitement level surrounding this year’s Akron-Kent State football game may be tempered due to the contest being scheduled at the start of Mid-American Conference play, but for seniors Jabari Arthur and Davanzo Tate, this year’s rivalry game is special.””
The excitement level surrounding this year’s Akron-Kent State football game may be tempered due to the contest being scheduled at the start of Mid-American Conference play, but for seniors Jabari Arthur and Davanzo Tate, this year’s rivalry game is special. It marks their last chance to secure the coveted Wagon Wheel.
This is a big game for us, Tate said. This is a game we’ll always remember. It is up to us seniors to get everybody else ready for the game and everybody else excited just how we are.
Arthur agreed with his senior teammate and said that UA’s seniors want to finish their involvement in the rivalry with a victory.
We’re just gonna try to go out the right way, Arthur said. This is our rival; the last opportunity we have against them. We’re just gonna try to make it special.
Akron will look to reclaim the Wagon Wheel and yearly bragging rights when the Zips (1-2) host the Golden Flashes (2-1) at noon Saturday at the Rubber Bowl in the 50th all-time meeting between the two neighboring universities. The Golden Flashes won 37-15 in 2006, behind a strong performance by quarterback Julian Edelman.
The Zips own a 27-20-2 advantage in the all-time series and have won eight of the last 10 meetings. Saturday’s game will mark the 37th battle for the Wagon Wheel. Kent State won the inaugural Wagon Wheel game in 1946 and holds a 19-16-1 advantage in contests where the Wagon Wheel was at stake.
After passing for two touchdowns and running for another last Saturday at Indiana, quarterback Carlton Jackson will make his first start for the Zips against Kent State, replacing incumbent starter Chris Jacquemain.
Zips head coach J.D. Brookhart said that Jackson showed against the Hoosiers that he is capable of making plays using his athletic ability.
I think what we saw during Indiana were the things we weren’t able to evaluate during practice like his ability to improvise and make some things happen, Brookhart said. He still needs to take care of the football better and improve his management of the game, which I think he will.
Brookhart said that Jacquemain will play a series in the second quarter just like Jackson did in the three games Jacquemain started.
Kent State at a glance
Kent State enters the game after defeating Delaware State 38-7 last Saturday in their home opener at Dix Stadium. The Golden Flashes defeated Iowa State on the road 23-14 Aug. 30 before losing at Kentucky 56-20 on Sept. 8.
The Golden Flashes offense is lead by junior quarterback Julian Edelman and redshirt sophomore running back Eugene Jarvis.
Brookhart said that this year’s Kent State’s offense is effective because it’s multifaceted.
They try to keep you off balance, UA’s fourth-year head coach said. They have their run game, they have their play action off of their run game and they get the quarterback his space. They are very diverse offensively.
Brookhart said that Edelman has a similar offensive style to Indiana quarterback Kellen Lewis, who led the Hoosiers’ offense with his arm and feet in their 41-24 defeat of the Zips last week.
I think Edelman is similar to Lewis, Brookhart said. He doesn’t run around you as much, but he makes you miss in open space.
He (Edelman) won a lot of ballgames for them last year.
The 6-foot, 198-pound quarterback was named a second team All-MAC selection in 2006 and was named Kent State’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Senior defensive rover John Mackey, one of the Zips who will look to shutdown Edelman and the Kent State offense, was named the MAC East Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. Mackey recorded a team-best 13 tackles, all of which were solo, against Indiana. The total was one shy of Mackey’s career high.
Saturday’s game will mark the Zips’ first game in Akron in 2007. The First Merit Patriot Bowl against Army was counted as a home game for the Zips.
Both Arthur and Tate are excited to be returning to the friendly environment of the Rubber Bowl and to have the crowd behind them.
We’ve been away (with) not many fans behind us on the road, Tate said. Now we get to have our fans behind us to help us out.
It’s always exciting to come home and have a crowd that’s gonna be behind you, Arthur added.