Wagon Wheel rolls home

“After many of the Zips’ seniors spent the week leading up to University of Akron’s Mid-American Conference opener discussing the importance of this year’s Kent State-UA football game, they carried that momentum over to Saturday and made several game-changing plays in the Zips’ 27-20 victory against the Golden Flashes at the Rubber Bowl.”

After many of the Zips’ seniors spent the week leading up to University of Akron’s Mid-American Conference opener discussing the importance of this year’s Kent State-UA football game, they carried that momentum over to Saturday and made several game-changing plays in the Zips’ 27-20 victory against the Golden Flashes at the Rubber Bowl.

Senior wide receiver Jabari Arthur caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Carlton Jackson on the first play of the fourth quarter to tie the score at 17.

Senior cornerback Reggie Corner intercepted KSU quarterback Julian Edelman’s pass on the first play of Kent’s ensuing drive and returned it 43 yards to the Golden Flashes’ 2-yard line to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by redshirt sophomore Alex Allen that gave the Zips their first lead at 24-17.

Senior defensive back Davanzo Tate secured the Wagon Wheel for the Zips by intercepting Edelman’s pass at UA’s 1-yardline as the game ended.

That was a rivalry football game, Zips head coach J.D. Brookhart said. That’s what it’s supposed to be about. You had two teams that played extremely hard.

Akron (2-2, 1-0 MAC) was not at full strength from the outset of the game, with offensive captain and starting center Mike Schepp and senior defensive lineman Nate Robinson unable to play due to injury. The Zips’ injury situation became even worse when senior leader and defensive rover John Mackey suffered a serious leg injury early in the game.

Brookhart said that he was proud of his team’s effort and persistence when faced with adversity.

These kids competed, they persisted without exception and they went through the highs and lows and continued to play their brand of football, Brookhart said. I couldn’t be more happy for them, especially for the seniors.

I know they wanted to get that Wagon Wheel back and they did.

The 50th meeting between the two rival schools was a defensive battle with momentum swaying back and forth throughout the contest.

Kent State (2-2, 0-1 MAC) scored first on a 5-yard touchdown run by running back Eugene Jarvis that was set up by a 44-yard pass from Edelman to wide receiver Aaron Robinson that moved the ball to UA’s 20 yard line.

Tate, who tackled Robinson after the big pass completion, said after the game that members of the Zips’ defense vowed not to allow any more big plays and to keep Kent’s offense at bay after the Golden Flashes’ first scoring drive.

After that play, we told each other we won’t give up another play like that as a defense, Tate said. We’re going rally around the offense and hold this together.

The Zips’ offense, which started out slowly, moved the ball effectively at the end of the first half after senior linebacker Brion Stokes recovered an Edelman fumble at Kent’s own 33-yard line. Jackson completed a 20-yard pass to running back Dennis Kennedy, before running for a 2-yard touchdown two plays later.

Zips place kicker Igor Iveljic arguably had his best performance of his young career in the conference opener. Iveljic converted a 22-yard field goal late in the third quarter and a 43-yard field goal in the fourth to cap the Zips’ scoring and give UA a seven-point lead at 27-20 with a little more than eight minutes left in the game.

Brookhart said that the continued development of a consistent kicking game is important as the team looks to build off of the win.

I think it’s big for the football team because it had been a question mark, Brookhart said. It’s different every game, but Igor’s proven himself. I think he’s 6-for-7 on the year on field goals, which is outstanding. I think he’s playing with confidence (and) he’s hitting the ball better.

Tate’s interception thwarted the Golden Flashes’ strong bid to tie the game at the end of regulation. Kent moved from its own 20-yard line with less than two minutes remaining in the game to the Akron 36-yard line before the interception.

Considering the strong performance of Akron’s defense the entire afternoon, Brookhart said that it was appropriate that the victory was secured with a defensive stand.

I was so proud of what the defense did throughout the game, UA’s fourth-year coach said. It’s very fitting that it ended that way.


” #1.1361794:2488328476.jpg:20070925_wagonwheel_pf.jpg:Following the 27-20 victory over Kent State, the Zips show off their prized trophy, the Wagon Wheel, after it spent a year at KSU.:Paul Ferrer”