Elusive play-calling, agressive coaching strategies fuel Zips victory over rival Kent State

“Yes, the seniors showed terrific poise when it mattered most. Yes, sophomore Carlton Jackson earned his stripes by making just enough plays down the stretch. Yes, the Zips’ defense made the necessary plays, even after John Mackey – the defense’s heart and conscience – left the game after he injured his knee in the first quarter.”

Yes, the seniors showed terrific poise when it mattered most.

Yes, sophomore Carlton Jackson earned his stripes by making just enough plays down the stretch.

Yes, the Zips’ defense made the necessary plays, even after John Mackey – the defense’s heart and conscience – left the game after he injured his knee in the first quarter.

And yes, the Zips took advantage of Kent’s miscues.

But in Akron’s close 27-20 win over rival Kent State, the victory can be solely credited to a man who never checked in to the game.

Head coach J.D. Brookhart, who waited three and one-half games to open up the offense and 29 games to effectively hold a dual-threat quarterback in check for an entire game, pushed his team over the top Saturday.

Brookhart and offensive coordinator Joe Moorehead realized what they were doing in the first quarter was clearly not working.

The offense amassed 25 total yards in the game’s opening 29 minutes. He used the lethargic play-calling that has characterized the Zips’ offense so far this season.

The Golden Flashes’ defense applied constant pressure on Jackson — who couldn’t complete a pass to save his life.

The Zips countered with a more imaginative offense that allowed UA to take advantage of the Flashes aggressive front line.

And it worked.

They finally added a little flair to the attack in the final minute of the second quarter. The defense recovered an Edelman fumble at the Zips own 33-yard line.

Badly in need of a score, Moorehead called a semi-misdirection play where Jackson took the snap, faked a hand-off, rolled out right and threw back across the field, connecting with Dennis Kennedy for a 20-yard gain, almost double the output of the entire first half and tied the game 18 seconds before halftime.

Brookhart’s creativity exposed itself again in the fourth quarter and again led to a key score. After a Kent touchdown that cut UA’s lead to four points, Brookhart called for the kickoff to be caught by Jabari Arthur who lateraled a pass across the field to Bryan Williams.

It caught Kent off guard and was executed to perfection. Williams took the toss 54 yards to the opposing 26-yard line. The offense stalled (again) but the return was enough to set up a field goal that pushed the lead up a touchdown which sealed the win.

That’s 10 points that can be attributed to the coaching staff in a seven-point win.

The entire offense is learning on the fly, which is never pretty, and probably won’t be at any point this season.

But the coaching staff did its job when they put the offense in a situation where they could do just enough to win.

And yes, that is exactly what the Zips need.