The Big House was silent as the Akron Zips drove down to the Michigan Wolverines‘ two-yard line late in the fourth quarter, trailing 28-24. Akron head coach Terry Bowden was on fire all afternoon as the Zips had the Wolverines on their heels. However, on the last play of the game, Akron quarterback Kyle Pohl was pressured as his pass fell incomplete in the end zone to give the Wolverines the close victory.
As difficult as this loss was for Akron, the silver lining shows that greater accomplishments are on the horizon.
Akron came into this game riding a 27-game road losing streak, and most prognosticators thought that this would not be a close contest. When Bowden took over in 2012, Akron had an overall record in 2010 and 2011 of 2-22. In 2011, the Zips lost by an average of 28 points per game. However, during last season, Bowden started to work his magic. The Zips became competitive, losing six games by a total of 47 points (7.8 points per game).
On Saturday, Bowden and his staff had the Zips mentally and physically prepared for a battle. They had a great game plan offensively and defensively against the Wolverines. The Zips were able to rack up 418 total yards on the Wolverines defense with quarterback Pohl exploding for 311 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
On defense, defensive coordinator Chuck Amato used multiple looks to create pressure as the Zips forced four turnovers for the game. The emotion on both sides of the ball for the Zips was evident as the team battled back from a 21-10 deficit with 3:23 remaining in the third quarter.
Coach Bowden has Akron on the verge of prosperity this season. It is only a matter of time before the close losses turn into victories. The wins will start piling up in bunches, and the resurrection of the program will be fulfilled. The players have bought into Bowden’s system, and the results are starting to come on the football field.
The receiving corps are the one of the strengths of the team this year. Junior wide receiver L.T. Smith burned the Wolverines’ secondary on Saturday for five receptions for 125 yards and 25 receiving yards per catch. Sophmore wide receiver Zach D’Orazio added six receptions for 95 yards and one touchdown.
The offensive line did a fantastic job in protecting Pohl all afternoon. They did not yield a sack and gave Pohl a perfect pocket to hit big plays on the Wolverines’ secondary.
To be able to challenge the no. 11 ranked Wolverines on the road in the Big House speaks volumes about how far the Zips have come since 2011. The team showed resiliency and heart as they battled all afternoon and overcame a late Wolverine touchdown in the fourth quarter to have an opportunity for the upset.
These are the signs that show that the foundation is in place for greater accomplishments for the 2013 season. The Zips will look to bounce back this Saturday at home in InfoCision Stadium against Louisiana.