Akron Zips: Defense Dominates In Taking Home Wagon Wheel From Kent State

By Joseph Lisi
Rich Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Kent State Golden Flashes were confident and optimistic entering their matchup with their crosstown rival Akron Zips on Saturday. The Golden Flashes had won three straight contests against the Zips and were holding onto the Wagon Wheel trophy since the 2010 season. However, the Akron Zips’ defense asserted their will in handing the Golden Flashes the 16-7 defeat in InfoCision Stadium.

From the opening kickoff, Akron set the tone of the ballgame with its physical style of play. The Zips moved out in front 7-0 in the first quarter and relied on their stingy defense to carry them the rest of the way.

In the first half, the Zips were able to pressure freshman quarterback Colin Reardon into quick reads and poor decisions. Akron held Kent State to 159 total yards and forced two turnovers in holding a 10-7 halftime lead. The Zips’ defensive line was able to contain Reardon in the pocket and shut down the vertical passing game of the Golden Flashes.

In the second half, Akron’s secondary stepped up when their team needed them the most. Akron was able to force Kent State to methodically work down the field by holding the Golden Flashes to 4.5 yards per pass attempt. Three fourth-quarter interceptions by the Zips closed the door on any Kent State comeback attempt.

The Zips were able to contain the Golden Flashes wide receivers and star running back Dri Archer. Akron held Archer to 52 total rushing yards on seven carries and one reception for 0 yards. For the game, the Zips held Kent State to 300 total yards of offense (138 passing) and forced five turnovers in the victory.

The Zips were prepared mentally and physically for this ball game. Head coach Terry Bowden and the rest of his staff did an outstanding job of preparing their team for this heated rivalry. Defensive coordinator Chuck Amato was on fire all afternoon as his defensive play-calling confused the Kent State offense.

Linebacker Jatavis Brown was all over the field on Saturday. Brown finished with eight solo tackles and eight assists in leading the team with 16 total tackles. Defensive lineman C.J. James and Moses McCray consistently forced double-teams from the Golden Flashes’ offensive linemen, which allowed linebackers Brown and Justin March to roam free and make plays from sideline to sideline.

Saturday’s dominant performance has made it clear that the Zips have started to turn the corner under head coach Bowden. The Zips picked up their third win of the season  (3-7) and have an opportunity to win their next two ball games to close out the 2013 season.

It was only a matter of time before Bowden and his staff would work their magic. The future is shining upon the Akron Zips, and optimism has started to fill the air around campus. The Zips will enter a bye week before heading on the road to face conference opponent UMASS on Nov. 16.

Joseph Lisi is a writer for Rantsports.com, follow him on Twitter @GoForthe2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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