University of Akron football: Zips break 21-game losing streak with 31-3 win over Bowling Green
University of Akron football coach Tom Arth got consistent play for four quarters from his team, and that resulted in victory No. 1 after 17 attempts in his UA tenure.
The Zips received contributions from all three units on the way to a 31-3 win at InfoCision Stadium Saturday over Bowling Green to break their 21-game losing streak. The defense led the way, allowing the offense the comfort to work behind its running game.
“I know what we’ve had to endure and again, it’s not for everybody,” Arth said. “It is not for everybody. There aren’t very many people who can endure what we have to endure. It’s not going to get any easier. It’s not over – the hard times, the challenges … but what our players know is what it takes to overcome those obstacles, to overcome those obstacles and overcome those challenges."
Running back Teon Dollard (26 carries, 185 yards, two touchdowns) pounded the nail in the coffin with 11:34 to play when the Zips beat a cornerback blitz, leaving no one to tackle him as he dashed past the line of scrimmage and raced 50 yards for his second touchdown of the game. He also scored on a 9-yard run with 10:45 left in the third quarter.
It proved to be a stark turnaround from the prior week when Miami University throttled Dollard.
“It feels good,” Dollard said of the first win of the season and the turnaround. “Game planning is the key. The whole week we were just game planning on how we were going to run the ball.
“Coming into this game, we knew what we were going to do, had our minds right, focused, good energy,” he said. “O-linemen knew what they were ready to do and they had good pushes and everything and I just had to do what I had to do to get to the second level.”
This was not a game in which the Zips benefited from contributions by one unit. Despite giving up big plays on defense and special teams, those units — especially a defense keyed by linebacker Bubba Arslanian (16 tackles, sack, forced fumble) — answered with their own.
“Any time they get down in our red zone, we’re thinking field goal or take the ball away,” Arslanian said, “so that happened to be the case tonight and it worked out for us.
“Our defense did a really great job today. Our defensive line and [defensive backs] really played out of their butts.”
As Bowling Green opened the second half with a drive, the UA defense came up with an interception by A.J. Watts at the Zips 17, leading to Dollard’s first touchdown. The Falcons marched down the field once again on their next possession, only to have Arslanian force a fumble — recovered by UA's Corey Thomas — at the Zips 4-yard line.
Even special teams got in on the act. A muffed punt by the Falcons and recovered by wide receiver Gavin Blunt set up the Zips' first score, a 36-yard field goal by Cory Smigel.
Blunt added a more significant play at 3:46 of the second quarter when teammate Michiah Burton blocked a punt by Mason Lawler. Blunt scooped the ball up at the Falcons 7-yard line and took it into the end zone to give the Zips a 17-3 lead.
By any stretch, and Arth acknowledged it, the effort wasn’t perfect, but it's definitely a start.
Akron at Buffalo
Time: 2:30 p.m. Saturday
Radio: WHLO (640-AM)