AKRON, Ohio – Three defensive takeaways along with 185 yards rushing from junior RB Teon Dollard (Lake City, Fla.) propelled the University of Akron football squad to a 31-3 victory over Bowling Green (0-5, 0-5 MAC) on Saturday, Dec. 5, at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field.
The triumph represented the 50th career coaching win for Zips’ head coach Tom Arth and first at Akron.
Dollard rushed for a game-high 185 yards on 26 carries for the Zips (1-4, 1-4 MAC), while redshirt freshman QB Zach Gibson (Alpharetta, Ga.) completed 9-of-17 passes for 87 yards, including one touchdown pass.
Freshman TE Tristian Brank (Asheville, N.C.), sophomore WR Michael Mathison (Covington, Ga.) and junior WR George Qualls, Jr. (Caruthersville, Md.) combined for eight catches for Akron totaling 32, 27 and 23 yards, respectively.
The Zips finished the contest with 282 total yards, including 195 yards rushing, while the Falcons recorded 295 total yards.
Redshirt junior LB Bubba Arslanian (Aurora, Ohio) directed Akron’s defensive efforts on the afternoon registering a season- and team-high 16 tackles, including garnering a career-best 11 solo stops. Sophomore CB Randy Cochran, Jr. (Doralville, Ga.) and senior DL Ja’Quize Cross (Buckhorn, Ala.) added seven and five tackles, respectively.
Redshirt sophomore WR Gavin Blunt (Aurora, Ohio) highlighted the Zips’ special team efforts on day recovering a blocked punt in the endzone for a touchdown as well as a fumble recovery in the opening quarter.
The Zips struck the first blow in the game as Blunt dove onto a Bowling Green fumble by Jake Rogers at the visitor 11-yard line off the Akron punt at the 12:51 mark of the opening quarter.
Four plays later, the Zips assumed a lead they didn’t relinquish on a 36-yard field goal from redshirt sophomore K Cory Smigel (North Royalton, Ohio) at the 10:20 mark.
The Falcons answered with a 16-play, 61-yard drive of their own to knot the score at three as Nate Needham kicked a 23-yard field goal with 2:12 left in the first quarter.
The Zips took the lead for good with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Gibson to Qualls, Jr. with 11:54 left before halftime. The scoring play capped a 10-play, 75-yard effort from Akron. Qualls caught passes of 10 and 12 yards on the drive, while Mathison pulled in a 19-yard pass from Gibson.
After the two sides exchanged drives, a heady play on special teams by Arslanian downed the Zips’ punt at the Bowling Green two-yard line.
Akron forced the Falcons into a punt where sophomore RB Michiah Burton (Columbus, Ohio) blocked the Mason Lawler attempt in the endzone and Blunt recovered the ball for the touchdown to extend the Zips’ lead to 17-3 with 3:38 remaining in the second quarter.
Each team posted 132 yards of offense in the opening half as Dollard paced the Zips on the ground with 58 yards, while Gibson passed for 57 yards.
Arslanian led Akron with six first-half tackles.
The Zips opened the second half with their first interception of the season as sophomore CB A.J. Watts (Columbus, Ga.) picked off Labronz Davis’ pass at the Akron 17-yard line returning the ball 44 yards to the Falcons’ 39-yard line at the 12:53 mark.
Four plays later, Dollard went on nine-yard rush into the endzone with 10:45 left in the quarter to extend Akron’s lead to 24-3. A 29-yard completion from Gibson to Brank highlighted the efforts on the drive.
A key sack by Arslanian with 12:37 left in the game on a 4th-and-7 play for Bowling Green on Akron’s 32-yard line, gave the Zips the ball on the 43-yard line.
On 2nd-and-10, Dollard rushed for 10 yards to the midfield stripe before breaking off a 50-yard run to the back of the endzone to push the Akron margin to 31-3 with 11:34 remaining in the game. The run represented Dollard’s second rush of 50 over more yards this season.
The two teams exchanged a pair of drives before the Zips exited the field with a 31-3 triumph.
Akron concludes its 2020 campaign traveling to Buffalo, N.Y. for a 2:30 p.m. tilt against Buffalo on Saturday, Dec. 12. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network as well as the Akron Radio Network 640 WHLO AM with Dave Skoczen and Joe Dunn calling the action.
– AKRON ZIPS –
GAME RECAP COURTESY OF AKRON ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS