AKRON, OHIO – The Akron Zips gave the Iowa State Cyclones all they could handle for two and a half quarters. Until, the visitors from the Big 12 Conference, scored two touchdowns within a one-minute span late in the third period and went onto a 41-14 victory Saturday afternoon before 21,811 fans at InfoCision Stadium.
Akron (1-2) suffered its sixth loss in the last seven games dating back to last season and have not beaten a team from a Power Five conference since 2014 at Pittsburgh.
“My hats off to Iowa State. they are much better than they were last year” Zips head coach Terry Bowden said. “I told our players that we have to watch and learn from our mistakes and we could have played a better football game. We played a pretty good first half and then let it get away from us in the second half.”
Iowa State (2-1) in their first road game of the season rebounded after their heartbreaking loss to in-state arch-rival Iowa last week
“Our kids are playing really hard. It’s about playing smart” Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell said. “It’s about coming to work every day and getting better. If we are judging ourselves by a scoreboard then we are really wrong. If we start judging ourselves by what we are capable to be, then we will start to move even farther, and we have to if we want to get where we want to go and be what this team has the ability to become.”
Junior QB Jacob Park completed 24-of-33 passes for 317 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also ran for a score in the fourth quarter before he left the game in favor of the second teamers. Sophomore RB Jacob Montgomery had 127 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown.
UA was led offensively by senior QB Thomas Woodson who completed 25-of-40 passes for 240 yards and a pair of touchdown passes in the second quarter. Graduate RB Warren Ball led the ground game with 40 yards on 11 carries while senior Tra’Von Chapman led the receivers with eight catches for 53 yards.
With those two scores Chapman passed Luke Getsy into second place on the Zips All-time touchdown passing list with 41.
The defense was again led by LB Ulysses Gilbert, the reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year had double-digits in tackles for the second consecutive week compiling 12 total stops (four solo) on this warm afternoon.
The Cyclones opened a 14-0 lead in the first quarter when Park engineered a 93-yard eight play drive on the first score a seven-yard pass to senior WR Allen Lezard in the left corner of the end zone.
The second score came after a short Zips punt. Junior RB Mike Warren capped the 71-yard six play march with a one-yard run.
UA moved the ball in fits-and-starts in the opening 15 minutes but then in the second quarter they hit for the big play when Woodson connected with junior WR Kwadarrius Smith on a simple fly pattern down the left sideline for 45 yards to make the score 14-7.
ISU added to their lead on a pair of 40-yard field goals from senior PK Garrett Owens, before the Zips closed the gap just before halftime when the offense went on a 10-play 75-yard drive. From the Cyclones 11, Woodson threw a strike over the middle to Ball who was side open for the score closing the margin to 20-14 at halftime.
The third quarter was mostly a battle of punts and field position although ISU missed a chance to add to their lead when Owens missed a 25-yard field goal attempt wide to the left.
Then late in the period, Park led Cyclones offense went on an 80-yard six play drive when Park connected with senior WR Marchie Murdock over the middle from 43-yards out to make the score 27-14.
One the very next play after the touchdown, Woodson threw a pass that was intercepted by LB Joel Lanning. The converted quarterback returned the ball to the Zips 16. From the nine Montgomery went up the middle from nine yards out.
When asked about the interception, Campbell said “You see a kid like Joel Lanning, in game three and you can see his growth already. I challenge my team to step up and be leaders and he is one of the kids who is stepping up. He is a guy who is stepping up every single day and knows he can be better, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Park ended the scoring midway through in the fourth quarter when he was flushed out of the pocket and scrambled 14 yards, diving head first, for the score.
“We will find ways to grow from this game, because we were in this game. Got to be able to finish games against a team like Iowa State.” Bowden Said.
The Zips are on the road for the net two games. The first next Saturday when they travel to Troy, Alabama to battle the Trojans from the Sun Belt Conference then open MAC play on Saturday September 30th at Bowling Green.