Following a 52-0 throttling at the hands of Penn State last week in Happy Valley, the Zips looked to rebound this Saturday in their home opener against the Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions.
Warren Ball, who had missed almost all of last year after suffering an injury in the opener against Wisconsin, got the Zips offense off to a lightning fast start. Right after ripping off a 21-yard gain, Ball once again bounced off would-be tacklers on his way to a 12-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0 Zips.
The Akron defense, who was at the mercy of Penn State’s offense last week, asserted itself early in this one with 2 quick 3 and outs. The latter would help set up good field position for the Zips, as quarterback Thomas Woodson would find AJ Coney for a 15-yard strike to make it 14-0 Zips.
Ulysees Gilbert, who was a non-factor last week, made his presence known in this one. Early in the 2nd quarter, Gilbert picked off Golden Lions quarterback Brandon Duncan and took it 30 yards back to the house for a Zips touchdown. Warren Ball would also add another touchdown run, this time from just 8 yards out. The Zips would dominate the rest of the way in the first half, carrying a 31-3 lead at halftime.
The second half would play out like the first as it was all Zips. In the 3rd quarter, Akron would receive more insurance from their running backs. Warren Ball would cap off his day with another 8-yard scoring plunge, and Van Edwards (who came in to replace Ball) would also scamper in from 12-yards out for a score. The defense would continue to give Pine Bluff fits as Akron held a 45-3 lead after 3.
In the 4th and final frame it would be Deltron Sands finding the end zone for the Zips as he ran it in for a score from just 1-yard out. This would cap the scoring for the evening as the Zips would go on to win 52-3.
The Zips outmatched Pine Bluff in every facet, as expected. Akron took care of business as heavy favorites, outgaining the Golden Lions 464-168 in total yards. The Akron run defense, which was outside of the top 100 last year, held Pine Bluff to just 47 yards on the ground. Quarterback Brandon Duncan was also flushed out of the pocket all day and could not establish any sort of rhythm. He would finish with 12-23 passing for 105 yards and 2 interceptions.
Thomas Woodson, after really struggling last week in Happy Valley, had a much better performance this time around. He would go 15-21 passing 166 yards and one touchdown before backups Kato Nelson and Robbie Kelley came on to relieve him.
The Zips will be back home in action next Saturday when they host the Big 12’s Iowa State. Kickoff is set for 12 PM at Infocision Stadium. The team will be honoring Jason Taylor’s admission into the NFL Hall of Fame.
Offensive MVP: Warren Ball- 20 carries for 146 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ball found running lanes early and often and never slowed down. It was his first multi-touchdown game as an Akron Zip.
Defensive MVP: Ulysees Gilbert- 10 tackles, one of those for a loss, and one interception that turned into a pick six. Gilbert is expected to really anchor the defense this year so this is a promising performance from him after a quiet week last Saturday at Penn State.