With Akron trailing UMass by six with just under 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Zips' quarterback Kyle Pohl connected with Jawon Chisholm on a bubble screen on 2nd and 4. Chisholm, sprinted up the sideline from 17 yards out, diving over the pylon to avoid a defender and just barely making it in. The touchdown gave Akron a 14-13 lead, and the Zips held on to capture their fourth win of the season, exacting revenge on a UMass team that beat them at home a season ago.
For Chisholm the score not only saved the game for Akron, which found itself doing everything possible to give the Minutemen the win, it also redeemed the junior running back from the dog house. Chisholm, who entered Saturday on a tear, started off the game in the worst possible way, coughing up the ball on Akron's first two drives of the game. He found himself sitting out much of the first half after those costly mistakes, but all was redeemed on one play and finished the game with 109 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown to cap off a frustrating day.
Chisholm wasn't the only Zip to have a bad day. Pohl followed up Chisholm's back-to-back fumbles with one of his own, and Akron found itself trailing 3-0 to the underdog Minutemen after the first quarter. The Zips benefited from a UMass offense that was unable to capitalize on Akron's turnovers. UMass had little problem moving the ball in the first half, especially on the ground where it tallied 116 rushing yards by halftime, but as usual it was unable to find the endzone.
Pohl put Akron on the board early in the second quarter on a 10-yard run, to give the Zips a 7-3 lead, but without Chisholm in the backfield, the sophomore quarterback had a hard time making anything happen in a one-dimensional offense. The Minutemen tacked on another field goal in the second quarter and entered halftime trailing 7-6, and on their way to defeating the Zips in back-to-back seasons.
Even after Akron managed to knock quarterback A.J. Doyle out of the game in the third quarter, the Zips struggled. Mike Wegzyn entered the game to replace the injured Doyle and marched the Minutemen down the field, going 4-for-4 on his first drive, including connecting with tight end Rob Blanchflower on a 2-yard TD pass midway through the third to give UMass a 13-7 lead. But something clicked for Akron after that.
The Zips clamped down, and didn't allow Wegzyn to complete another pass for the game, even picking him off once. The sophomore finished the day 4-for-7 with 76 yards. Akron struck early in the fourth quarter, and held on to capture the victory.
Pohl finished the game with 208 yards on 20-of-33 passing, with two scores, one on the ground and one through the air.
The victory is Akron's third in its past four games, and the fourth of the season for the best team the school has seen since 2008. All year long Akron has ground its way through contests, notching several close losses, but things seem to have finally clicked for the young team which has now been able to turn several of those close games into wins.
With the win Akron moves up to fourth in the MAC East. The Zips have next week off and conclude their season Friday, Nov. 29 at home vs. Toledo.
UMass is nearing the end of a rough second season in the MAC. With two road contests left, at Central Michigan and at Ohio, it's unlikely the Minuteman are able to notch a second win this season.