A late missed field goal in the fourth-quarter by the Buffalo Bulls (3-6, 1-4) would be the catalyst towards a fourth win against a Mid-American Conference opponent this season for the Akron Zips (5-4, 4-1).
Even with the return of starting quarterback Tyree Jackson, the loss puts the Bulls one loss away from becoming ineligible for the postseason.
Here the five key takeaways from Saturday’s pivotal conference win for the Zips.
Thomas Woodson is dependable
Down 20-14 with under eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, Akron had the ball at its own nine-yard line, and needed a response from the drive before.
Thomas Woodson recorded his only interception of the night at the UB 24-yard line, after Buffalo gained the go-ahead lead. He’s tied for second among MAC quarterback in thrown turnovers with 8.
So when Woodson led the 91-yard scoring drive, which involved him going 3-for-3 for 52 yards including a 36-yard completion to Kevin Gladney, it showed that he’s capable of staying comfortable in crucial moments.
The fifth-year senior was 21-of-29 for 286 yards with three touchdowns. Two of his scoring passes, including the eventual game-winner, was for more than 30 yards.
Close wins are becoming normal for Akron
It started a month ago when a nine-point margin brought the Zips their first conference win on the road over Bowling Green.
A week later, heavy rains delayed Akron’s game at Kalamazoo, but would run away with a 14-13 score the next day over the Broncos.
Now, it needed a late-game touchdown for a one-point victory over Buffalo.
A win is a win and the Zips are one away from playing in a bowl game, but at what time will they get that decisive win over a team not derailed with injuries (Ball State) or an FCS school (Ark. Pine Bluff).
Terry Bowden off the hot seat?
In five complete seasons, Bowden has coached past the month of November just once at Akron, winning the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl two years ago.
Besides his debut season in 2012 when he finished with one win, the other three have ended in five wins, where Akron stands right now with three games remaining.
Before going on a shortened-bye week, the Zips play guest to Miami (OH), host Ohio and then conclude the schedule at Kent State. There’s two very winnable games slated in that stretch.
So if the Zips do earn a bowl appearance and even win that said game, how much longer is Bowden’s job status certain?
Bulls are the second unluckiest MAC team
What’s happened to Eastern Michigan and the misery they’ve experienced this season has been well documented.
For the Bulls, however, five of their losses have ended in one-possession, including Saturday’s heartbreaker.
The problems started after UB won its third straight game a month ago at Kent State.
The 71-68 fallout against Western Michigan was the first of four consecutive losses, with yesterday undoubtedly have the biggest gut wrenching fallout, due to the implications that are now involved.
A reinstalled Tyree Jackson is vital
Jackson is back under center for the Bulls.
Setting a career-high in passing yards in his first game back after missing the last four games because of a knee injury, Jackson went 34-of-50 for 313 yards.
It’s not a coincidence that Buffalo has lost three of the four games that Jackson has been out, his presence alone unloads a level of confidence that can’t be matched when he’s gone.
Starting the other five games this year, Jackson has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 1,046 yards and three touchdowns.