In their final chance to notch a road win this season, the Akron Zips dropped a 24-14 decision to the Miami-Ohio Redhawks in Mid-American Conference action on Tuesday night at Yager Stadium.
With the RedHawks win, Akron fell to 5-5 overall and 4-2 in MAC play, while Miami improved to 4-6 overall and 3-3 in MAC play.
Making his first start at quarterback for Akron following the late announcement that starting QB Thomas Woodson would not play because of a violation of team rules, redshirt freshman Kato Nelson went 19-of-38 for 218 yards and a touchdown.
Junior WR Kwadarrius Smith led the Zips receivers with a career-high six receptions for 69 yards. Senior RB Manny Morgan was the top rusher with 41 yards on 10 carries. Defensively, sophomore CB Alvin Davis led Akron with nine tackles.
For the RedHawks, QB Gus Ragland went 19-32 for 244 yards and three touchdowns while throwing two interceptions. Kenny Young rushed for 100 yards on 14 carries and had 98 receiving yards and a touchdown on nine catches.
Akron held Miami scoreless on the opening drive. The Zips responded with an eight-play, 45-yard drive that resulted in a missed 31-yard field goal by Nick Gasser. MU’s next drive was cut short on the third play as Shawn Featherstone made his first career interception and returned it 41 yards to the Miami 35. Nelson drove the Zips to the endzone, ending the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run, putting Akron on the board, 7-0.
Akron’s lead was short-lived as Miami tied the game on its next drive. Ragland connected with Sam Martin on a 19-yard touchdown reception, tying the game at 7-7 to end the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Zips intercepted the ball again. This time it was Jordan George interrupted Miami’s drive on the Akron 30. UA went for it on a 4th-and-2 on 42 but turned the ball over on downs.
On its final drive of the first half, Miami drove to the redzone. On a fourth-and-one from the 11, PK Sam Sloman kicked a 28-yard field goal to give the RedHawks a 10-7 advantage at intermission.
In the third quarter, Miami utilized a six-play, 72-yard drive for a 30-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Young, giving the RedHawks a 17-7 edge. On their next drive, the RedHawks added another score- a 19-yard pass to James Gardner. MU held a 24-7 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Zips scored their second touchdown to open the fourth quarter. Nelson connected with Tra’Von Chapman on a 30-yard reception in the endzone.
Akron closes out the regular season with two home Tuesday night games. The Zips host Ohio on Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. in a battle for the MAC East title. The RedHawks are back in action on November 15 against the Eastern Michigan Eagles.