The Akron Zips ended their nine game losing streak on Saturday afternoon when they upset the Northern Illinois Huskies in dominating fashion, winning 44-12. The win also ends Akron’s (2-9, 1-6 MAC) six game losing streak in the series.
NIU (3-9, 2-6 MAC) actually started off strong, forcing Akron into a turnover on downs and then an actual turnover (Jordan Gandy intercepted Jeff Undercuffler) on the Zips’ first two possession. Both turnovers resulted in Huskie field goals, giving Northern a 6-0 lead as the first quarter ended.
But, starting in the second quarter, Akron would take control. The Huskies gained 89 yards in their first two drives and just two yards on their next five possessions which helped the Zips score 27 unanswered points over the next 19 minutes of game play.
Akron cut the lead in half on a 33-yard field goal early in the second quarter and then, on their next drive, took the lead and never looked back. Undercuffler hit Daniel George for a 15-yard touchdown, to give the Zips a 10-6 advantage.
On their next possession, he would find Alex Adams for a short touchdown pass and then, after a field goal gave the Zips a 20-6 lead at the break, Undercuffler would hit Adams again for a 67-yard strike early in the third quarter to bump the lead up to three touchdowns.
Undercuffler would finish the game 21/32 with 312 yards, three TDs, and the one interception while Adams led all receivers with 150 yards and two scores on seven catches. Akron would outgain the Huskies 512-261 and held NIU to just 89 yards rushing. Cam Wiley led Akron with 128 yards rushing on 24 carries.
John Richardson would finally end the Zips’ scoring run when he made a 34-yard field goal to cut into the lead, 27-12, but it quickly got worse for NIU.
The Zips drove 88 yards on 11 plays, capped off by an 8-yard TD run by Clyde Price III, and then, a few plays later, intercepted Nevan Cremascoli’s pass and returned it 76-yards for a touchdown to really put it out reach - making the score 41-9 early in the fourth quarter. Both teams would trade late field goals, with all of NIU’s points coming off the leg of Richardson.
For NIU, Cremascoli finished 14/30 with 144 yards and two interceptions. Justin Lynch was 3/8 with 28 yards and 20 rushing yards on nine carries. Harrison Waylee and Jaiden Credle each had 27 yards on the ground, with Waylee getting eight rushes and Credle carrying the ball 13 times.
Akron still has one more game to play, as they will face off against the Buffalo Bulls on Friday in a make-up game after the snow storm in Buffalo canceled the game scheduled for a few weeks ago.
For NIU the long season finally ends. The Huskies, after winning the MAC last season, finished just 3-9 - their worse full-season record in 15 years. If you’re an NIU fan...at least Rocky Lombardi should be back next year!