Akron falls short against ranked opponent again
DE KALB, Ill. (AP)
Ranked teams have brought out the best in Akron football this season. Still victories have eluded the Zips.
No. 23 Northern Illinois handed Akron a 27-20 Mid-American setback on Saturday night at Huskie Stadium, sending the Zips (1-6, 0-3 MAC East) to their fifth consecutive loss and 30th straight road setback.
''We've played some of our best football against Michigan and Northern Illinois,'' Akron coach Terry Bowden said. ''Our best wasn't good enough today, but I told our players if you go out and play as hard as you did today wins will come.''
Three Zip defeats have been by a combined 16 points - including a 24-20 Sept. 14 loss at Michigan. Akron hasn't won on the road since a 42-35 triumph over Central Michigan on Oct. 18, 2008.
The Huskies (6-0, 2-0 MAC West) shook off sluggish offensive play and just 1 of 15 on third down conversions to prevail.
''(We) missed opportunities on offense and third downs and just didn't move the ball the way we wanted to and put our defense in a real tough spot most of the game,'' said Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey.
The Huskies defense shut down two Akron drives in the final 3:52 to secure the victory.
The offense, meanwhile, had enough to engineer five scores as the Northern Illinois extended its home winning streak to 23 straight, the nation's longest current run.
Quarterback Jordan Lynch threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as Northern Illinois extended the nation's longest current home winning streak to 23 games.
Lynch was 16 of 35 for 220 yards passing and ran for 83 more, Cameron Stingily rushed 21 times for 80 yards and a touchdown while Tyler Wedel added field goals of 42 and 21 yards for the Huskies (6-0, 2-0 MAC East).
Jawan Chisholm scored on a pair of one-yard first half runs for Akron (1-6, 0-3) and ran 20 times for 70 yards. Zips quarterback Kyle Pohl was 24 of 56 for 262 yards.
Akron opened a 7-0 lead on its first possession as Chisholm capped a 9-play, 71-yard drive with 1-yard touchdown run with 11:04 showing.
Northern Illinois replied with 17 unanswered points starting with Lynch's 18-yard touchdown run just 63 seconds later to tie the score.
Tyler Wedel, filling in for regular kicker Mathew Sims, hit a 42-yard field goal with 7:33 left in the first quarter -- the first of his career -- for a 10-7 Northern Illinois lead.
Lynch connected with Desroy Maxwell on a 25-yard scoring strike with 4:52 left as the Huskies made it 17-7. The score was also a career first for Maxwell.
Chisholm scored his second touchdown of the quarter on a 1-yard leap with 1:12 remaining to cut the Zip deficit to 17-14.
''I was kind of out of rhythm, missing throws and we were off only by an inch,'' Lynch said. ''All the credit goes to Akron's defense. They played us well.''
Huskies safety Jimmy Ward intercepted Pohl early in the fourth quarter at the Zip 30 to set up the Huskies' fifth score, a 21-yard Wedel field goal and a 27-14 lead with 11:19 left in the fourth quarter.
Ward's interception was his fifth of the season and fourth in his last four games. He entered the game ranked second in the nation.
The Zips blocked a 40-yard Wedel field goal try with 1:15 left and regained possession at its own 32, but the Northern Illinois defense stopped Akron on a fourth and 10 at its own 45.