AKRON, Ohio – Akron erased an early 14-point deficit and fought back to take a 24-21 lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Zips were unable to hold on in a 35-30 loss to Louisiana on Saturday night at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field.
Last week's Mid-American Conference East Division Offensive Player of the Week Kyle Pohl shook off two early interceptions to throw for 321 yards and three touchdowns for Akron (1-3). Anthony Holmes led a strong defensive effort for the Zips with eight tackles, six of which were solo efforts.
Louisiana (2-2) struck first with eight minutes left in the first quarter, capitalizing two plays after a Pohl interception when quarterback Terrance Broadway flipped a nine-yard pass to Jamal Robinson for a touchdown.
The Cajuns extended their lead to 14-0 just under the 10-minute mark in the second quarter, as Broadway capped an 80-yard drive with a 15-yard rushing score of his own.
Less than a minute later, the Zips answered in dramatic fashion, finding the endzone in the form of a 77-yard completion from Pohl to Zach D'Orazio – the sophomore receiver's fourth TD catch in the last three games. D'Orazio finished the night with 111 yards on four catches.
After a solid defensive sequence, Akron evened the score at 14-all courtesy of a Jawon Chisholm 22-yard run.
Another remarkable defensive stand from UA would follow to keep Louisiana from scoring again before halftime. The Cajuns rattled off 14 plays and penetrated the redzone, but the Zips stuffed UL on a fourth-and-6 at the Akron 16-yard line to regain control and momentum.
Akron took its first lead of the night at the 4:45 mark of the third quarter on a career-long field goal from Robert Stein, as the sophomore put a 49-yard attempt through the uprights to give the Zips a 17-14 advantage.
UL's Robinson caught his second TD pass from Broadway as he fell out of bounds with 57 seconds remaining in the third quarter, and the play stood after review to put the Cajuns back on top by four heading into the fourth (21-17).
The Zips came firing out of the gate with Pohl connecting on a 37-yard pass to freshmanFransohn Bickley for his first collegiate touchdown. A Stein extra point gave Akron a 24-21 lead with 13:51 left in the game, but the Cajuns would not go quietly.
Broadway registered his second rushing TD of the game with 8:07 on the clock, and Louisiana's ensuing on-side kick led to another TD to turn the tables and put the score at 35-24 in the Cajuns' favor with just over six minutes to play.
Justin March picked off an interception at UL's 32-yard line to set up the second of two more Stein FG attempts (46 and 48 yards), but they were both off the mark. The Zips made a final push when Bickley scooped up another pass from Pohl for a TD with 29 seconds on the clock, but the two-point conversion attempt was no good. The Zips would be unabe to recover their onside kick.
Akron opens Mid-American Conference play on Saturday, Sept. 28, when it travels to Bowling Green, Ohio, to face the BGSU Falcons. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. ET and the game will be carried by ESPN3.
Zips Notebook: Justin March, who entered the game tied for 14th nationally in interceptions per game (0.7 per game), added his third pick of the season in the fourth quarter ... March's three interceptions are the most by a Zips player in a single season since Anthony Holmes recorded three in 2010 ... Fransohn Bickley, who entered the game with six catches for 61 yards and no touchdowns, posted five catches for 79 yards and two scores ... tonight's 100-yard receiving performance by Zach D'Orazio was the first of his career ... Jawon Chisholm moved into tenth place on the career rushing list with his 44 yards on 11 carries ... Chisholm passed Brett Biggs (2004-05) and now has 2,113 yards.