AKRON, Ohio – The Akron defense held Kent State to 300 total yards and forced five turnovers as the Zips defeated the Golden Flashes 16-7 in the 56th Annual Battle for the Wagon Wheel on Saturday afternoon in a Mid-American Conference East Division contest at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field.
With the victory, the Zips regained the Wagon Wheel for the first time since Nov. 7, 2009. The win also gave Akron a 3.0-1.5 lead in the PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge.
Johnny Robinson recorded two turnovers for the Zips (3-7, 2-4 Mid-American Conference), recovering a fumble in the first half and intercepting a Colin Reardon pass to snuff out a Kent State drive midway through the fourth quarter. Jatavis Brown led the Zips with 16 tackles, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.
Jawon Chisholm led the Akron offense with 151 yards rushing on 27 carries.
Robert Stein kicked three field goals to help propel Akron to its third win in a season for the first time since 2009.
The running game and a key personal foul penalty against Kent State (2-8, 1-5 MAC) combined to put Akron within field goal range late in the game as it attempted to protect a 13-7 lead. Following Robinson's interception, the Zips marched 60 yards in 12 plays and Stein converted his third field goal of the game – this one from 29 yards – to cap the drive and extend the lead to two scores.
Early on, it appeared the Zips could be in for a big day offensively after they went to the air successfully on their first drive.
Kyle Pohl completed a 45-yard pass to Fransohn Bickley on the second play from scrimmage. On the next snap, Pohl lateraled to Zach D'Orazio, who lofted a 33-yard TD pass to a wide-open L.T. Smith for the game's first touchdown.
In the first quarter, the defense forced a turnover when KSU's Dri Archer put the ball on the ground at the end of a short run and Robinson recovered. Archer's carry was the only time in the opening quarter that the Flashes reached Akron territory.
The second miscue by the Flashes came less than one minute into the second quarter, when Jatavis Brown stripped the ball from Trayion Durham and Albert Presley dove on it for the Zips.
Two plays later, the Golden Flashes returned the favor as Roosevelt Nix sacked Pohl and Mark Fackler recovered at the Akron 42. The turnover proved costly for the Zips as the Flashes methodically drove down the field in 11 plays and reached the end zone for the only time on a 3-yard TD run by Durham, tying the game at 7-all.
Akron retook the lead with 29 seconds left in the opening half as Stein capped a 15-play, 57-yard drive with a 28-yard field goal to stake the Zips to a 10-7 edge heading to the locker room. The drive also consumed 7:59 from the clock, leaving the Flashes just 29 seconds to work with before intermission.
Stein's 27-yard field goal with 14:03 to go in the fourth quarter gave the Zips a 13-7 cushion.
After a week off, Akron travels to Massachusetts on Nov. 16 for a 1 p.m. ET contest at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
Zips Notebook: In the last two weeks, RB Jawon Chisholm has rushed for 317 yards on 53 carries ... WR Zach D'Orazio, who originally came to Akron as a QB, threw his first-career touchdown pass ... Akron leads the all-time series with Kent State, 30-23-2, and closed the gap in the Wagon Wheel era to 22-20-1 (played since 1946) .. today also was Jim Dennison Day, during which UA's winningest head coach (80-62-2) was honored in a variety of ways ... more than 200 former players and assistant coaches returned to campus to help recognize him.