The University of Akron experienced two huge victories Saturday on the UA campus.
Both wins were high on drama and emotion.
The top-ranked Zips men’s soccer team secured a come-from-behind win to maintain a perfect record and the Zips football team defeated rival Kent State to hang onto the coveted Wagon Wheel.
The UA men’s soccer team, ranked No. 1 in the country in all five national polls, beat Hartwick 3-2 on Senior Night under coach Caleb Porter.
The Zips trailed 2-1 at halftime, but rallied for two goals late in the second half to complete a perfect regular season (18-0-0, 6-0-0) and win the Mid-American Conference regular season title before 2,158 fans at Lee Jackson Field.
It is the second time that the soccer program has had a perfect season. The last time was in 1968, when the Zips went 11-0.
The game-winner came in the 84th minute on an unassisted goal by junior Anthony Ampaipitawong from 13 yards out. It was set up on a through ball by sophomore Teal Bunbury into the goalie box and a back-heel redirection kick by junior Blair Gavin.
Ampaipitawong also had the first goal, a free kick from 22 yards out in the seventh minute.
Junior Chris Korb tied the score at 1-1 on a 35-yard kick into the right corner of the net in the 72nd minute. That goal was also unassisted.
The Hawks are 9-3-4 overall and 3-1-2 in the MAC.
It was the first time UA had trailed at the half since 2007, snapping a string of 53 consecutive matches.
Zips seniors Ben Zemanski, Stefan Ostergren, C.J. Kaufman and Ivan Sandoval were each recognized as part of Senior Night prior to the game.
UA will host the MAC Tournament this upcoming weekend. The top-seeded Zips will face the fourth-seeded Northern Illinois Huskies in a rematch of last year's championship game at 6 p.m. Friday. The championship game is 4 p.m. Sunday.
The UA football team rallied back from an early 3-0 deficit to beat rival Kent State 28-20 and win the Wagon Wheel for the third consecutive year under coach J.D. Brookhart.
The Zips (2-7, 1-4) ended a six-game losing streak in a Mid-American Conference game before a crowd of 20,802 at InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field.
UA had lost seven consecutive MAC games over two seasons and was in last place in the MAC East. The Zips put the past behind them and focused on the present and won.
The Golden Flashes (5-5, 4-2) entered with a three-game winning streak and were tied for second place in the MAC-East. With the defeat, KSU is third, 1 1/2 games behind leader Temple with two games left.
Seniors Alex Allen and Andre Jones each rushed for a Zips touchdown and freshman quarterback Patrick Nicely threw two touchdown passes to junior receiver Jeremy LaFrance.
UA led 7-3 after one quarter, 14-13 at halftime and 21-13 after three quarters.
Nicely completed 19-of-34 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns. KSU freshman quarterback Spencer Keith completed 30-of-59 passes for 377 yards and two touchdowns.
LaFrance had eight catches for 126 yards and the two touchdowns and Jones had six catches for 93 yards.
Freshmen Tyshon Goode (eight receptions for 132 yards) and Dri Archer (eight receptions for 90) each made an impact for KSU.
UA rushed for 168 yards on 40 carries, an average of 4.2 yards per rush, and KSU could manage only 38 yards on 21 attempts, a 1.8 average.
Freshman Broderick Alexander (13 carries, 51 yards) and senior Joe Tuzze (8 carries, 45 yards) paced the Zips rushing attack.
Freshman Brian Wagner, junior Jalil Carter and senior Miguel Graham led the Zips defensive unit in tackles. UA senior Wayne Cobham and junior Mike Thomas each had an interception.
UA will host Temple in a MAC regular season game Friday at 8:30 p.m.
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