It might be short-sighted to call Akron's 20-17 victory over NC State the biggest in school history.
The more accurate statement is that Saturday's win was the least expected.
Facing a rejuvenated passing attack and swarming pass rush, quarterback Luke Getsy managed a one-minute game-winning drive that included scrambling, spinning and diving.
The entire game came down to one play. Coach J.D. Brookhart could either kick a field goal and hope for overtime. Or he could make his own luck with a touchdown attempt. Thankfully, he picked the latter.
With a key block from fullback Joe McDaniel, running back Dennis Kennedy sliced to the endzone as time expired to give Akron a valuable win in regards to becoming bowl-eligible and the school's first-ever victory over an ACC program.
Freshman receiver David Harvey sparked Akron's offense with three important catches for 127 yards. That's the kind of receiver he has proven to be: A deep threat who can change the course of a game on any given play.
Not including the game-winning run, Kennedy's heroics mainly came in the first half. He broke free for several runs longer than 10 yards. The sophomore finished with a game-high 109 yards on the ground.
Many might argue the most impressive part of Akron's win was the rushing defense. Once again, the Zips held a run-oriented offense to fewer than 100 yards. NC State's Toney Brown ran for only 59. Akron held the Wolfpack to a total of 74 yards.
John Mackey and Brion Stokes once again proved to be serious playmakers. Whenever a big play was in the works, you could bet on seeing No. 19 or 43 standing over a fallen ball carrier.
Akron led 7-0 at halftime, but NC State coach Chuck Amato adjusted effectively. The 'Pack blitzed more, passed better and seemed to grab the momentum after the players left the locker room.
Despite the win (and a huge one it was), Akron has plenty to improve on. The Wolpack's offense benefitted from many missed tackles in the second half. Eleven penalties for 121 yards should have crippled the Zips' chances.
The left side of the offensive line, after playing poorly against Penn State, improved its run blocking, but still allowed way too many NC State defenders into the backfield. I'm not in the huddle, nor do I pretend to be, but Andy Alleman and Tim Crouch need to block much better for Getsy to keep their jobs.
Special teams continued to be a stressful situation. Punter John Stec looked nervous. Place kicker Matt Domonkos missed a reasonable field goal.
My opinion -- call me a homer if you want -- is that Akron is a top-25 team if they can improve in some of these areas. And even if the Zips don't, their skill level is enough to return to the MAC Championship.
Think about it: If NC State and Penn State can't stop Dennis Kennedy, will Miami? If Akron can hold Penn State and NC State under 100 yards rushing and 300 in total offense, will Bowling Green top those totals?
The answer is "no." But I'm glad Brookhart is Akron's coach so the team's mentality won't reflect that truth.
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