BOWLING GREEN: After a series of first quarters this fall in which the University of Akron tallied three points total, the Zips made a fervent effort to come out quickly Saturday afternoon.
Next time they probably also would like to finish.
The Zips took a 14-3 lead in the first quarter against Bowling Green, but then gave up 28 unanswered points as they allowed the Falcons and running back Travis Greene to dominate en route to a 31-14 loss at Doyt Perry Stadium.
“They overpowered us,” said Zips coach Terry Bowden. “Give them credit for making corrections and coming out and being the kind of football team they have been the last four games.”
Greene, who came in averaging 102.2 yards rushing, not only ran over the Zips with 142 yards on 24 carries, but he also had four receptions for 71 yards, a career high. He scored two touchdowns. Yet he was surprised by the Zips’ effort.
“I think coming out we underestimated them a little bit — just a little bit,” Greene said. “In the second half we made the corrections. We picked up everything they were doing. It wasn’t anything we didn’t see on film. I think we underestimated them a little bit.”
The defense battered Falcons quarterback Matt Johnson with six first-half sacks, but passing wasn’t the problem. By the end of the first half, Greene had already rushed for 95 yards.
The Zips (1-4 overall, 0-1 Mid-American Conference) felt his presence even more in the second half. UA went three-and-out on its first possession and punted. Bowling Green took over on its 31-yard line. Eleven plays later the Falcons scored on William Houston’s 2-yard plunge.
The Falcons (4-1, 2-0) can thank Greene’s efforts on the drive. Held without a reception in the first half, he caught three balls for 41 yards on the drive. He also added 8 yards rushing.
However, he wasn’t finished. Johnson, who avoided the Zips’ rush in the second half by rolling out, later found himself scrambling and hit Greene with a short shovel pass that he took 30 yards for a 24-14 lead with 1:41 left in the third quarter.
The Zips still showed signs of life. They marched to the Bowling Green 9-yard line and were in business with a first-and-goal. After getting inside the Falcons’ 1, the Zips opted for a play-action pass. Quarterback Kyle Pohl dropped back, looked to the back of the end zone only to have Falcons defender Gabe Martin knock the pass away. On fourth down, placekicker Robert Stein missed a field-goal attempt.
“Nobody is arguing with the play calling. It’s good. We had stuff open,” Pohl said. “Their linebacker made a great play on the pass I tried to throw to the back of the end zone. That was just a great play. It’s always discouraging coming out with no points. I thought there was no argument either way with what we did. We just didn’t execute.”
Bowden said he’d make the same call again.
“If you’re going to use the play-action it’s best to do it on the critical down,” he said. “In second-guessing you’d love to go back and say we shouldn’t. But I don’t second-guess calls like that.”
Once again the Zips return to Akron having earned respect, but the score tells another story.
Wide receiver Dee Frieson (knee injury) was out for the Zips and backup quarterback Nick Hirschman (knee injury) didn’t make the trip with the team to Bowling Green.
George M. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Zips blog at https://ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.