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Zips don't look back... They look ahead

 

The excitement around the campus of the University of Akron is getting contagious as the Zips prepare to play their first home football game on campus since 1939.

The much anticipated opening of InfoCision Stadium is Saturday afternoon when the Morgan State Bears from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference face the Zips.

Last Saturday’s 31-7 loss at nationally ranked Penn State has been quickly forgotten.

“I looked at the Penn State tape and was very disappointed with some aspects of our team for not playing to their abilities” Head Coach J.D. Brookhart said. “It came down to Penn State coming up and making plays and ours didn’t”

Akron managed just 186 yards in total offense, their lowest offensive yardage output since gaining just 69 yards at Ohio State in September, 2007.

“Offensively, we let too many Penn State defenders into the gaps which gave us no opportunity to run the ball.” Brookhart said. The Zips running game totaled just 28 yards on 30 carries.

Seven times in the game the offense failed to make a first down, and had just one sustained drive in the contest. That being at the start the second half, when Penn State kicked off, and thanks to a 42-yard return by Jalil Carter, Akron took possession on their 43 yard line.

In 10 plays, they advanced the ball to the Penn State two. When on fourth down, quarterback Chris Jacquemain was tackled just short of the goal line.

The senior was just 13-for-22 passing for 158 yards and had a part in the Zips lone score of the afternoon

After the Zips recovered a Penn State fumble on the opposition’s 40-yard line, Jacquemain found wide receiver Deryn Bowser for a touchdown. Jacquemain was pulled in the fourth quarter in favor of sophomore Matt Rodgers.

If there was one bright spot in the game for the Akron Blue and Gold, it was the play of linebacker Brian Wagner.

The redshirt freshman from Dayton, Ohio had nine tackles (seven solo) along with a pass break-up.

When asked of his play against the Lions, Brookhart said “I thought Brian played well. He is just a natural football player


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In 2007, Wagner was the Ohio Division VI Defensive Player of the Year at Springfield Central Catholic High School where he had 115 tackles on defense. He also excelled on offense rushing for 1,787 yards while scoring 26 touchdowns.

The game at ‘ Happy Valley’ is in the Zips rearview mirror, and Morgan State is now on the horizon as they open their $61.6 million on-campus facility, InfoCision Stadium.

The game with the Zips will be the Bears opener of the 2009 season. Last season the school from Baltimore finished 6-6 (4-4 MEAC).

The 2008 season was a series of streaks for the Bears as after starting the season at 2-3 in their first five games, they went on a four-game winning streak to be in the thick of the conference race with a 4-1 record. However, the campaign ended with three straight losses.

“There are 17 Football Bowl Subdivision transfers on their roster…There are some good football players that have gotten second chances and are taking advantage.” Brookhart said.

One of those transfers will be familiar to Zips fans, the Bears starting quarterback, Carlton Jackson, was with the Zips in 2006 and 2007 before transferring.

After seeing action in just four games in 2006, he made four starts in 2007 completing just 49.5 percent of his passes (47-for-95) for 583 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions.

Last season, the senior from Pompano Beach, Florida completed just 51.8 percent of his throws (58-for-112) for 742 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions.

Offensively, Morgan State will be led by running back Devan James. A teammate of Jackson’s in high school, he rushed for 1337 yards last season with eight touchdowns.

Defensively, the Bears will be led by senior linebacker George Howard who had 64 total tackles (47 solo) along with 10 ½ tackles for losses and two sacks.

One aspect of Zips preparation for Morgan State is the Bears having both a new offensive and defensive coordinators. Brookhart said “It is an uneasy feeling not knowing exactly what schemes to prepare for….It will be interesting to see what Morgan State runs and how we adjust to that style of play”

It has been almost two and a half years since ground was broken in the southeast corner of the campus, at the corner of East Exchange and Spicer streets.

Now a dream, that many thought in the community would never see, becomes a reality at 2:00PM on Saturday before what likely will be a sellout crowd.

 

NOTES: The game is the first ever meeting between the two schools…InfoCision Stadium is the first on-campus stadium in the MAC since Miami’s Yager Stadium in 1983…Zips are 5-4 since 2000 in home openers…Akron is 1-1 lifetime against the MEAC (0-1 vs. Delaware State, 1-0 vs. Howard)…Last game vs. the FCS 63-7 over Howard on September 20, 2003…QB Chris Jacquemain’s third quarter touchdown pass Saturday at Penn State throwing at least one touchdown pass in 13 of his last 14 games dating back to the 2007 season…Morgan State will begin its 112 th season of intercollegiate football Saturday against the Zips (they are 48-32 in home openers since 1930)…Bears are 1-1 lifetime against the MAC (both games coming against Buffalo)…In 2008 Morgan State ranked 12 th in the FCS in forcing turnovers with 30…Morgan State was picked fifth in the pre-season MEAC football poll…Bears SS Rodney Etienne also played for the Zips in 2007 appearing in six games

 

Written by:

Evan Meyer – Sports Vault