Defense Shines In 22-14 Win At Akron For First FBS Victory
Nov. 10, 2012
AKRON, Ohio - The Minutemen defense forced four interceptions to lead the UMass football team to its first win at the FBS level, 22-14, at Akron on Saturday afternoon at InfoCision Stadium. Along with the defensive efforts, the UMass special teams came up with a blocked punt, three field goals and three consecutive punts downed inside the five-yard line in the fourth quarter. With the win, UMass improves to 1-9 overall and 1-5 in the Mid-American Conference.
The Minutemen will return to action next Saturday at Gillette Stadium against Buffalo at 3 PM. The game will also be Band Day featuring high school bands from around New England joining the UMass Marching Band. Additionally, there will be a firework show after the game.
Mike Wegzyn completed 23-of-39 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown marking his second highest yardage total for the season. He also ran for a one-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Special teams were also key for the Minutemen with Blake Lucas accounting for 10 of UMass' 15 points hitting three field goals and an extra point. Punter Colter Johnson averaged 44.8 yards per kick with four punts inside the 10-yard line including three straight in the fourth quarter inside the three-yard line.
The Minutemen started the game with a Lucas 23-yard field goal with 2:21 left in the first quarter. The scoring drive was set up by Colton blocking an Akron punt and Bailey-Smith recovering the ball and advancing it to the Akron five yard line.
In the second quarter, UMass tacked on two more field goals and Williams' touchdown reception. Wegzyn hit Williams for a 24-yard touchdown strike to make the score 12-0 with 6:35 left in the half. The Minutemen went for the two-point conversion, but failed to convert. Lucas hit his third field goal of the game with 13 seconds left in the half to go up 15-0 at the intermission.
UMass started the second half with the ball, but lost fumble ended a promising drive giving Akron (1-10, 0-7 MAC) possession. The Zips drove down the field in 10 plays to score on a Jawon Chisholm one-yard dive to pull within eight, 15-7, with 8:49 left in the third quarter. Chisholm was key with seven rushes for 43 of the 61 yards in the drive.
Following the fumble, UMass punted on its next three possessions but two of the punts were downed at the Akron one-yard line thanks to Johnson's kicking and excellent coverage.
On the second punt downed at the one-yard line, Akron quarterback Dalton Williams threw his fourth interception of the game as Colton returned the pick 16 yards to the Zips one-yard line with 4:49 left in the game. Two plays later, Wegzyn plunged into the endzone for the touchdown giving the Minutemen a 22-7 lead.
Akron responded with a nine-play, 76 yard drive as Williams hit Marquelo Suel for a 19-yard touchdown to pull within eight, 22-14.
The Minutemen were unable to sustain a drive on the ensuing possession, but Johnson once again pinned the Zips deep with a 49-yard punt to the Akron 22 yard line.
Akron picked up a first down on the first play of the drive with a 19-yard pass to L.T. Smith. An eight yard pass to Keith Sconiers set up a third-and-two situation, but the Zips were forced to call timeout with 1:30 left after an incomplete pass. On fourth down, Ryan Delaire sacked Dalton for a nine-yard loss and forced a fumble which was recoverd by Kevin Byrne.
With 1:21 left in the game, Wegzyn came under center to kneel down twice for the win.
Williams finished the game going 34-of-51 for 332 yards and a touchdown along with four interceptions. Chisholm rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown. Suel led Akron with 10 receptions for 105 yards and a score as one of 10 Zips with a catch in the game.