Akron Drops 26-13 Decision at Iowa State

AMES, Iowa – The University of Akron football team fell 26-13 on the road to Big 12 opponent Iowa State on Saturday afternoon at MidAmerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium.

It was a closely fought battle throughout as the Akron (2-1) defense gave the Iowa State (1-2) offense trouble all game. Iowa State led by a touchdown at the break (17-10), and added three second-half field goals for their first win of the season. Iowa State outscored Akron 9-3 in the final 30 minutes of play.

Akron saw two players reach career milestones as senior P Nick Gasser (Liberty Township, Ohio) booted a 49-yard field goal for the longest of his career, and senior WR Kwadarrius Smith (Orlando, Fla) surpassed the 1,000-yard career receiving mark on a 13-yard reception. Both plays occurred in the second half.

Sophomore QB Kato Nelson (Hollywood, Fla.) led the Akron offense with 153 yards passing and 56 yards on the ground. He completed 12-of-28 passes for one touchdown and a long of 29 yards. His longest rushing effort went for 22 yards.

Senior RB Van Edwards, Jr. (Cape Coral, Fla.) carried the ball 12 times for the Zips, gaining 23 yards, while sophomore WR Nate Stewart (Bethlehem, Pa.) led the receiving corps with four receptions for 52 yards. Sophomores WR Andre Williams (Orlando, Fla.) and WR Jonah Morris (Akron, Ohio) followed in receiving with 45 and 37 yards, respectively.

Defensively, senior LB Ulysees Gilbert III (Ocala, Fla.) led the squad with 12 tackles, while teammate Jamal Davis II (Canton, Ohio) corralled the team’s lone sack for a five-yard loss. He finished with eight tackles, while senior LB Brian Bell (Valdosta, Ga.) and junior LB John Lako (Monroe, Mich.) brought down 10 players apiece. Bell and Davis, both, forced fumbles as junior CB Alvin Davis, Jr. (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and junior DL Devon’te Jest (Ocala, Fla.) picked the loose balls off the turf. In addition, Bell and senior DL Brock Boxen (New Galilee, Pa.) recorded pass break-ups.

Both team’s initial drive stalled in the first quarter as Akron appeared to be moving the ball up the field as Williams caught a 19-yard pass and an Iowa State penalty gave the Zips 15 more yards. Unfortunately, a Zips turnover deep in Iowa State territory interrupted the drive. The Zips defense did not allow the Cyclones to capitalize on the change of possession, only allowing ISU to gain 22 yards before relinquishing the ball back to Akron.

The Akron defense came up big as Bell forced a fumble with a massive hit and Davis recovered the ball at the Iowa State 26, setting up the Zips first score. Three plays later, Nelson found Williams in the right corner of the endzone to give Akron the early advantage. After Gasser picked-up the extra point, the Zips led 7-0 with 6:23 left in the first frame.

Iowa State responded quickly, using six plays to travel 49 yards in 2:38. The scoring drive was capped by a 24-yard passing play from ISU QB Zeb Noland to WR Hakeem Butler. At the end of the evenly-matched first quarter, the game was tied 7-7.

In the second quarter, Cyclones touched the scoreboard first. The home team grabbed the 10-7 advantage after a six-play, 22-yard drive that ended with a 27-yard field goal by PK Connor Assalley.

Immediately, the Zips marched to midfield, and Nelson used his legs to pick up a first down and enter Iowa State territory with a 22-yard rush. The Cyclones tried to stop the Zips momentum, but Gasser tied the game 10-10 (5:16) while matching his career long with a 45-yard field goal.

Before halftime, the Cyclones shifted the scoreboard in their favor again with an 11-play, 74-yard drive that melted 4:46 off the game clock. The Zips attempted to stop Iowa State from reaching the endzone with back-to-back goal line stops. However, after an Iowa State timeout, Cyclones RB David Montgomery leaped headfirst over the Zips offensive line which led to a 17-10 halftime advantage.

In the second half, Iowa State started with the ball, and the Akron defense denied the Cyclones a first down. The Zips received the ball with 13:16 showing on the clock. Nelson tucked the ball and gained six yards on the first play. Two plays later, Nelson found Stewart for a 17-yard reception, and the Zips earned 15 more yards from an Iowa State penalty. Akron took the ball to the Cyclones’ 25-yard line, but had to settle for three points. Gasser split the uprights with a career-long 49-yard field goal to narrow the Cyclone lead to four points, 17-13.

Iowa State used the last 3:05 of the third quarter to drive down the field, and opened the final frame with a 39-yard field goal for a 20-13 lead. The Cyclones added three more points to their total after a 43-yard field goal that capped an eight-play, 39-yard for a 23-10 advantage with 9:50 left to play.

On Akron’s next possession Smith pulled in a 13-yard pass from Nelson to surpass his 1,000-yards career receiving mark, but the drive stalled. On the other side of the ball the Zips defense continued to cause problems for the Cyclones. Jamal Davis and Jest sacked the ISU quarterback, and on the following play the swarming defense caused a fumble and Jest recovered.

Iowa State closed the game with its third field goal of the half to put the final at 26-13.

Akron will enjoy a bye week before hosting Miami (Ohio) in the Mid-American Conference opener during Homecoming on Oct. 6.  Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN+.  The 2018 Sports Hall of Fame inductees will be introduced during the game.

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