Ohio beats Akron 17-7 to earn berth in MAC title game
Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 3, 2006
ATHENS — For the first time in 38 years, the Ohio Bobcats have a new name.
Ohio (8-3, 6-1) clinched the East Division title of the Mid-American Conference for the program’s first title of any kind since 1968 with a 17-7 win over the Akron Zips Thursday.
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The Bobcats will now face Central Michigan on Nov. 30 in the MAC title game in Detroit.
“I am very proud of our players and coaching staff. I think that everybody in the program has done a great job,” Ohio second-year coach Frank Solich said.
“You do not win with any kind of consistency unless everybody is carrying a load, from the scout team to coaches on the other guys on the field. They have earned it.”
Akron’s hopes of a second straight title ended with the loss. The Zips are now 5-6 and 3-4 in the MAC.
Ohio’s running game produced 208 yards while Akron struggled with minus-4 yards on 21 attempts.
Running back Kalvin McRae ran for 136 yards on 31 carries — his sixth straight 100-yard game — and quarterback Austen Everson had a big game with 71 yards on just nine carries.
“This is my first real title since I started playing, so it feels good,” McRae said. “Just to get the something for the university and the town to be excited about it, it felt great.”
Akron coach J.D. Brookhart said the Bobcats running game gave his defense a lot of problems.
“They did some new things,” Brookhart said. “They got the quarterback a little more involved with some different schemes that made it tough. He had to become a big factor.
“They were running the zone with the quarterback behind it and you have gap issues that you have to get corrected. It can still get you a little bit. It’s hard.”
The running game asserted itself to begin the second half with a 73-yard, 18-play drive that stalled at the 1-yard line and forced Matt Lasher to kick an 18-yard field goal and extended the lead to 17-0.
“That was the key because (Akron is) an explosive football team, and it is obvious they can throw the ball very well and score on you quickly,” Solich said.
The drive ate up almost 10 minutes and forced Akron to pass more and the Zips weren’t able to get the production they needed.
“When we had time to throw, we missed some balls, obviously. We dropped a couple of big ones and those change games,” Brookhart said.
Luke Getsy threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jabari Arthur with 6:56 left for the Zips only score.
Getsy was 21 of 46 for 227 yards with two interceptions.
Ohio took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter on a 3-yard run by McRae that capped a 69-yard, 10-play march and a fumble recovery by Matt Muncy in the end zone with 3:13 left in the half.
Muncy’s recovery came when Akron was attempting to punt from its own 42 and the ball skipped past punter John Stec and went all the way to end zone.