Famous Idaho Potato Bowl…
Akron 23, Utah State 21 ** The weather was cold, the crowd small (18,878). Doesn’t matter. Akron has won a bowl game for the first time ever.
** Quarterback Thomas Woodson threw for 168 yards and led the Zips with 47 yards rushing on 16 carries. He also caught a touchdown pass from 14 yards out on a trick play for the game’s first score.
** But a big defensive play may have been the key to the game. With Akron up 10-7 late in the first half and Utah State at Akron’s 28-yard line, senior linebacker Jatavis Brown forced a fumble with a sack of quarterback Kent Myers. Rodney Coe picked up the loose ball and rumbled 56 yards to the Utah State 12, setting up a 29-yard field goal by Robert Stein with :04 remaining. Utah State was looking for the halftime lead or at worst a tie (after having been down 10-0) and instead saw its deficit double.
** The Aggies went up 14-13 with 12:41 to go in the third quarter on a 19-yard pass from Myers to Hunter Sharp.
** But Utah State committed its third and final turnover of the game – a fumble by receiver Andrew Rodriguez after a catch. Akron recovered at the Utah State 40 and cashed in following a 24-yard pass from Woodson to Andrew Pratt to the Aggie 1. Donnell Alexander got the score from two yard out. 20-14, Zips, with 5:43 left in the third.
** Stein’s 46-yard field goal with 8:15 to go put Akron up by two scores. It was his third field goal of the game, and he was named MVP. It also made him the most prolific scorer in Akron history with 268 points.
** Utah State made it interesting at the end. The Aggies drove 64 yards in about a minute and a half, finding the end zone on Chuckie Keeton’s 2-yard pass to Brandon Swindall with 1:12 to go.
(Myers and Keeton shared quarterback duties for Utah State. It was Keeton’s last game in a storied, if injury-riddled, career.) But Akron recovered the onside kick. Utah State got the ball back on its own 12 with time for one play – one of those multi-lateral deals. Didn’t get anywhere, and…
** Akron had its first 8-win season since moving up to FBS in 1987. That’s 29 years. The only other bowl game for the Zips was the 2005 Motor City Bowl, which they lost 38-31 to Memphis.
** Akron senior receiver Pratt had a career-best nine receptions for 94 yards.
** Utah State’s Devante Mays ran for 124 yards on 12 carries against the nation’s third-best rushing defense.
** The Aggies had no first downs in the first quarter, but by game’s end they had a 22-17 edge in that stat. Utah State outgained Akron 363 to 282.
** Akron coach Terry Bowden’s legendary coaching father Bobby Bowden watched the game from a press box.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl…