Bloomington, IN – It was a beautiful September night for football in Bloomington. The Akron Zips came into town to face our Hoosiers, and gave our boys quite a run for their money. Indiana’s offense seemed out of sorts all evening and the defense could not contain mobile Akron QB DJ Irons, who amassed 141 yards on the ground for the Zips. The Hoosiers did just enough to win however as they were able to squeak by Akron 29-27, though it took 4 overtimes to get it done.
In the first half, several players emerged as notable contributors for their respective teams. For Akron, DJ Irons stood out with his dual-threat capability. He amassed a net gain of 55 yards on the ground across 9 attempts, averaging an impressive 6.1 yards per carry. This ability to move the chains with his legs combined with his passing contributions of 100 yards, despite a couple of interceptions, proved vital for Akron’s offensive game. Additionally, Alex Adams emerged as a key receiving threat for Akron, hauling in 4 catches for 63 yards. His consistency provided Irons with a reliable option in the passing game.
On the other side, Indiana saw their quarterback, Tayven Jackson, throw for 121 yards, connecting particularly well with Cam Camper. Camper, with 2 catches, managed to accumulate a staggering 80 yards, including a 40-yard reception that showcased his big-play potential. However, Indiana’s ground game was where they truly excelled. Christian Turner emerged as a workhorse back, gaining 23 yards and scoring the game’s only touchdown up to halftime. Lucas Jaylin also showcased his running prowess with 33 yards on 7 carries, proving to be a secondary rushing threat.
Defensively, both teams had standout performers. Nate Thompson led the charge for Akron with 4 total tackles, alongside the likes of KJ Martin and Bryan McCoy who both contributed 3 solo tackles each. Andrew Behm’s presence was also felt with a key interception for Akron. For Indiana, Aaron Casey was everywhere, registering 4.5 tackles. Jacob Mangum-Farrar and Louis Moore were also pivotal, with Moore pulling in a crucial interception for the Hoosiers. Both teams displayed a solid defensive front, creating a challenging environment for the offenses to thrive.
The game, as indicated by the halftime score of Akron 3, Indiana 7, was closely contested, with both teams seeking to gain an edge and these standout players contributing significantly to the overall dynamic.
As the third quarter unfolded, Akron seized the initiative right from the kickoff. Blake Hester’s return gave them a reasonable starting point. In the driver’s seat, DJ Irons showcased his arm strength and accuracy, quickly linking up with TJ Banks and Daniel George. Implementing a swift no-huddle strategy, Akron kept Indiana’s defense guessing.
Lorenzo Lingard was instrumental during this drive. With nimble footwork and a keen eye for gaps, he managed to secure valuable yards and a couple of crucial first downs. But it wasn’t just Akron’s offensive prowess on display; Indiana inadvertently aided their advance. A glaring Roughing The Passer mistake provided Akron with an even better field position. Seizing the moment, Irons demonstrated his versatility by rushing to the end zone for a game-changing touchdown. This offensive surge put Akron ahead with a score of 10-7.
But football, as unpredictable as it is exhilarating, saw Akron’s fortunes swing the other way soon after. In an audacious move, they tried surprising Indiana with an onside kick. The gamble paid off, and Akron reclaimed the ball. However, a subsequent change at quarterback to Jeff Undercuffler proved unfortunate. A keen interception by Louis Moore quickly turned defense into offense as he dashed to the end zone, restoring Indiana’s lead to 14-10.
Akron, undeterred, went on the offensive again. With a series of passes and rushes, they advanced steadily down the field. Penalties, both for and against them, played a part in this drive, with a notable Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty pushing them back. Despite their progress, the drive hit a wall, culminating in a sack on Undercuffler.
On the other side, Indiana had limited offensive action. Tayven Jackson attempted deep passes but found no success. A brief rush by Jaylin Lucas offered some respite, but it wasn’t enough. Their time with the ball was short-lived, and they soon had to punt it away.
By the end of the quarter, with the scoreboard reading 14-10 in Indiana’s favor, the stage was set for a thrilling final quarter in Bloomington.
The fourth quarter started with a Hoosier punt, giving Akron the ball on their own 20. With Jeff Undercuffler at the helm, Akron relied on short passes and quick rushes to move the chains. Bobby Golden and Lorenzo Lingard made valuable contributions, but a quick three-and-out forced Akron to punt.
Indiana’s subsequent possession was equally lackluster. Tayven Jackson, the Hoosier’s young quarterback, couldn’t find his rhythm, primarily being stifled by Akron’s defense, particularly a sack from Antonio Smith that pushed the Hoosiers further back. With no significant progress on the field, Indiana punted again.
But the Zips, sensing a potential victory, kicked their game into overdrive. DJ Irons, Akron’s signal-caller, displayed an exceptional rush, eating up 34 yards in a single play, setting Akron up in prime field position. As the clock dwindled, Lorenzo Lingard consistently moved the chains, utilizing short rushes to edge closer to Indiana’s end zone.
With the weight of the game pressing down, Akron had a chance to secure the victory in the dying moments. Positioned at Indiana’s 14-yard line and with just five seconds left on the clock, the Zips decided to attempt a game-winning field goal. All eyes were on Dante Jackson as he lined up for a 32-yard kick. The tension in Bloomington was palpable. Unfortunately for Akron, the kick was no good, causing a collective sigh of relief from the Hoosier fans.
The fourth quarter’s conclusion saw a whirlwind of emotions and nail-biting moments, ultimately culminating in a tie, with Akron and Indiana locked at 17-17. As the dust settled, both teams prepared to head into overtime, eager to seize a victory. The drama that had been witnessed so far promised an intense and riveting continuation. The fate of the game was yet to be decided, with both teams looking to make the decisive move in the upcoming overtime. The intensity of Bloomington was about to notch up even further.
In an adrenaline-pumping overtime face-off between Akron and Indiana, the two teams displayed unmatched tenacity, leaving the audience in suspense till the very end.
Overtime started with Akron’s possession at Indiana’s 25-yard line. DJ Irons and Lorenzo Lingard took charge, propelling the Zips forward with impressive runs. Irons ultimately found the end zone, putting Akron in the lead. Dante Jackson’s subsequent kick was true, taking the score to 24-17 in Akron’s favor.
Not to be outdone, Indiana mounted a swift counterattack. From Akron’s 25, Tayven Jackson connected with Donaven McCulley and Cam Camper in quick succession. Camper’s reception resulted in a touchdown. Chris Freeman then tied the score with his kick, evening things out at 24-24.
Indiana took charge again. After a few attempts to penetrate Akron’s defense, Jackson faced a pivotal 3rd down. The pass, however, was incomplete, prompting Indiana to opt for a field goal. Freeman didn’t disappoint, nailing a 39-yarder to tip the score to 27-24 in Indiana’s favor.
Akron responded with vigor. With DJ Irons making smart decisions and showcasing agility, Akron was soon threatening at Indiana’s doorstep. However, Indiana’s defense held firm. Dante Jackson then scored another field goal, leveling the score at 27-27.
In a surprise play, Dequece Carter of Indiana succeeded in a passing attempt, shifting the score to 29-27 for the Hoosiers.
In the dying moments, DJ Irons of Akron had one last shot to clinch the game. But the pass fell short, confirming Indiana’s thrilling 29-27 win in what was undeniably one of the most intense overtime matches in recent memory. Indiana’s Hoosiers, through grit and determination, emerged victorious in a game that highlighted the heart and spirit of both teams.
All stats courtesy of Stat Broadcast.