AKRON - Similar situation. Different result. Very different feeling.
Bowling Green State Univer-sity topped Akron 37-33 last night in a game that induced flashbacks of last week's heartbreaking loss to Eastern Michigan.
After BG kicked a field goal late to go ahead by four, Akron drove from its 36-yard line to BG's 33, needing a touchdown to win. A week full of nightmares nearly became reality again. Eastern Michigan did something similar to the Falcons seven days ago, but unlike the Eagles, Akron couldn't deliver.
"I know how [Akron coach J.D. Brookhart] feels right now," BG coach Gregg Brandon said. "Seven days ago, I felt the same way."
BG's defense stood strong after being given another chance to put a game away. Last week, EMU raced down the field on its final possession with little resistance from the Falcons. A sequel was not to be at the Rubber Bowl. Pressure applied by Joe Schaefer and Diyral Briggs forced Akron's Chris Jacquemain into throwing an incompletion on fourth-and-8 to end the game.
Brandon's mind must have flashed back to last Saturday's debacle. Right?
"No," he said. "That's a long time ago in this business."
Then Brandon retracted his statement.
"I told [defensive coordinator Mike] Ward that it's dj vu, so I guess I was thinking about it," Brandon said.
College football is a funny game. Had BG lost, which was certainly a possibility until the final whistle, any chance of winning the Mid-American Conference may have been washed away. Now, however, the Falcons (3-3, 1-1) are in sole possession of the lead in the East division.
"Every week is huge for everybody now," Brandon said.
BG's offense made amends for a poor showing against EMU by exploding for 24 points in the fourth quarter. Tyler Sheehan ran into the end zone from 19 yards to cut Akron's lead to 27-21 with 13:04 to go in the fourth quarter.
Then on its next offensive possession, BG went ahead 28-27 when Anthony Turner found Jimmy Scheidler for a five-yard touchdown. That play was set up by Antonio Smith's interception of Jacquemain that Smith returned 23 yards to Akron's 6.
Turner was superb, just as he was last year when the teams met at Perry Stadium. Lining up at running back for the first time this year, the do-it-all senior pounded out 126 yards on 19 carries. He also caught five passes for 42 yards. Turner dislocated his shoulder at Boise State, missed the Wyoming game, and was used sparingly against EMU.
"He played a heck of a game," Brandon said.
As did the game's other running back. Akron's Dennis Kennedy must have something against BG or this is very coincidental.
Kennedy's career-high rushing total before last night was 178 yards two years ago against BG. He exceeded that figure by four yards last night, needing 29 carries to do it. Kennedy's second touchdown put the Zips (3-4, 1-2) ahead 21-7 with 2:58 left in the first half.
Akron would have been ecstatic with a 14-point lead going into halftime, but it didn't happen. Corey Partridge scored on an eight-yard touchdown catch with 42 seconds left to limit the damage.
Partridge's second touchdown catch was even bigger. After Akron scored with 7:47 left in the game to go up 33-28, the Falcons responded quickly when Sheehan (26-of-41 for 239 yards and three touchdowns) found Partridge in the back of the end zone for 21 yards.
Sinisa Vrvilo, who has struggled all season, came through in the clutch with a 44-yard field goal to put BG ahead by four with 2:20 left.
Not to be overlooked is
another strong stand by BG's defense. Akron earned a first down at the Falcons' 11 but was forced to kick a field goal in the third quarter.
"I'm really proud of my football team," Brandon said. "We showed great resiliency."
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