The Zips improved to 1-1 on the season, while UAPB (1-1) suffered its first loss.
Seniors RB Warren Ball (Columbus, Ohio) and QB Thomas Woodson (Monroeville, Pa.) did most of the heavy lifting on offense. Ball found pay dirt three times on his way to 146 rushing yards on 20 carries. It was Ball's second 100-plus yard performance and the first multi-touchdown game of his career at Akron. Ball averaged 7.3 yards per carry with 32- and 21-yard long runs.
Woodson completed 15-of-21 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. Woodson shared the ball evenly with his receiving corps. Senior WR Tra'Von Chapman (Cincinnati, Ohio) led the way with five receptions for 55 yards, while junior WR Kwadarrius Smith (Orlando, Fla.) caught four passes for 38 yards. Woodson found senior WR A.J. Coney (Orlando, Fla.) twice for 39 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown pass. Senior WR Anthony Young (Medina, Ohio) rounded out the Zips' multiple target receivers with three receptions for 26 yards.
In addition, junior RB Van Edwards, Jr. (Cape Coral, Fla.) carried the ball nine times for 47 yards and a touchdown, while sophomore RB Deltron Sands (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) added a touchdown and 38 yards on seven carries.
On the other side of the ball, the Zips' defensive efforts were highlighted by a pick-six by junior LB Ulysees Gilbert III (Ocala, Fla.). It was Gilbert's first career interception and first touchdown. Gilbert also led Akron with 10 tackles, including one for a five-yard loss.
Akron limited the Golden Lions to 168 yards of total offense, 127 passing yards and 41 rushing. Akron also tallied four sacks and a total of 10 tackles for 53 yards of loss with two takeaways. Sophomore LB John Lako (Monroe, Mich.) also grabbed his first-career interception.
Junior DE Jamal Davis II (Canton, Ohio) recorded six tackles, including a team-best 3.5 for 16 yards of loss and a sack. Sophomore CB Alvin Davis, Jr. (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) also had six tackles.
The second annual Touchdown Music Fest kicked-off the home opening event, featuring Roots-rockers J.D. McPherson and Nikki Lane as co-headliners at the Lee R. Jackson Track & Field Complex.
Once the action got started on the field, the Zips controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Akron opened the game with a defensive stance that denied UAPB to gain a single yard. After three plays, the Golden Lions were forced to punt and the Zips went to work on the offensive side of the ball.
On Akron's first offensive possession, Woodson and Ball marched the Zips 56 yards in 2:43 for Akron's first touchdown of the season. The scoring drive was capped by a 12-yard run by Ball. The drive started with a pair of carries by Van Edwards for five yards. Next, Woodson hit Chapman with a 21-yard strike to the UAPB 30-yardline. Ball took care of the rest of the work, starting with an eight-yard rush followed by a 21-yard gain before picking up a dozen yards for the score.
After another defensive stop, Akron used 2:43 seconds to travel 80 yards for its second touchdown of the game. This time, Woodson started moving the chains with a 10-yard pass to Junk followed by a 12-yard run of his own. Next, Ball broke off a 32-yard run, marching the Zips to the UAPB 26-yardline. The Zips completed the drive with a 15 yard passing play from Woodson to Coney to make it 14-0 with 6:28 left to play the first quarter.
The Zips third possession ended with a 34-yard field goal off the foot of Tom O'Leary, 17-0, but moments later the Zips' defense came up big. On Arkansas Pine Bluff's first play from scrimmage, Gilbert recorded his first career interception, taking the pick 30 yards for the touchdown. At the 13:35 mark, Akron led 24-0.
Arkansas followed with a 12-play, 67-yards drive, but Akron limited the Golden Lions to 25-yard field goal to make it 24-3.
The Zips responded with a seven-play, 60-yard scoring drive, resulting in an eight-yard touchdown run by Ball, his second of the half. And, the Zips carried a commanding 31-3 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, Ball picked up where he left off, finishing a 13-play, 56-yard opening drive with an eight-yard touchdown run. The series lasted 9:12 as Ball carried the ball four straight plays for 25 total yards before breaking loose with a 24-yard run on his fifth attempt. Woodson hit Chapman for 14 yards and followed with two short pass plays before Ball finished off the last 20 yards with three runs, ultimately ending with the eight-yarder, 38-3.
Akron pushed the lead to 42 points, 45-3, with redshirt freshman QB Kato Nelson (Hollywood, Fla.) behind center. With 6:39 left in the third quarter, Nelson used 10 plays to travel 52 yards in 4:55 ended with a 12-yard run by Edwards. Nelson completed 1-of-3 passes for six yards.
The Zips opened the fourth quarter with junior QB Robbie Kelley (Springfield, Ill.) behind center. He completed 1-of-2 passes for 25 yards while leading the Zips to their final score.