Andre Jones took a lateral from Alphonso Owen to complete an 89-yard touchdown return with no time remaining to give Akron a 39-38 Mid-American Conference victory over Western Michigan in front of 25,610 at Waldo Stadium on Saturday night.
The Broncos (2-4, 1-1 MAC) had stopped Akron at the seven-yard line with 1:45 remaining after three of Londen Fryar's school record six pass breakups. Then WMU took a safety with 15 seconds left to set up the free kick. The Jones heroics capped the game leaving the Waldo Stadium crowd stunned in disbelief.
The Zips (3-2, 2-0 MAC) victory overshadowed career nights by Western Michigan quarterback Tim Hiller and wide receiver Jamarko Simmons. Hiller had a career-high 375 yards passing and Simmons tied his career-high with 172 yards receiving.
Hiller threw three touchdown passes, two to Simmons, while Bonds and West each added a score rushing. Bonds led WMU with 83 yards on 26 carries.
Arthur led Akron with 15 catches for 223 yards and three touchdowns, while Jacquemain completed 23-of-41 for 389 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.
Comments from Broncoblitz
This game was the kind of loss that can break the resolve of a team. It is reminiscent of the Spartan collapse in 2005 when the MSU lost two games that they had in hand to UM and OSU. They never recovered.
As bad as this loss was, the Broncos still control their own destiny, thanks to a bizarre formula for choosing the MAC West champion. Since only MAC West games count towards being the West champ, this game will not hurt the Broncos in their quest to play in the championship.
The question is, what kind of psychological impact will this game have, and what will the staff do to help put it behind them.
Next week the Broncos take on NIU. The Huskies lost to Temple today, and are considered by many to be the worst team in the MAC this year. With that in mind, Western must leave DeKalb with a win. If they don't, then the damage from the Akron loss may prove to be the scar that won't go away.
Finally, a few weeks ago I commented on the damage that the IU loss may have done to attendance. Surprisingly 25,600 people turned out for tonights game. These were not fans brought in by the hype and marketing of Comm U Night. These were the casual football fans, who follow Bronco football. After having their hearts ripped out by this loss, the Bronco's may have once again blown a major opportunity. Will they get those fans back? It will be very hard.
Post game comments from Cubit
"We gave up too many missed plays in the closing minutes"
"We kicked the ball where we wanted it to go and we just had a bunch of missed tackles."
"They're really good punt returners. I felt if we punted to them they'd start on a really short field. It also kept us out of a situation where we could get our punt blocked."