Courtesy of Akron Athletics
AKRON â€“ The weather was not typical â€“ facing some snow and temperatures in the high 30â€™s, nor was the scoring system â€“ with the defense scoring points in various ways, but the first Spring Football Festival at InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field was a success with the Defense beating the Offense, 53-38.
â€œâ€œI was pleased with our energy today and I was pleased with the competitiveness of the spring game,â€ first year head football coach Rob Ianello said. â€œIt was good for our guys to be in this setting, laying before the crowd and going through a pregame routine. There were a lot of benefits today. Most importantly, we came out healthy. After 15 days (of spring practices), I think we made some progress, but we still have a lot of work to do.â€
Despite small periods of snow on a wind and chilly day, Akron had 215 kids participate in a Youth Football Clinic from 10-11 on Summa Field. While the Zips began pregame warmups, the crowd moved to the North Endzone Facility to enjoy Zips Fest.
All told, a crowd of 1,805 endured the weather to support their Zips in a scrimmage which took just over a hour to complete (four 12-minute quarters with a running clock).
The offense took advantage early. Alex Allen picked up a first down on the first two plays and Jeremy LaFrance moved the chains on a 10-yard run. A few plays later in the opening drive, Allen scored on a 39-yard rush down the left sideline. Senior Almondo Sewell gave the defense its highlight of the first quarter with a sack, giving the unit two points.
The second quarter went back-and-forth between the offense and defense scoring. The offense moved in scoring range, thanks to a Jerrod Dillard 15-yard reception. However, the unit stalled and the missed 42-yard field goal gave three points to the defense. Just as the defense began to take control, taking a 16-15 lead, Patrick Nicely connected with Jeremy LaFrance for a 38-yard touchdown with just under two minutes remaining in the second quarter. The offense had five more opportunities to make some noise in the second quarter. The offense got one big play, an 11-yard Curtis Brown reception, but the defense scored nine points, with two three-and-outs, a sack and a turnover on downs, to lead 25-24 at the break.
The defense kept the momentum to start the second half, forcing three-and-outs on the first three drives and allowing just one first down in the period.
The fourth quarter saw some miscues by the offense with Brian Wagner and Deangelo Williams each recovering fumbles. Toward the end of the contest, the offense executed better in the two-minute drill. The unit was able to convert a few first downs and Nicely found LaFrance on a 41-yard strike down the right sideline. However, the defense closed the game forcing a turnover on downs twice and Marquinn Davis registering a sack.
Nicely finished the game completing 15-of-41 passes for 173 yards and two scores. LaFrance had three receptions for 87 yards and 2 TDs, adding a 10-yard rush. Alex Allen was the top rusher, gaining 57 yards on eight attempts with a score.
Defensively, Manley Waller, Marvase Byrd and Shawn Lemon each had four stops, with Waller adding to pass breakups and Lemon adding two tackles for losses.