AKRON, Ohio – Behind an offensive attack led by junior QB Kyle Pohl, the University of Akron football team had no trouble handling Howard in its season opener, cruising to a 41-0 victory at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field on Thursday night.
The decisive win was Akron's first in a season-opening contest since 2007, when the Zips defeated Army 22-14.
Pohl finished the night 23-of-36 with 308 yards through the air and four touchdowns to help Akron rack up 506 yards and 24 first downs as a team. He threw touchdowns to three different receivers and tallied 48 yards rushing on seven carries.
One of Pohl's top targets, sophomore Mykel Traylor-Bennett, caught four passes for 89 yards and his two touchdowns, his first two TDs as a Zip.
The Akron defense was stout throughout the game, holding the Bison to 216 total yards and 15 first downs. C.J. Mizell recorded 10 tackles (eight solo) and a fumble recovery to lead the defense as the unit recorded its first shutout since a 41-0 triumph over Morgan State on Sept. 12, 2009.
A consistent pass rush kept Howard QB Greg McGhee off-balance throughout the game. Akron posted four sacks while holding McGhee to 12-of-26 passing for 68 yards.
The Zips started fast, scoring their first touchdown of the season on a 57-yard strike from Pohl to L.T. Smith just 1:34 into the game. After the Akron defense forced a three-and-out on Howard's first drive, Pohl found Smith on a post route down the middle and the senior receiver raced untouched into the end zone for the score.
The Zips continued their defensive dominance on Howard's ensuing drive, forcing a fumble as Justin March dislodged the ball from William Parker. Mizell recovered the ball, returning it to the Bison's 9-yard line. Another no-nonsense two-play drive put the Zips up 14-0 as Pohl threw his second touchdown of the game, this one a 9-yard connection to Imani Davis.
UA needed just 58 seconds to score its first 21 points of the game, all in the first quarter.
Akron did not allow a first down on Howard's first three drives and surrendered just 135 yards in the first half. The Bison reached Akron territory for the first time nearly four minutes into the second quarter and found their way into the red zone just once on the night.
Neither team could dent the scoreboard in the final 24 minutes of the first half and the 21-0 margin remained unchanged until senior running back Jawon Chisholm dove into the end zone on a 6-yard TD run midway through the third quarter to extend the lead to 28-0.
The Zips return to the field on Saturday, Sept. 6, when they travel to Penn State. Kickoff at Beaver Stadium is scheduled for 12 noon ET and the contest will be televised on ABC.