Ianello Era Continues With Another Painful Loss

By Ryan Isley (Originally posted 10/9/2010)

Thankfully for the University of Akron, basketball season is right around the corner.

The Zips played another game and suffered another loss to start the Rob Ianello era with a 28-17 loss at the hands of Kent State on Saturday, sending Ianello to an 0-6 start.

“Obviously, it is a heck of a rivalry, everything that they say it was it is,” Ianello said. “Two teams slugging it out, good crowd, great atmosphere. And they just made a few more plays than we did.”

The contingent of Akron fans who were already starting to grow weary of Ianello will not take losing to Kent State lightly, as the Zips had won three in a row, five of the last six and 11 of the previous 13 meetings between the rivals.

The Akron offense stalled time after time as quarterback Patrick Nicely had one of the worst days a quarterback could dream of having, completing just 16-for-33 for 133 yards, zero touchdowns, three interceptions and three fumbles, two recovered by Kent State.

“I can’t tell if it all decision-making (with Nicely) until I watch the video,” Ianello said. “I can’t sit here and pin it all on Patrick. We had some protection issues and we had some things not go well at times. I can’t doubt anybody’s effort, we just need to execute a little better.”

Akron actually took a 7-0 lead after a seven-play, 89-yard drive resulted in a two-yard touchdown run by Alex Allen the second time they had the ball but then disaster struck on the next possession.

With the offense backed up at their own one-yard-line on third-and-11, Nicely tossed an errant pass that landed in the hands of Kent State safety Dan Hartman, who returned it 12 yards for a touchdown that got Kent State on the board despite having just 20 yards of total offense at the time.

The numbers look bad enough, but Nicely was actually worse than they suggest, missing receivers all over the field and never really even getting close to being in a rhythm until the final drive of the first half when he was 3-for-4 for 25 yards.

Just when it looked like Akron was going to make something happen, the offense stalled again due to play-calling and then Nicely took a sack with six seconds left and kicker Igor Iveljic nailed a 41-yard field goal attempt to cut the lead to 21-10 at half.

“When you get into the two-minute offense before the half, you are trying to get a field goal for sure and if you can get close enough to get greedy, you go for a touchdown,” Ianello said. “They had just gone up 21-7 and with that type of momentum I just wanted to make sure we could get ourselves in a position to kick a field goal.”

While the offense was not able to maintain anything, the defense was not able to hold Kent State and the Golden Flashes did their offensive damage in the second quarter, scoring two touchdowns while racking up 140 yards and held Akron to just 26 yards of total offense in the quarter before that final drive.

The Zips looked like they were going to make a ballgame of it on a fake field goal turned into a touchdown by wide receiver Jeremy LaFrance with 5:47 left in the third quarter to make it 21-17 following what may have been the ugliest few minutes in the history of football.

“We have had that in for a couple weeks,” Ianello said. “We felt that they presented us with a good look to run that so there is no reason to leave it on the call sheet.”

With the ball at their own 49-yard-line, Nicely completed a seven-yard pass to Gary Pride, which coupled with a roughing the passer penalty on Kent State gave the Zips the ball at the Kent State 29-yard-line. Following a holding penalty, Nicley was then sacked for 14 yards and topped that off with an intentional grounding penalty.

On third-and-27, Nicely was again sacked but a facemask penalty on Kent State gave Akron a first down, leading to the touchdown.

“I would have to go check the record books to see if I have ever been in a game with that many penalties,” Ianello said, referring to the 23 accepted penalties in the game. “I was disappointed in our discipline today, no question.”

The offenses both went stagnant from there and Kent State’s defense salted the game away with 3:08 to play when Nicely fumbled the ball in his own end zone, recovered by Luke Batton for a Kent State touchdown to make it 28-17 and then Nicely’s second interception on the next possession sent the Akron fans for the exits. Just for good measure, Nicely tossed another interception with 54 seconds left, sending Kent State into victory formation.

“It’s a great rivalry,” Ianello said. “I thought Kent State played really well today and (head coach) Doug Martin and his staff did a heck of a job. I congratulate them and wish them the best of luck the rest of the year.”

At this point, it may be Akron, and not Kent State, that needs the luck.

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