"Obviously, it was an unbelievable finish," said Akron coach J.D. Brookhart, who has guided the Zips to one last-play triumph in each of his four seasons with the squad.
On the game-winner against Western Michigan, Akron's Alphonso Owen accepted a free kick that followed an intentional safety by Western Michigan. He caught the ball at his own 11-yard line, and, just as the junior was being tackled around the 22 with seven seconds remaining, he pitched to Andre Jones at the 18.
Jones, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound freshman, took possession on the left side of the field, made a cut, and headed to the right side with only one defender to beat. That last man was eliminated by Akron's Andre Walker around the Broncos' 5-yard line.
"It was wild," Brookhart said. "Andre was yelling, 'Pitch it. Pitch it.' It was a great win. . . . A big win."
"They fought to the end," said Temple coach Al Golden, who saw a tape of the game. "It was amazing because it was a full house." Western Michigan "was up by 14 points with four minutes to go in the game, and nobody was there."
Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit said in a published report yesterday that a Mid-American Conference official apologized to his team for two non-calls in the Akron game, including a block in the back early on the winning kick return.
The referees also reportedly missed a false start by Akron on its previous score.
Earlier this season, the MAC acknowledged a blown call that disallowed a touchdown with 40 seconds left in Temple's 22-17 loss at Connecticut on Sept. 29.
Temple, 1-5 overall and 1-2 in the MAC, will face its third Eastern Division opponent in Akron (3-3, 2-0).
The Owls bring an 0-2 Eastern Division record into tomorrow's contest. Akron is one of three teams in the division that are 1-0. Buffalo is atop the standings at 2-0.
Records within the division are the primary factor in deciding the title, which gives the winner a berth against the Western Division survivor in the MAC championship game.
"This obviously is a great test for us, to go into a MAC East opponent and try to win a game on the road," Golden said. "And it's a test for us to try to win two in a row."
Akron, which also defeated Army and Kent State, has a dangerous receiver in Jabari Arthur. He has reached the end zone seven times and leads the MAC in receiving yards with 107 per game on 49 catches.
The Zips are ninth in the MAC with 20.7 points per game. Temple is 11th with 19.2.
The player Akron has to watch out for is Temple quarterback Adam DiMichele. The redshirt junior is fifth in the MAC with 1,317 passing yards and has completed 111 of 185 attempts for nine scores, with eight interceptions.
Though the Owls didn't score on offense last week, DiMichele made plays with his arm and feet to put Temple in position to win. He picked up 55 yards on 14 carries, while going 18 for 32 passing with an interception.
"He's the pied piper now," said Golden, whose Owls are second in the MAC in total defense. "They're going to follow this guy. He's that kind of player. . . . He makes every throw, and he can win with his legs."
Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum at 215-854-2583 or email@example.com.