AKRON, Ohio (AP) – Javarion Franklin and Zach Terrell made sure one of the biggest weeks in the 100-year history of the Western Michigan football ended on a high note.
Franklin, a junior running back, rushed for a school-record 281 yards and quarterback Terrell threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more as No. 24 Western Michigan – ranked in the Top 25 this week for the first time in school history – shut out Akron 41-0 on Saturday.
Corey Davis caught two touchdown passes to add to his career school record, finishing with eight catches for 63 yards. The Broncos (7-0, 2-0 Mid-American Conference) had 585 yards of offense.
“It was an incredible credit to our players,” Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck said. “They played possessed. They executed the game plan perfectly.”
Franklin, whose previous career-high rushing game was 211 yards against Idaho two seasons ago, ran for a 2-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Terrell was 21 for 31 for 207 yards.
“By the time the fourth quarter started, I really had no idea I had a lot of yards,” Franklin said. “Jamauri (Bogan) kept saying something about 200 but I thought he was lying, so I’m like, ‘hey, whatever.’ I just go out there and move the chains.”
Western Michigan held Akron (4-3, 2-1) to 283 yards of offense and snuffed out their biggest threat in the second quarter when quarterback Tra’Von Chapman was intercepted by Broncos linebacker Casey Carson at the WMU 3-yard line.
Chapman, subbing for injured starter Thomas Woodson for the third straight game, was 13 for 31 for 153 yards and was intercepted twice.
Western Michigan: The strong season continues for the Broncos. They looked efficient on most of their offensive drives and shut down the Zips. Every win makes coach P.J. Fleck more attractive to the Power Five teams expected to have coaching vacancies after the season.
Akron: The Zips suffered their first MAC loss, but they’re still likely to compete for the East Division crown. That means they could see WMU again in the conference championship game.
“Every now and then, you just get beat,” Akron coach Terry Bowden said. “Tonight, we just got beat on offense and on defense. Western Michigan just took it to us, and we didn’t have any answers.”
Not many people saw Western Michigan roll over the Zips. But the score was decisive enough for the Broncos to hold their No. 24 spot or even move up.
GIVING IT UP
Western Michigan became the last FBS team in the nation to commit a turnover when Akron defensive end Daumantas Venckus recovered a Davon Tucker fumble at the Akron 14 in the second quarter. WMU’s Terrell had thrown an interception deep in Akron territory in the first quarter, but a defensive holding call nullified the play. Akron intercepted Terrell for real in the fourth quarter.
WORKING ON A DREAM
Western Michigan is 7-0 for the first time since 1941, when it finished the season 8-0. The Broncos haven’t won the conference since 1988, when they went 7-1 in the MAC and 9-3 overall. They were 1-13 in 2013 – Fleck’s first season – before going 8-5 the past two years.
THAT’S NOT VERY NICE
A motivating technique for the Akron players Saturday was a pregame burning of an oar – designed to make light of Fleck’s “Row the Boat” mantra, which is supposed to symbolize a group of people working in unison for a common goal. Fleck, who came up with the mantra after losing an infant son shortly after birth a few years ago, didn’t like it.
“It’s not very classy, in my opinion,” Fleck said after the game. “We’re not into revenge. I do believe in righteousness….Very simple, I think it’s just two different cultures.”
ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM
One of the biggest cheers from the sparse crowd at InfoCision Stadium came in the second quarter when the PA announcer informed the crowd that the Cleveland Indians had taken the lead in the American League Championship Series being played about 40 miles away at Progressive Field. The Indians took a 2-0 lead over Toronto.
Western Michigan: The Broncos return home to play Eastern Michigan.
Akron: The Zips travel to face Ball State.