WMU drains 1M gallons of water, loses to Akron

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
View of Western Michigan's flooded football field on Saturday night.

Western Michigan played a rare Sunday football game, after torrential rains all day Saturday flooded Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo.

University workers and outside contractors worked through the night Saturday drying out the stadium, pumping out 3,600 gallons of water a minute — and more than 1 million gallons in all.

“It was very surreal,” Western Michigan athletic director Kathy Beauregard said. “What were able to do in less than 24 hours was really miraculous, in my opinion. We worked together as a team.”

Western Michigan lost to Akron, 14-13, snapping its steak of consecutive victories over Mid-American Conference opponents at 13. Western’s last loss in the MAC was Nov. 18, 2015, to Northern Illinois, and its last at home was Nov. 11, 2015, to Bowling Green.

Western’s Josh Grant missed two field-goal attempts, from 25 and 49 yards. He couldn’t get off the final kick, as the Broncos scrambled to the line with no timeouts before time expired, sending Akron players into a wild celebration.

The Broncos rushed for 244 yards, with Jarvion Franklin leading the way with 130 on 31 carries. Jon Wassink was 17-for-29 for 182 yards, plus a touchdown and an interception.

So, in other words, not the best day on the field for Western (4-3, 2-1). But the effort off the field, in the wee hours, was quite remarkable.

Waldo Stadium sits at the lowest point of the city, and its football offices and locker rooms suffered flooding, too, with a foot-and-a-half of water — after Kalamazoo got pelted with eight-plus inches of rain.

The postponement also left Akron (4-3, 3-0) scrambling for hotels. The team stayed in Lansing.

Kalamazoo College had its football field ready for Sunday if Waldo Stadium wasn’t cleared, but in an 8 a.m. Sunday conference call with the conference, Western got the green light. It secured its own camera crews to live-stream the game, which also allowed for instant replay. The Western band wasn’t there, though, as it had a previously scheduled concert, and the crowd, no surprise, was sparse.

“Overall, it was a tremendous effort,” Beauregard said. “I can’t thank everybody enough. Our fans were very understanding, very cooperative.”