By Taylor Greik
Ohio concluded a very eventful homecoming week for Ohio Bobcats by beating the Akron Zips 34-28 in Mid-American Conference play on Saturday. Ohio was matched up against an Akron offense that was ranked in the top ten in the nation and performed in front of a crowd of 25,542 fans. It was the second largest crowd in Ohio’s school history.
The story of Ohio’s season so far has been there notoriously slow starts and their weak defensive play. In this game, both of those issues seemed to be taken care of right from the start. Ohio jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the Zips in the first quarter including two touchdowns from quarterback Tyler Tettleton. The first of Tettleton’s two touchdowns was a 39 yard reception from Landon Smith on a reverse pass.
“We got an early start, which is something that we have really not done all year long, so that was obviously very pleasing” said coach Frank Solich after the game. It was the first time in conference play this year that Ohio did not have to play from behind, which seemed to play a major role in their win over Akron.
Tettleton’s second touchdown in the first quarter was significant, not just for Ohio to grab a commanding lead early, but it was also his 39th career passing touchdown, which broke the school record, previously set by Boo Jackson.
“I’m just glad that it’s over with now and we can stop talking about it,” said Tettleton. “I’m just glad that we got the win today”.
Tettleton played an efficient and clean game as he was 13-27 passing for 150 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 65 yards on 12 carries.
Ohio’s rushing attack was a major factor in their success against Akron on Saturday. As a team, Ohio ran for 289 yards on 53 total carries. Beau Blankenship and Ryan Boykin split the carries for the second straight week as Blankenship rushed for 108 yards on 17 carries and Boykin carried the ball 19 times for a total of 96 yards. Boykin also contributed to the cause with a third quarter touchdown.
Blankenship’s play since he has had to split more carries with Ryan Boykin has still benefited regardless of the number of carries.
“It’s good having someone coming in, being fresh and get some great stuff done,” said Blankenship. “Our styles are different and they complement each other and it’s good that we have that.”
Ohio was really able to slow down Akron with their running game by sustaining long and effective drives. Ohio had a touchdown drive that went 11 plays for 96 yards, in which Beau Blankenship rushed for 78 of those 96 yards. On the ensuing Bobcat drive, Ryan Boykin received all of the carries and racked up 48 yards on a 75 yard Ohio drive.
“Our pass game was struggling a little bit, but coach was just calling the run plays and they were opening up”, said Ohio running back Ryan Boykin, “he told me we were gonna go fast and we did that and the defense I don’t think could keep up”.
Boykin also said afterwards, “It helped in the long run because it was winding the clock down and that’s what we gotta do to get the W”.
The Bobcats might have gotten off to a fast start, but they began to slow down defensively in the second half as Akron began to cut into Ohio’s 20-7 halftime lead. They opened the half with a nine play, 75 yard touchdown drive to make it 20-14. Ohio’s defense started out well in the first half, but they went back to their woeful play in the second half as Akron accumulated 456 yards of total offense. Quarterback Dalton Williams was just two yards shy of 300 yards on the day and Jawon Chisholm racked up 177 rushing yards out of the backfield.
“It was a game that had its ups and downs” said coach Solich on Ohio’s play, “I think we controlled their passing game….a little bit”.
Ohio’s defense was sufficient enough in the end, as the Bobcats were able to hold off Akron’s second half rally. After their 34-28 victory over Akron, Ohio now heads into their bye week at 7-0 and 3-0 in the MAC. This was a much needed week off, as the Bobcats now have two weeks to take a break and get some players healthy for the rest of the season.
“They deserve a rest. We’re gonna give them Sunday off, Monday off, Tuesday off from football and the only thing they’ll have is the training room open so that anybody can come over and get treatment”, Solich said about the upcoming off week. “Other than that, we don’t wanna see them. Want them to get away from it for a little bit. We won’t come back to practice until Thursday”.
Ohio next game is on the road, in Oxford, in two weeks to take on the Miami Redhawks. This years “Battle of the Bricks” proves to be an interesting contest between the two teams since Ohio’s defense will once again be challenged by another strong quarterback in Zac Dysert. Miami is 29th in the nation in passing, averaging 290.8 yards per game, proving to be a tough task of Ohio. They were able to make enough stops against Akron, but still showed weak points by giving up large chunks of yards.
Now at a top 25 ranking in the AP Polls this week, Ohio’s main concern right now should be to get healthy and get some much needed rest. It seems coach Frank Solich is taking the right steps in doing so, which should bode well for the undefeated Bobcats heading into a pivotal rivalry game.