By Taylor Greik
What do you think of when you see the Ohio Bobcats play on Saturday? I see a great second half team with very poor performances in the first half of each game. Well, nothing changed this Saturday folks. After another anemic first half, Ohio was able to knock off the Buffalo Bulls 38-31 at Peden Stadium.
Ohio was coming off of a very close call at new Mid-American Conference opponent UMass, as they squeaked out a 37-34 win on the road last week. Ohio has been dealing with several injuries on both sides of the ball, but it really shows on the defensive side of the ball as this defense continued to struggle on Saturday.
In the first quarter, Buffalo was able to establish a solid running attack right from the get-go. They slashed the Ohio defense for 131 yards on 18 carries in the first quarter alone. Ohio had no answer to Buffalo’s high powered offense as the Bulls recorded drives of 75 and 93 yards on their first two drives respectively. Ohio was in such a funk in the early going of this game that it took a 100 yard Daz Patterson kick return to get the ‘Cats back into the ball game. Before the long return for six, the Ohio offense was off to a slow start as well, as Quarterback Tyler Tettleton threw his first interception of the season and Beau Blankenship was only able to gain 14 yards on the ground.
After Patterson’s touchdown off of the kickoff, Ohio’s offense got a much needed jump start to their day, as they were able to put up two more touchdowns in the second quarter. Tettleton threw a 15 yard strike to receiver Tyler Futrell, and a few minutes later, Beau Blankenship found pay-dirt on a 14 yard dash to the house. Ohio took a 21-14 lead into the half.
Ohio was able to put forth a strong second half after 30 minutes of play. Tyler Tettleton steadied the Ohio attack with 6/15 passing for 99 ids in the second half, while the Bobcats successfully unveiled their two headed monster of a running attack for the first time this year.
To start the third quarter, Ryan Boykin returned from injury and made his first appearance of the season. Boykin split the second half carries with Beau Blankenship, who came into the game ranked second in the entire nation for rushing yards. Beau still had the majority of the carries for the game, 26 carries for 89 yards and a touchdown, but Boykin had a huge impact in the game’s result as he racked up 64 yards rushing on six carries including two clutch fourth quarter touchdowns. Boykin’s second touchdown from 51 yards out with 5:56 left was the clincher for the Bobcats as Buffalo was never able to recover.
Now a lot of people may see that it is not really fair to pick apart this defense as they are dealing with a lot of injuries, but even the Ohio players feel that they need to play better. “We’re suffering with a lot of injuries, we just gotta step up and make a lot more plays as a team”, said Wide Receiver Bukari Bussey after the game, “We finally had depth which has always been a problem in the past.” To add to Ohio’s injury woes, Ohio lost one of their senior captains, TE Jordan Thompson, for the season with an apparent leg injury. Ohio has given up over 500 total yards of offense for the second consecutive week; they gave up 503 yards to Massachusetts last week and 501 yards to Buffalo on Saturday. 313 of those total yards for Buffalo were on the ground for an average of 5.6 yards per carry, totaling the most rushing yards allowed by Ohio so far this season. Buffalo dominated the time of possession by an 11:02 margin and they were 11-19 on third down plays. There seems to be a lot of holes to patch up on Ohio’s defense.
Regardless of Ohio’s shaky performance at home on Saturday, the ‘Cats are now 6-0, 2-0 in the MAC, and became the first team in the entire country to become bowl eligible. Any football coach and team in the nation would believe in the old saying “A win is a win” and coach Frank Solich relayed that after the game as he “couldn’t be more pleased with winning this game regardless of how we win them”.
The bobcats look to ride that belief into next week as they are lined up to face the Akron Zips (1-5, 0-2 MAC) for their homecoming game.
If Ohio can keep winning games they will be in good shape as far as the conference standings go and they will keep gaining more votes in the coaches polls and the Associated Press Top 25 rankings.