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Defense comes up big in 14-10 Ohio win at Kent State

Bobcats stop Golden Flashes inside 5-yard line late


KENT – Ohio’s defense saved the day Saturday at Kent State.

The Bobcats held the Golden Flashes inside the 5-yard line late in the fourth quarter following Ohio’s third turnover and managed a 14-10 victory at Dix Stadium.

Papi White fumbled a punt, and Kent State recovered at the Ohio 11-yard line. Quarterback Nick Holley gained 7 yards on two runs to the 4, but he was dropped by Quentin Poling for a loss of 3 yards and then threw incomplete on fourth down with 3:45 remaining. Dorian Brown and the Bobcats managed to run out the clock to secure the win.

“It was a very tough, physical football game,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said. “You don’t win that game unless you’ re a tough football team. … Our defense rose up and did what they had to do for us to win in at the end. Our offensive put together some first downs at the end of the game that was crucial for victory.”

Ohio was in position to blow out Kent State in the first half, leading 14-0 when Maleek Irons broke a 60-yard run to the 6. Two plays later, though, Irons fumbled, and the Golden Flashes’ Kent Bourne recovered. The Bobcats did not score again in the game.

Kent State followed with its only successful drive of the first half, but it ended 5 yards short of the end zone when Kevin Robbins tackled Justin Rankin after a gain of only a yard on third-and-goal. The Golden Flashes settled for a 22-yard Shane Hynes field goal to make it 14-3 just seconds before halftime.

But it could have been much worse for Kent State. Only 2 yards away from behind down three touchdowns, the Golden Flashes came out in the second half with another long drive, this time getting a touchdown on a 3-yard Holley run on third-and-goal, making it 14-10.

Kent State converted a third-and-21 with a 31-yard completion to Brice Fackler, made good on four other third downs on the drive and also converted a fourth-and-1 along the way.

Making his first career start, redshirt freshman Quinton Maxwell was picked off by Jerrell Foster, given the Golden Flashes their first good chance at taking the lead. Despite Javon Hagan’s interception being wiped out by a roughing the passer penalty on Blair Brown, Ohio’s defense managed a stop after Holley was sacked back to the 32-yard line, where Kent State elected to punt.

Kent State managed only two first downs on four more possessions, one via an Ohio unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Ohio’s second-half offense gained only two first downs until the final possession when Brown was able to run out the clock.

Maxwell finished just 11-of-19 passing for 127 yards while taking over for Greg Windham, who started the Bobcats’ first seven games but was struggling to get the offense moving recently.

“We had some tough field position, got pinned back a couple of times, but honestly I’m going to sit back and take that one on me,” Maxwell said. “There were a couple of times I missed some easy throws and if I made them, we could have continued some drives. We established the run and that really helps when you’re on the road.”

Helped by a strong running game, Maxwell’s first half was promising. Brown broke a 49-yard touchdown run on Ohio’s second possession to make it 7-0, and early in the second quarter, the Bobcats extended their lead with a 12-play, 81-yard drive. Maxwell converted a third-and-4 with a 34-yard pass to Sebastian Smith and a third-and-5 with a 6-yard run before Irons scored on a 4-yard run.

Brown finished with 110 yards rushing on 12 carries, while Irons had 13 carries for 83 yards. Smith made four catches for 58 yards.

As he has been most of the year, Holley was almost the entirety of the Kent State offense, rushing 41 times for 159 yards. Kent State netted 4 yards rushing on eight carries by other players. Holley was not very effective passing, finishing 12 of 29 for 101 yards.

“Holley is a very mobile guy and we had to keep him in the pocket as much as possible to prevent the run,” Ohio’s Tarrel Basham said. “Holley reminds he of Speedy Gonzalez. I had him in my hands a few times a couple of times and he just ran out of them; he is a very fast and elusive guy. It was a tough game but that’s the games we live for.”

Ohio outgained Kent State, 335-264, and overcame eight penalties for 83 yards. The teams combined for 16 punts.

Bashem led the Bobcats on defense with nine tackles, including two for loss, one of them a sack. Toran Davis and Blair Brown also had nine tackles.

The Bobcats remain tied atop the MAC East following Akron’s 35-25 victory against Ball State.

Ohio has a short turnaround before playing Toledo at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Glass Bowl on CBS Sports Network.






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