Blankenship helps Ohio slip past UMass, 37-34
Running back carries 43 times for 269 yards, 2 TDs
By Lonnie McMillan / Contributor
Saturday, September 29, 2012
FOXBORO, Mass. – Beau Blankenship rushed for 269 yards and two touchdowns and Ohio held on to win a back-and-forth game against Massachusetts, 37-34, on Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
Blankenship carried 43 times, breaking the 100-yard mark for the fifth straight time, to help the Bobcats overcome 373 passing yards and four touchdowns by Mike Wegzyn. It gave the Bobcats their first 5-0 start since 1968 as they slipped past the Minutemen, in their first full year at the FBS level and 25-point underdogs.
Ohio’s defense held UMass at the Bobcats 45-yard line, forcing four straight incompletions with less than 30 seconds remaining.
The Bobcats trailed 27-20 late in the third quarter, but Blankenship tied it on a 5-yard touchdown run and Matt Weller put Ohio on top with a 26-yard field goal with 9:35 remaining. Blankenship’s 40-yard touchdown run made it a two-score game for the first time with 6:13 to go.
The Minutemen (0-5, 0-2 Mid-American Conference) came right back with a quick score. Wegzyn connected with Alan Williams for an 11-yard touchdown pass with still 3:23 remaining. It was the third touchdown of the game for Williams, who had seven catches for 127 yards.
Blankenship rushed for one first down, but with UMass burned its final two timeouts and forced a punt, taking over at its own 17-yard line with 50 seconds to go. Williams had a 23-yard reception and a roughing the passer penalty pushed the ball across midfield before the drive stalled, leaving Ohio to take a knee to close out the win.
Wegzyn and Williams connected on a 27-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter and the Minutemen held the lead for most of the first half. Weller had field goals of 27 and 24 yards, with a 30-yard Blake Lucas field goal in between, to make it 10-6, before Ohio took the lead for the first time on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Tettleton to Troy Hill.
Williams scored a 50-yard touchdown to put UMass back on top, but Ohio took a 20-17 lead into the break on a 41-yard scoring pass from Tettelton to Chase Cochran. It came after a fourth-and-1 converted by inches on a Tettleton run.
The Minutemen regained the lead on a 26-yard pass to Deion Walker, who finished with 11 receptions for 162 yards. UMass threatened to go up by two scores, but the Ohio defense held the Minutemen to a Lucas 23-yard field goal that made the score 27-20.
On third-and-18, Tettleton hooked up with Donte Foster for a 16-yard gain to the UMass 28-yard line. From there, the Bobcats converted with a 4-yard pass to Jordan Thompson on the final play of the third quarter. That helped set up Blankenship’s first touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, tying the game.
A holding penalty pushed back the Minutemen on their next drive and Ryan Clark had a 17-yard punt return across midfield, leading to Weller’s third field goal of less than 30 yards in the game. After forcing a punt, the Bobcats went up 10 when Blankenship broke free for his second score.
The game featured only one turnover, a lost fumble by Michael Cox, recovered by Larenzo Fisher at the UMass 27-yard line early in the second half. Ohio did not take advantage, though, as Weller’s 33-yard field goal try was blocked, leaving UMass with a four-point lead at the time.
Wegzyn had not thrown a touchdown pass in his first four games and entered with four interceptions but did not throw any against Ohio. He was 27 of 51. Tight end Rob Blanchflower made five receptions for 80 yards, while Cox ran 22 times for 80 yards.
Tettleton, who sat out Ohio’s 44-10 victory against Norfolk State last week, was 15 of 27 for 229 yards. Foster had four catches for 55 yards.
Safety Xavier Hughes led Ohio’s defense with eight tackles, including two for loss. All four of Neal Huynh’s tackles were for loss, including one for a sack.
Perry McIntyre made 14 tackles to lead the Minutemen. Joe Colton and Kassan Messiah had 12 each.
Ohio returns home to take on Buffalo at 12 p.m. Saturday.