Bobcats hold on to beat Zips, 34-28
By Lonnie McMillan / Contributor
Saturday, October 13, 2012
ATHENS, Ohio – Ohio built a 20-point lead and held on in the fourth quarter to remain undefeated with a 34-28 homecoming victory against Akron on Saturday at Peden Stadium.
The Bobcats (7-0, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) led 20-0 in the first half and 34-14 in the fourth quarter, but did not lock up the victory until surviving a late onside kick and then gaining a first down to be able to run out the clock.
Jerrod Dillard caught touchdown passes of 6 and 5 yards in the fourth quarter from quarterback Dalton Williams to help the Zips (1-6, 0-3 MAC) make it close. His final score on fourth-and-goal made it 34-28 with 1:55 remaining.
Robert Stein’s onside kick attempt bounced past several players before going out of bounds, allowing Ohio to keep possession. Ryan Boykin powered for a first down that allowed the Bobcats to go into victory formation for the final two plays.
“We were in position to really take charge of the football game and we let that slip away from us so that was very disappointing,” Ohio coach Frank Solcih said. “We’re very pleased to be 7-0. That’s not easy to do. We know that every game will be a challenge. We’ll have to play well and find a way to finish things off better, certainly better than we did today, but they have found a way to win football games and for that I commend them.”
Beau Blankenship rushed for 108 yards on 17 carries and Boykin added 96 yards on 19 attempts. Tettleton added 65 yards on 12 carries, finally getting the green light to run the ball after recovering from an injury, but he was only 13 of 27 passing for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
However, Ohio did manage passing yards on a trick play on its first drive, with a wide receiver reverse pass from Landon Smith to Tettleton going for a 39-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead.
“It just seemed like the ball was in the air forever and I was just telling myself don’t drop it or don’t trip,” Tettleton said. “We’ve been repping that play quite a bit and I’m glad it was called. Landon threw a great ball and it was a great call.”
Donte Foster caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Tettleton on Ohio’s next possession for a 14-0 lead and the Bobcats got Matt Weller field goals of 44 and 29 yards in the second quarter, the second one with 44 seconds left in the half giving the Bobcats a 20-0 lead.
The Zips quickly made a game of it again, driving quickly up the field and scoring before halftime on a Dalton Williams 19-yard pass to L.T. Smith. They cut their deficit to six by scoring on the opening drive of the second half, with Williams hooking up with Aaron Williams for a 10-yard score.
Personal foul penalties played a part in both Zips drives. A late hit by Larenzo Fisher aided the late first-half drive, while Carl Jones was called for a personal foul on the opening drive of the second half, swinging at an Akron player and getting ejected from the game.
Solich said the penalties were deserved, but he is not sure if Jones will have to sit out more time based on MAC rules. Either way, both were detrimental.
“Those penalties, the one out of bounds hit, that one, they were really very costly to our momentum and being able to extend the lead,” he said.
However, Ohio did bounce back and seemingly regained control by going on a 96-yard scoring drive after forcing Akron to punt on its next possession.
Blankenship carried on seven straight plays and Tettleton capped things off with a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Troy Hill, who finished with five catches for 52 yards.
Williams was intercepted by Octavious Leftwich on the Zips’ first play of the next drive, and that led to another touchdown for the Bobcats. This time it was Boykin who carried the load, rushing on six straight plays and then scoring on a 5-yard touchdown run with 37 seconds left in the third quarter to make it 34-14.
The Zips did not roll over, though, forcing Ohio to go three-and-out on three straight possessions, including one where Derrius Vick replaced Tettleton at quarterback.
“We played conservative and it’s probably something we shouldn’t do and obviously we don’t have control of that,” Tettleton said.
Solich said the Bobcats were so successful running the ball on the two previous drives that he expected the trend to continue.
“We had those two long drives by running the football, so it just seems you want to keep running the football and think you’re going to get the same results, but the same results weren’t coming after those two long drives,” he said.
Leading 34-20, the Bobcats forced a fourth-down incompletion, taking possession of the ball at the Akron 40-yard line with only 4:56 remaining. Akron got another quick stop, however, and ended up with a short field of its own, taking over at the Ohio 43-yard line, after punter Grant Venham could not handle the snap on fourth down.
Three weeks in a row, the Bobcats have struggled to put away a MAC opponent that entered with one or less wins.
Dalton Williams was 32 of 53 passing for 298 yards and four scores, while Jawon Chisholm carried 28 times for 177 yards to lead Akron.
Jelani Wosely led Ohio’s defense with 14 tackles, including a sack among 2.5 tackles for loss. Keith Moore had a first-half interception.
Injuries likely have played a part in Ohio’s inability to close out inferior opponents, and Solich said the upcoming bye week will be good for his team.
“They deserve a rest,” he said. “We’re going to give them tomorrow off, Monday off and Tuesday off from football. They’ll have the training room open so they can get training, but other than that, we don’t want to see them. Wednesday, we’ll bring them back and maybe get a lift in and maybe do a little running. We’ll practice Thursday and Friday and have Saturday and Sunday off and then get back to practice Monday to get ready for Miami.”
The Bobcats face the rival RedHawks at 2 p.m. Oct. 27 at Miami.