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Yazdani's field goal as time expires helps Ohio overcome fumbles

Bobcats win despite 4 2nd-half turnovers

KENT – Josiah Yazdani connected on a 44-yard field goal as time expired and Ohio overcame four second-half lost fumbles to defeat Kent State, 17-14, in its season opener Saturday at Dix Stadium.

“This is a great group of guys,” Solich said. “It’s been that way through winter conditioning and spring ball. I knew this was a special group in terms of great effort and never giving up. They showed that they are extremely resilient.”

Each of the Bobcats’ second-half possessions ended in turnovers until their final drive, which came after Kent State tied the game at 14 with 3:34 remaining.

“I knew the ball was in the offense’s hands, and that’s all you can ask for at the end of a game,” Vick said.

With Papi White out with a knee injury and Daz’mond Patterson, Tim Edmond and Dorian Brown in the doghouse for losing fumbles, the Bobcats turned to fifth-string running back A.J. Oullette on the game-winning drive and he responded with runs of 9 and 13 yards after a 13-yard completion from Derrius Vick to Landon Smith began the series.

Vick, who finished 18 of 24 for 262 yards, picked up another first down with a 7-yard rush on a third-and-7 draw play, and Ouellette set up Yazdani from the left hash with a 4-yard run to the 27-yard line. After an Ohio timeout with three seconds remaining and two subsequent Kent State timeouts, Yazdani’s kick was perfect with plenty of leg.

“I didn’t have any doubt at all,” Yazdani said. “I knew God had a plan and I knew He would help me succeed and follow through for my team.”

While Vick had an impressive season opener, Smith finished with seven catches for 71 yards and caught both of Ohio’s touchdowns in the first half. But it was the Bobcats defense that stood out more than anything. Kent State finished with only 295 yards of offense, including only 31 yards rushing.

The biggest defensive stand was early in the third quarter when Edmond’s fumble gave Kent State possession only 34 yards away from the end zone. Ohio gave up a pair of pass completions to the 8-yard line, but it held inside the 5 and Anthony Melchiori missed a 20-yard field goal try wide right.

Ohio’s other three fumbles ended promising drives that seemed destined to put points on the board to add to its lead. On possessions in which the Bobcats converted fourth downs, Patterson fumbled at the Kent State 25- and 25-yard lines, while Brown coughed up the ball at the 26-yard line.

The Golden Flashes finally took advantage on their last chance, converting a pair of third-down plays, including a third-and-5 from the Ohio 28-yard line in which Solich challenged the spot of the ball. Two plays later, Chris Humphrey blew past the defense and caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Colin Reardon to make it 14-all.

Smith’s first touchdown catch was a 23-yarder on a third-and-8 play. It was set up by a 58-yard reception by Brendan Cope.

Kent State tied the game on the next possession with an 8-yard pass from Reardon to Josh Boyle with 5:56 remaining in the first quarter.

Ohio’s second touchdown came after a drive was extended on a Kent State penalty for having two players with the same number on the field during a punt. Patterson caught a 38-yard pass down the left sideline on the next play, and that set up a 5-yard touchdown catch by Smith.

Patterson led Ohio’s rushing attack with 17 carries for 61 yards and he added three receptions for 48 yards. Cope’s two catches were good for 71 yards.

Though Kent State had no success rushing the ball – they were led by Anthony Meray’s 19 yards on six attempts – they were able to throw the ball at times. Reardon was 30 of 41 for 264 yards, often dumping the ball off successfully for modest gains. Ernest Calhoun had 11 catches for 62 yards, and Humphrey had 91 yards on six receptions.

Jovon Johnson led Ohio’s defense with 11 tackles, including two of the team’s eight for loss. Nate Holley had 18 tackles, forced two fumbles and recovered one for the Golden Flashes.

“It’s the mold of our team this year,” Vick said. “Our defense played great, our special teams played great and our O-line didn’t give up any pressure, so other than the turnovers, we played a complete game.”

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