With less than five minutes remaining on the clock and the Ohio Bobcats (1-1) facing a third-and-3 on its 48-yard line, up by only a field goal on the North Texas Mean Green (1-1), the ‘Cats were in fear of blowing a two-touchdown lead and beginning the season with their second straight loss. Cocking back and looking toward his deep threat and primary target for the evening, quarterback Tyler Tettleton zipped a 23-yard spiral that was carefully corralled by Chase Cochran for the game-clinching moment that put Ohio in field-goal territory.
The punch that the Bobcats lacked in week one may have been due to rust, asbig plays fueled the Green and White’s early jump on the Mean Green in its 27-21 victory Saturday night at Peden Stadium. Tettleton and the offense were able to get out in front right away with a 75-yard touchdown strike to Cochran on the first play from scrimmage. Despite failing to get any ground game established in week one, the play-action fake worked wonders in front of 24,511 fans.
“With Chase and the fact that there are generally four across, it gives you the opportunity to get him one-on-one deep,” head coach Frank Solich said. “So that’s what we were looking for.”
Even though the offense only managed to put up just seven points last week, the defense was outworked for seven scores. Against North Texas, Ohio was looking to physically outwork the Mean Green to get back on track. Black and green blurs swarmed to North Texas quarterback Derek Thompson all night in hopes of stirring up turnovers. Defensive lineman Nic Barber was first to strike after delivering a punishing hit from behind on running back Reggie Pegram, and linebacker Jovon Johnson was at the 27-yard line to recover the fumble.
“We just tried to stop the momentum that they were gaining and turn it around and get our momentum back,” Johnson said of the North Texas offense.
The goal for the Bobcats in week two was to not look back following one of the most lopsided defeats in program history. That was evident from Ohio’s response to the Mean Green’s first score. Running back Ryan Boykin, who racked up 48 yards on a 10-play, 72-yard drive, took a Tettleton dump pass 10 yards to retain the lead, 14-7.
“Last week we didn’t produce as much as we had liked to,” Boykin said. “ We know we’re a good team, so it’s how good can we be.”
The aggressiveness that was missing in Louisville was not disguised Saturday night, as Johnson did his offense a second favor by jumping on a Thompson pass and taking it back for the 36-yard score to extend the Bobcat lead to 14. The team held North Texas to 0-7 on third down attempts in the first half to comfortably take a 21-7 lead into halftime.
A lively rushing attack was present for the Bobcats on Saturday, and the patience from Beau Blankenship and Boykin started to pay off beginning in the third quarter. The duo racked up 51 of their 176 yards on the ground in the third frame, but latching on to the running game caused the ‘Cats offense to slow down.
That allowed North Texas back into the contest.
“In order to gather (the momentum) back, you have to have some guys that have something about them that are not only going to get it done themselves but keep encouraging the other guys to keep going and keep battling,” Solich proclaimed.
A score and two Tettleton interceptions gave the Mean Green a shot at knotting up the game at the beginning of the fourth. A six-yard pass from Thompson to wide receiver Darnell Smith tied things up at 21 apiece with 12:51 to go in the contest. The play capped an eight-play, 86-yard drive.
Tettleton and the offense have been in this position before; within one score of the opponent in the final 15 minutes of play. Before tonight, Ohio’s quarterback was 9-4 in games decided by a score or less, but with an uneasy kicker who had converted on his last attempt, experience wasn’t on everyone’s side. Marching the team down to the five-yard line, kicker Matt Green was able to put his team ahead by six points with less than two minutes to play.
“I think everybody knew that it was going to be a late fourth quarter battle,” Tettleton said. “We did a good job all around – offense, defense, special teams – of getting it done.”
Tettleton finished the game 19-of-30 for 239 yards and two passing touchdowns.
The ‘Cats will continue their Battle of the Bell series with the Marshall Thundering Herd (2-0) with the team’s second of three consecutive home games next Saturday at 8 p.m.
- The 24,511 that were in attendance at Peden Stadium on Saturday night was the fifth-largest crowd in stadium history
- Safety Josh Kristoff led the Bobcats with 10 total tackles
- Cochran hauled in a team-high six catches for 103 yards and one score
- Tettleton improved his record in games decided by one score or less to 10-4 with Saturday’s victory over the Mean Green
- The ‘Cats had 169 more yards of total offense than they did last week against Louisville
- Brelan Chancellor, who hauled in six catches for 135 yards and one score last week, was limited to one catch for 33 yards