The Ohio Bobcats (5-2, 2-1) played against many odds Saturday when the football team traveled to Ypsilanti, Mich. to take on the Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-6, 0-3). A rough Homecoming defeat handed to the ‘Cats by the Central Michigan Chippewas a week prior coupled with the emotional effects going into the game following the death of Eagles starting wide receiver Demarius Reed, Ohio was going to have to come into an away environment with their heads on straight.
As Solich trains his men.
After fighting a hard-fought battle with the Eagles — that almost lasted the whole length of the game — Ohio cornerback Devin Bass was able to critically intercept EMU quarterback Tyler Benz’s end zone go-ahead attempt for the decisive score, sparking the 56-28 Ohio victory.
Before, the game was knotted up at 21 apiece in the third quarter with just over 20 minutes remaining to play. Bass’ score encouraged his teammates, leading to a fourth-quarter rout of the Eagles.
“That interception was key, and then offensively we started to roll and put big plays together,” Ohio head football coach Frank Solich said. “Once we started doing that, we put points on the board and separated ourselves enough to make it really not a contest at the end.”
The following play set the ‘Cats up at the Eagles’ 20-yard line, looking at a confused scoreboard. Were the Green and White going to be able to prove that they can still beat down on the worst of the MAC, or would one phase’s (offense, defense and special teams) downfall lead to another heartbreaking loss?
Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton quickly answered that question with a defiant Yes. An 80-yard bomb to wide receiver Chase Cochran gave Ohio the 28-21 advantage with 4:58 remaining in the third quarter. Tettleton’s huge day — 23-of-30 for 375 yards (fourth-best in Ohio history), four touchdowns (career-best) and monumental achievement (first Ohio quarterback to surpass 8,000 yards passing) — proved to be the pulse that responded to the kick that Bass stirred up within the offense.
The team was able to outscore, out-hustle and dominate the Eagles all in less than the final 20 minutes, changing a tie game to a 35-7 gigantic momentum swing for the Bobcats that was provided by the defensive unit at the precise time.
Even after being at the center of a crucial turnover in the loss against Central Michigan, safety Travis Carrie was able to step up for the special teams with a personal-best 79-yard punt return earlier on in the game that initially sparked Ohio’s offense. His veteran leadership produced an eight-yard Beau Blankenship touchdown run on the next play, giving the ‘Cats a 21-7 lead early on in the game.
Even though Ohio had to dig themselves out of a hole after surrendering two straight scores, Carrie still made sure the special teams held their end in the early portion of the game.
Each phase producing when they needed to led to the most points scored in the Frank Solich era, so the key now is consistency.
Ohio will be traveling back home to host the Miami RedHawks (0-7, 0-3) at 2 p.m. at Peden Stadium this upcoming Saturday, looking to replicate the success that the three early “phase” leaders — Tettleton, Bass and Carrie — had against the Eagles.