Down 14-0 with just over half of the second quarter to play, the Ohio Bobcats were being blanketed on offense and torched on defense by the Central Michigan Chippewas. Ohio needed to answer, or at least show some signs of production.
On the first play of Ohio’s fifth drive the Bobcats continued to backtrack. Quarterback J.D. Sprague was sacked for a loss of 10 yards, as Ohio’s waltz with failure and defeat continued at Kelly/Shorts Stadium on Saturday. Central Michigan smothered Ohio on Homecoming for the Chippewas, 28-10.
“This was really a team loss today,” Ohio coach Frank Solich. “From the players to the coaches, I don’t think anyone’s exempt from this one.”
Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush exposed Ohio’s porous passing defense from the opening kick and found his favorite target, wide receiver Titus Davis, four times for 109 yards and two touchdowns on the Chippewas’s first two drives. Davis hauled in touchdown catches of four and 32 yards from Rush to give Central Michigan a comforting 14-0 first-quarter lead.
There was no sign of a response to CMU’s initial offensive explosion throughout the first two quarters. In the first half the Bobcats were only able to muster three first downs and 24 yards on 24 plays. Ohio also started the game with six straight punts.
“We just didn’t execute,” Sprague said. “We’ll keep giving effort and energy, but things just didn’t go our way today.”
In comparison, the Chippewas scorched Ohio for 250 yards of first half offense, controlling the ball for nearly 21 minutes.
But just before halftime all did not seem completely lost for the Bobcats. A sack on Rush by Bobcat defensive end Tarell Basham resulted in a fumble and a mad scramble for the ball. Ohio defensive back Kylan Nelson scooped up the ball, and Ohio was suddenly inside the opponent’s 10-yard line.
However, another Bobcat three and out brought out kicker Josiah Yazdani, who put the score at 14-3 just before halftime.
The onslaught of Ohio continued over the final two quarters of play. Central Michigan picked up from where it left off in the first half with a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to start the third quarter. An interception by Bobcat defensive back Devin Bass was overturned in the end zone two plays before CMU running back Thomas Rawls extended his team’s lead to 21-3 with a 15-yard rushing score. Rawls shredded Ohio defenders all game long, finishing with a career-high 229 yards, scoring twice.
“Whenever you don’t stop the run and then they get a passing game going, both floodgates are open and it’s tough to stop then,” Ohio safety Josh Kristoff said.
Ohio’s offense was finally able to get into a mini rhythm with a touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter, but it was much too late in the game for the team to mount any sort of a comeback.
“We’re a pretty banged up football team right now, and I think that has some effect on our team,” Solich said. “But that’s not an excuse for not making this a much more competitive football game.”
The Bobcats will attempt to get back on their feet with a Saturday Homecoming game against Bowling Green. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Peden Stadium.