The Ohio Bobcats have been missing that certain spark the past four games. During the team’s three losses over that span the ‘Cats had been outscored by 57 points and the offense was a stagnant mess. After all, the team had been without its initial starting quarterback Derrius Vick until he came off the bench against Western Michigan last week and running back A.J. Ouellette had been dealing with injury problems of his own.
Ohio’s misfortunes quickly changed when Vick was inserted as the starter for the first time since Sept. 20 after suffering an ankle injury and a semi-healthy Ouellette returning to the field full time. From the onset they commanded the offense to 10 first quarter points, setting the pace for a 37-14 blowout of the Buffalo Bulls at Peden Stadium on Wednesday night.
“We were able to get off to a pretty good start, which is something we haven’t always done,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said. “It seems like when we do we do play better as the game goes along.”
Following the kickoff Vick set up under center and got to work immediately. A 47-yard completion to wide receiver Chase Cochran set up a 33-yard Josiah Yazdani field goal to put the Bobcats on the scoreboard first.
Although Vick’s leadership was evident from the opening snap, miscues by the Bulls also led to multiple Ohio scores. Following a Bobcat three-and-out, Buffalo’s Jacob Martinez muffed a punt that would be recovered by Ohio at the Buffalo 22-yard line. Ouellette made good off the turnover by finding the end zone from two yards out to put Ohio up 10-0.
“Having a healthy A.J. who has taken over the (starting) job and shown that he’s the man is probably the most positive thing for our offense,” Vick said. “He gives us a spark and you can see in the way he runs that he never gives up.”
Ouellette and the Bobcat rushing attack were the deciding factors in piling on the points against the Bulls. Ouellette, a true freshman, added his second touchdown on the night near the beginning of the second quarter to help Ohio pitch a 17-0 shutout going into the second half. Ouellette finished the day compiling 155 rushing yards.
“It was a great day for the o-line,” Vick said.
Overall it was a great day for the entire Ohio Bobcats football team. Between the special teams and defensive units the ‘Cats forced four turnovers, which resulted in 17 points for Ohio. Defensive back Ian Wells, the leader of the Bobcat defense on Wednesday, accounted for recovering one Buffalo fumble near the beginning of the second half that set up Vick for a nine-yard touchdown scramble to give Ohio a more than comfortable 27-0 lead.
“I feel like we came together and realized what’s at stake,” Wells said. “We don’t just owe it to ourselves, to our teammates but we also owe it to people who have passed it down to us, previous players.”
Although Buffalo scored twice late in the game, Ohio controlled the game through and through for the first time all season. The team finally clicked as a unit, and Solich took note of that postgame.
“It was a little bit of a different team out there,” Solich said. “We’ve recognized what we needed to do to play better football and to give ourselves a better chance of winning.”