After a big win last week against Marshall, the Ohio Bobcats remained undefeated on the year, beating the Southeastern Louisiana Lions 35-14 on Saturday, Sept. 19 at Peden Stadium.
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins for the Bobcats, but it was one they seemingly wanted to make interesting down the stretch. Everything seemed to be going well for the Bobcats for the first 30 minutes of the game. Ohio had a 21-0 lead and was shutting down one of the best rushing attacks in the nation, holding the Lions to 31 yards on 15 attempts through those first 30 minutes.
Then, the Bobcats took their foot off the pedal and allowed the Lions to make what seemed to be a blowout turn into an actual game. With the Bobcats offense stalling in the second half, Southern Louisiana took advantage, scoring on consecutive drives late in the second half to cut Ohio’s lead from 21 to seven.
“I knew it would not be easy (getting the win),” said Ohio football coach Frank Solich. “But I wanted it to be.”
With the Lions starting to find their rhythm on offense and putting the Bobcats on their heels, Ohio needed a spark to take control of the game again. Ohio didn’t need to look far to find a jump start to its offense, as freshman Papi White made sure this game would remain in the Bobcats favor.
After the Lions scored their second touchdown of the game, Ohio had the ball at its own 42-yard line. White would get the handoff on a jet sweep, found a hole and used his speed to get to the outside and blow by the Lions’ defense and into the end zone for a touchdown to put the Bobcats back on top by 14.
“(White) got that kind of ability,” Solich said. “He is an explosive player.”
White’s spark was not only big for the Bobcats’ offense, but also big enough for mother nature to come calling. A few plays after White’s touchdown, lightning began to appear, leading to a lengthy delay in the game with 8:05 left in the game.
After the delay the Bobcats offense started where it left off, with Ohio quarterback Derrius Vick connecting with Brendan Cope for a 67-yard touchdown, officially putting a stamp on the win against the Lions.
Although the Bobcats weren’t as flashy as they’ve been, their offense used more than a few big plays to get points on the board. Outside of White’s touchdown run and the long reception after the delay, Vick had two more throws of 30-plus yards; one for a touchdown on fourth down and another on a third-and-17.
“We have guys that can make really big plays, and that’s critical,” Solich said.
Vick’s ability to throw the ball deep and open up the secondary was big, not just for the Bobcats, but essential for him in distancing himself from JD Sprague in the OU quarterback battle. Vick went 17-of-24 for a career-high 327 yards and two touchdowns. Part of Vick’s success revolved around the vertical passing game, thanks in part to the confidence in his receivers.
“We have (receivers) on the outside that we believe in,” Vick said. “That’s what happened today; we had playmakers.”
The game was not something that was satisfied with some of the Bobcats, even with Vick and the game he had. But when it was said and done, Vick made note that the Bobcats did what was needed to be done this week.
“At the end of the day, you just go week-by-week trying to get a W, and that’s what happened this week,” Vick said.