Football: Defense rises to the occasion in conference-opening win over Akron

With 2:17 left in the last quarter, the Ohio defense was dealt its’ biggest challenge of the game. After the Bobcats’ fifth straight punt, Akron was left with plenty of field and one more opportunity to score and take the lead. For the defense, it was simple: give up any points, and game over.

And as it’s been all season, the defense stepped up when it needed to, getting consecutive sacks from sophomore Quentin Poling and a pass breakup from senior Ian Wells on a fourth down pass, which ended the Zips’ chance at a win before it could ever get started. This put a stamp on an ugly 14-12 win at InfoCision Stadium.

“As far as we’re concerned, if we lose, it is (the defense’s) fault,” Poling said.

Given a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter, everything seemed to be going in favor of the Bobcats; the offense was at an efficient pace and the defense was shutting down any sort of rushing attack that Akron had. Similar to the last game that the Bobcats played here, everything pointed toward an impressive win to start MAC play.

But then, after gaining a total of 135 yards on its’ first three possessions, the offense turned just as dreary as the gray clouds that hovered over Akron, Ohio throughout the day. Over the final eight possessions, the Bobcats totaled 121 yards of offense and had six punts.

Now, the defense was left with a tall order over the final 48 minutes of the game. Although it wasn’t as sharp as it wanted to be, the defense for the Bobcats defended with everything in their power to make sure they left Stark County with one more win than they came with. Although the Zips would score nine points in that span, none of those points came off of touchdowns, a stat that the players on the defense were proud of.

“Any time that (the opponent) is not in the end zone, that’s a good day for the Bobcats,” Poling said.

Even when the offense couldn’t move the ball much at all, the defense took the pressure of their backs and helped put them in a position to score and put the game out of reach. Poling, who previously made a  a sack on the last possession, intercepted an errant pass from Akron quarterback Thomas Woodson, ran it back into Akron territory and gave Ohio great field position.

As the Bobcats were driving, the offense again failed to put any points on the board, as backup quarterback Greg Windham, who came in for one series after starter Derrius Vick went down with an injury, threw an interception in the endzone and forced the defense to keep up its’ level of play.

Despite a disappointing game from what had been a good offensive so far this year, the defense has held firm as one of the better units in the MAC.  Ohio’s coach Frank Solich, was pleased that his defense could come through yet again.

“The defense rode to the occasion when it had to (in order) to win the football game,” Solich said. “A lot of pats on the back for getting it done that way.”

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