Final Score: Ohio 34 , Buffalo 10
The records: Ohio (7-3, 3-1, 1st in Mac East), Buffalo (2-7, 1-4, 4th in Mac East)
You knew it was over when: Quinton Maxwell’s one-yard touchdown run (the only score of the second half), gave Ohio a 34-10 advantage which would stand as the final score.
Fast start: Ohio built a 20-0 lead in the first half, thanks in large part to explosive plays. On the first snap of the game, Maxwell hit Papi White for a 73-yard touchdown to give the Bobcats a 7-0 lead. Later in the first quarter, Javon Hagan’s 60-yard interception return set up the first of two Louie Zervos’ field goals.
No Windham, no problem: Quarterback Greg Windham missed the win over Buffalo with a leg injury, giving Maxwell the reigns of the offense. The 6’3” freshman responded to throw for a season-best 221 yards and three touchdowns (one rushing).
White’s big day: Ohio’s running backs are finally healthy, which has allowed Papi White to be more of a factor in the receiving unit. Following the 73-yard, opening-play touchdown, White finished the night with six catches for 113 yards, his second time hitting the century mark (week one vs. Texas State) this season. He is averaging 15.2 yards per reception this year.
Keying in on Johnson: Buffalo running back Jordan Johnson came to Athens on Thursday as the reigning MAC-East Player of the Week after running for 282 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Akron on Oct. 27th. Ohio’s defense would not allow a repeat performance by Johnson, however, holding the senior to just 59 yards on 17 carries. If you take away Johnson’ s 25-yard run in the second half, he only managed just over two yards per carry.
Sack lunch: Senior defensive lineman Tarell Basham recorded 1.5 sacks in the win, tying Ohio’s season-sack record of nine. Linebacker Blair Brown led the way with 11 tackles and two sacks. The Bobcats lead the conference with 35 total sacks this season.
‘Cats dominate special teams: The third phase of the game played a big part in Ohio’s 17-point halftime lead. Zervos hit two field goals, including a career-long 51-yarder. Meanwhile, the night was not kind to Buffalo kicker Adam Mitcheson, who pushed a 38-yard field goal in the first quarter and had a 20-yard attempt blocked on the final play of the first half.
One of Ohio’s two takeaways came courtesy of the kickoff coverage team. Following Maleek Irons’ one-yard touchdown that put the ‘Cats up 17-7, Buffalo’s Jamarl Eiland fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Ohio’s Cody Grilliot recovered.
Party like its 1968: Not since the Lyndon B. Johnson administration has Ohio won a conference championship, but 2016 — a year of curses being broken — may bring an end to that. Thanks to Toledo’s win over Akron on Wednesday night, the Bobcats hold a two-game lead on the Zips in the East with two to play.
Ohio and Akron meet at Peden Stadium on Nov. 22nd. One win (or one Akron loss) in the next two weeks will put Ohio in the conference championship game for the third time under Frank Solich. The Bobcats lost the conference title in 2006 & 2009 to Central Michigan and in 2011 to Northern Illinois.
What’s next? Ohio can secure its place in the MAC title game with a win in Mt. Pleasant, MI next Thursday over Central Michigan. The Chippewas (5-4, 2-3) have lost four of its last six games. The two team’s last meeting was on Oct. 4, 2014, a 28-10 CMU victory.