Updated Sun, Aug 31, 2014 2:19 pm
When quarterback Derrius Vick was named Ohio’s starting quarterback for the 2014 opener, he had only one career-start under his belt, and it was against FCS Norfolk State in 2012.
In his second-career start against Kent State on Saturday, Vick looked like a seasoned veteran in the pocket. He led the Bobcats on a 44-yard drive that ended with a game-winning, 44-yard field goal by Josiah Yazdani that gave Ohio the 17-14 victory at Dix Stadium.
Vick completed 18 of his 24 pass attempts for 262 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball eight times for 35 yards, including a key seven-yard gain on a third down with just over one minute to play.
“I thought it was a great performance by Derrius,” Ohio head coach Frank Solich said. “He threw the ball really well, kept drives alive, and also ran very well at times when we needed it.”
After Ohio (1-0, 1-0) stalled on its opening drive, Vick led the offense on an 87-yard drive that started with a 58-yard completion to receiver Brendan Cope and put Ohio on the Kent State 25-yard line. Three plays later, Vick hooked up with senior receiver Landon Smith over the middle for a 23-yard touchdown pass to put Ohio up 7-0 early in the first quarter.
On Kent State’s (0-1, 0-1) next possession the Flashes put together a long drive of their own, going 75 yards in eight plays. It was capped off by an eight-yard touchdown pass from Collin Reardon to Josh Boyle that tied the game at 7-7 with 5:58 to play in the first quarter.
Ohio’s first big break came midway through the second quarter, when Kent State was penalized for having two players with the same jersey number on the field at the same time on the punt coverage. The penalty gave Ohio an automatic first down and a second chance at the drive.
The ‘Cats didn’t waste Kent’s gift, as Vick found Smith again on a five-yard slant into the end zone for a touchdown to give the Bobcats a 14-7 lead that they would take to halftime.
The second half was a frustrating one for the Bobcats, as running backs Tim Edmond, Daz Patterson, and Dorian Brown fumbled the ball a combined four times, all coming in Kent State territory.
Fortunately for the Bobcats’ their defense stepped in.
Throughout the summer, the coaches raved about the depth and experience of the ‘Cats defense, and it showed up Saturday. Ohio stalled the Golden Flashes momentum after all but one of Ohio’s fumbles. The defense also held the Golden Flashes offense to less than 300 yards of total offense, including just 31 yards on the ground.
“We have a lot of defensive depth, so we were able to keep some pretty fresh guys in there,” Solich said. “[Kent State] is a really good offensive football team, and they [eventually] found some spots to throw the ball to. But if our defense didn’t play as well as they did, we wouldn’t have had a chance [to win] today with four turnovers.”
Redshirt junior linebacker Jovon Johnson led the charge on defense, recording a team-high 11 tackles.
The defense finally did break late in the fourth quarter, allowing an 11-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Reardon to receiver Chris Humphrey to tie the game at 14-14 with just 3:30 left.
Accounting for his running backs’ ball-security issues, Solich called on walk-on freshman A.J. Ouellette to run out the clock. He carried the ball six times for 29 yards, including a four-yard rush that put the ball on Kent State’s 27-yard line with just three seconds left in the game.
That set up Yazdani’s game-winning field goal from the left-hash.
“I knew it was money as soon as my toe touched the ball,” Yazdani said. “I don’t even know if I saw the ball I just glanced up and saw where it was headed and turned and ran around.”