Football: Ohio’s Resiliency Rings in Battle for the Bell

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In the Battle for the Bell, the Ohio Bobcats did something that they hadn't done in 35 years. The Bobcats defeated the Marshall Thundering Herd at Joan C. Edwards Stadium; it was a feat that Ohio hadn’t accomplished since 1977.

“[It was] a tremendous comeback by our guys tonight, I think they truly believe in one another,” said Ohio head coach Frank Solich. 
With about 11 minutes left in the game, Ohio was faced with a dilemma, and they would prove Solich right. 
It was fourth-and-five from Marshall’s 27-yard line; Ohio was down 24-17. Frank Solich chose to go for it. 
“It was clear that we needed to get the points on the board and a field goal probably wasn’t going to win this thing,” said Solich. 
Solich called a play that was “all slants,” according to Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton. However, the Ohio quarterback had a gut feeling to change up the play call and “tag” Ryan Clark at the line, telling him to go deep for a touchdown pass. Tettleton truly believed in Clark. 
“I was just trusting Clark the whole way,” said Tettleton.
Tettleton led Clark into the end zone with a beautifully thrown ball. The pass glided right over Clark’s shoulder and fell into his hands. Clark secured the ball, got the touchdown and tied up the game up at 24-24.
The Bobcats' defense would face a huge third-and-4 attempt by Marshall on its next drive. The Bobcats sacked Marshall QB Rakeem Cato on the crucial down, Ohio’s Nic Barber and Carl Jones teamed up on the play. 
Marshall’s Tyler Williams then punted 35 yards to Ohio’s 8-yard line.  The Bobcats would go three-and-out on the drive. Venham punted the ball away to Marshall with 5:37 remaining in the game.
The biggest play in the game, according to Solich, came on Ohio’s next defensive outing. 
On a third-and-2 play, Cato completed a pass to Antavious Wilson. Wilson fumbled the ball just seconds after receiving it and Ohio’s Nathan Carpenter swooped in and grabbed the fumble out of the air.  Carpenter took the ball and returned it to the Marshall 31-yard line. 
Carpenter’s play “got [Ohio] back in that ball game,” said Solich. The play instantly shifted momentum to Ohio’s side.
Ohio peppered The Herd with six rushes from Blankenship and a rush from Daz Patterson to get the ball to Marshall's 21-yard line.
Then, Ohio’s calm and collected all-time leading scorer would do what he does best. Matt Weller drilled a 38-yard field goal attempt to give Ohio a 27-24 lead with 1:37 remaining in the game.
“I try to block [the pressure] out and trust in the guys up front, it takes 11, they make it easy," said Weller. "It worked out, it was just another kick."
In a flash of déjà vu, Ohio’s Jelani Wosely picked off Cato on the next drive to seal the deal. The play was eerily similar to Wosely’s game deciding interception at Penn State.  
“At Penn State [Wosely] got it and last week I got it, now we both got it. We’re making a little trend here,” said Nathan Carpenter, referring to Wosely’s interception.
The Penn State comparisons don’t stop there. The Marshall game even started similarly to the Penn State game. The Bobcats faced a deficit early and had to battle back after half time to get the win. 
To begin the game, Ohio won the toss and deferred. Marshall received the kickoff. 
The Thundering Herd came out in a stampede. Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato led the Thundering Herd to a touchdown on the team’s first drive, it took Marshall 12 plays to score. The touchdown came on a three-yard pass to Jazz King.
Ohio went three-and-out on its first drive of the game. Tyler Tettleton threw an incompletion on a third down attempt; Grant Venham punted and downed Marshall on its own 15-yard line.
Marshall came out firing again; Cato led them to another touchdown. On the score, Cato completed a three-yard slant to Aaron Dobson. Marshall led 14-0.
Ohio got hit in the mouth early. But, the Bobcats didn’t get discouraged.
Ohio's defense stepped up and forced a punt. Ryan Clark returned it to the Ohio 33-yard line. Beau Blankenship got the offense going after a few nice carries. 
Tettleton completed a big third down pass to Clark to keep Ohio’s drive alive. The Ohio QB then evaded a sack and rushed for six yards. He completed a pass to Troy Hill to put Ohio on Marshall’s 6-yard line. 
Troy Hill hauled in his first career touchdown on the next play; it was a 16 play, 68-yard drive for Ohio. Marshall led 14-7 after the Bobcats' score. 
Ohio forced a punt after a nice play by Devin Bass to deflect a Marshall first down pass attempt.
Blankenship opened the drive with a 10-yard burst up the middle. Ohio would score a field goal on the drive; Matt Weller booted the ball 22 yards through the uprights. Marshall led 14 -10 at that point in the game.
Ohio forced another Marshall punt on The Herd’s next offensive possession. 
Ohio’s next drive appeared to be stalling at one point, but Marshall got called on a pass interference play that breathed life into the possession.
Ryan Boykin rushed well on the ensuing plays. He came up with a big third down conversion on a five-yard run. After that, Tyler Futrell hauled in a four-yard touchdown pass from Tettleton. The Bobcats took the lead for the first time in the game. After the touchdown, the score was 17-14 in favor of Ohio.
Ohio’s score came with 49 seconds left in the first half; Marshall knelt down to head into the locker room. 
Tettleton was 15 of 22 for 135 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Cato was 19 of 24 for 187 yards and two touchdowns in the half.
Ohio started the second half with the ball, but the drive stalled and Venham pinned Marshall on its own 4-yard line on a punt. 
Ian Wells forced a fumble and Treymane Scott recovered the ball for Ohio on Marshall’s next drive. 
Beau Blankenship fumbled on Ohio’s following possession; it was his first fumble of the season. 
Cato completed a pass to Aaron Dobson for 16 yards on The Herd’s next drive. The drive looked promising, but Ohio’s defense forced a punt. The Bobcats' defense really stepped up in the second half. Treymane Scott was called for a block-in-the-back on the play and Ohio started the drive on its own 8-yard line. 
Marshall came up with a big stop on Ohio’s next drive, forcing the Bobcats to punt deep in its own territory. The Herd appeared to fumble on the return, but the call was overturned and Marshall retained possession of the ball. Marshall took over on Ohio’s 43-yard line.
Antavious Wilson advanced Marshall to Ohio’s 27-yard line with a 16-yard reception. Marshall got to the red zone after another Cato completion. 
The Herd’s Gator Hoskins then scored on an amazing touchdown reception. The Marshall tight end skied above the Ohio defenders and snagged the ball for the score. Hoskin’s touchdown gave Marshall a 21-17 lead with 5:20 left in the third quarter.
Marshall’s defense came up huge again on Ohio’s next offensive possession. The Thundering Herd forced Ohio to punt from its own 47-yard line. 
Cato opened Marshall’s next drive with a 20-yard sprint to Ohio’s 49-yard line. Marshall was facing a daunting fourth-and-2 attempt when Cato completed a 17-yard pass to Eric Frohnapfel. The Herd’s Justin Haig made a 37-yard field goal to end the drive. Marshall led Ohio 24-17 at that point.
The rest is history for Ohio as Clark scored, Carpenter recovered, Weller hit and Wosely decided.
The Bobcats have proven that they can win in hostile environments. Ohio has many weapons on both sides of the ball.
When asked how to stop the Bobcats, Ohio freshman running back Daz’mond Patterson may have said it best.
“I mean, that’s a good question,” said Patterson. “We’re strong at every point on the field, so they just got to have a really good, well-rounded team to stop us…and even then we’re going to give them a run for their money.”