Ohio Rebounds Behind Foster’s Career Night

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Ohio rebounded just five days after suffering its first loss of the season with a 45-14 victory over Eastern Michigan Thursday night. With the win, Ohio (8-1, 4-1 MAC) remains in control of its MAC destiny.

“It was a quick turnaround…we weren’t very pleased with the Miami game, so we felt like we needed to come out and make a statement,” said junior receiver Donte Foster.

Foster eclipsed a career high with 164 receiving yards and added two touchdowns on seven receptions to lead the Bobcats. The junior’s two scores moved him into sole possession of fifth place all-time in the Ohio record books with 12 career touchdown receptions.

“A lot of guys look at me to make plays,” said Foster. “Tyler (Tettleton) threw some great passes right on time and I was able to capitalize on them.”

Ohio took the game’s momentum on its final drive to end the second quarter.

Faced with first and ten at the Ohio 35-yard line and leading 17-14 with 55 seconds remaining in the half, Tettleton was in a situation very similar to the previous week at Miami. This time around Tettleton led the Bobcats down the field, completing all six of his passes on the way to a 19-yard touchdown to Foster with 11 seconds to spare.

“You don’t think about past situations,” said Tettleton. “You’re just living in the moment…we just wanted to get down there and score and we did.”

The third quarter was then highlighted by two drives.

After stopping Ohio in five plays to open the second half, Eastern Michigan drove 57 yards in 11 plays, converting two fourth downs to move the ball to the Ohio 25-yard line. But a costly second-down holding penalty backed the Eagles up to the 35, and Antwan Crutcher and Nathan Carpenter combined for a sack on third down to take the Eagles out of field-goal range. Eastern Michigan was forced to settle for a punt, downing the ball on Ohio’s one-yard line. Overall, the Eagles held the ball for 15 plays, eating 8:44 off the clock and coming away empty-handed.

The Bobcats then produced their longest drive in program history, scoring in three plays on a 79-yard touchdown. Foster ran a 15-yard comeback route and weaved through three defenders, winning a footrace to the end zone to make the score 31-14.

“We felt like if we came out and scored another time, we pretty much sealed the game,” said Tettleton, who’s first read on the play was Tyler Futrell over the middle.

“We had worked on (the play) all week and it wasn’t there,” said Foster. “(Tettleton) gave me the pass…I just cut right off Futrell’s block and it was off to the races.

“The guys give me a hard time about not being fast and everything and I just felt like I needed to prove something different.”

Ryan Boykin added 131 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries for Ohio. Boykin was the second of three Bobcat running backs to find the end zone in the game. Beau Blankenship scored on a two-yard dive in the first quarter and Daz' Patterson increased the margin of victory with a late touchdown in the fourth quarter.

While Ohio’s 34 point win is its largest margin of victory against FBS opponents this season, the Bobcats lost another player to injury for an extended period of time Thursday. Landon Smith injured his right ankle on a 14-yard reception late in the second quarter and will require surgery, likely sidelining him for the season. Smith was the Bobcats’ third-leading receiver entering Thursday’s game, with 184 yards on seven receptions—an average of over 26 yards per catch.

Ohio remains tied for second in the MAC with Bowling Green, who comes to Athens next week for a Wednesday night game on ESPN2. If Ohio wins out, it will earn a trip to the MAC Championship game for the second consecutive season and third time in four years. But the Bobcats’ remaining opponents—Bowling Green, Ball State and Kent State—have a combined MAC record of 11-3 this season.

“We’ve got nothing but challenges on our schedule,” said head coach Frank Solich after the game. “The momentum factor of winning a game like this the way we did is big and should help us with our mind state going (down the stretch).”

Wednesday’s game will be the third in 12 days for Ohio.