‘Cats Shut Out Austin Peay 38-0, But See Room For Improvement

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Even on a dreary afternoon in a game Ohio was expected to win by at least 30, nothing could break the Bobcats' (3-1) focus as they shutout the Austin Peay Governors (0-4) 38-0.

The ‘Cats leapt out to an early lead on a six-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Telleton to Matt Waters less than four minutes into the game. The score gave Tettleton his 50th career passing touchdown in a game that was full of historical importance. Behind Telleton’s 213 yards—which catapulted him past the 7,000 career yardage mark—and three passing touchdowns (all in the first half), the ‘Cats managed to pull off their first shutout since head coach Frank Solich took over in 2005. The win also gave Solich his 120th career victory, and 62nd win while at Ohio, moving him into a tie for the eighth most wins by a head coach in Mid-American Conference history.

But more significant than the historical importance of the win, was the impact it had on the current roster. Entering the game Ohio knew it was heading up against a team well below the level of its former opponents, and easily could have overlooked the Governors the week before a bye week. But by the end of the game it was clear that the ‘Cats knew exactly what they needed to do to come out with a win, and executed it.

Through the first three games of the season Ohio had struggled to run the ball, but Saturday afternoon it found the success on the ground it’s been looking for all season, to the tune of 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“My experience as an ex-running backs coach…the yards are not easy," said Solich. "But as the game goes on if you keep pounding at them, or if you get up, the yards seem to come a little bit easier in the rushing game.”

Ryan Boykin accounted for 57 of those yards, on 14 carries, and scored on a one-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter, putting the Bobcats up 28-0. Beau Blankenship and Tim Edmond had 38 and 36 yards respectively, but the star of the rushing attack was Daz’ Patterson who accounted for 94 yards on seven carries, mostly out of the slot position. He also scored Ohio’s final touchdown of the night on a 13-yard run with just over five minutes left in the game.

But, despite the efficiency on offense and the lopsided score, the game was far from perfect. At times the ‘Cats looked sloppy, and allowed Austin Peay to put up 298 yards of total offense, more than 100 yards over the Governors’ offensive average coming into the game.

Several times throughout the game Ohio’s shutout was threatened, including three consecutive drives late that ended in missed field goals by Austin Peay.

“Shutouts are not easy in this game,” Solich said. “To shut a team out is no easy task, and their field goal kicker helped us a little bit, but it definitely was a shutout and I’m definitely proud of our guys for getting that.”

Besides the bending of the defense, Solich’s Bobcats also coughed up three fumbles in the game and were tagged with eight penalties for a total of 70 yards.

“It was a good win for our guys…But those kind of games are tough on me. They’re a little bit frustrating. You know if we’re favored then I want to dominate every play,” Solich said. “We’ve got to get better. There’s lots of areas that we can improve in.”

Solich didn’t wait until after the game to figure out where some of those areas were. Kicker Matt Green missed a 48-yard field goal attempt late in the first half, his fifth failed attempt on the season. Midway through the fourth quarter when Ohio had another opportunity for a field goal, Solich turned to Josiah Yazdani who knocked through a 47-yard kick to go up 31-0.

“It’s up for grabs,” Solich said of the kicking job when asked about his decision to turn away from Green late in the game. “I think it’s been a close race all the way through fall camp. The race is not necessarily over.”

But with a week off before heading into the conference season, the game gave the team a better sense of what its strengths and weaknesses are. “We’re coming off now three straight wins…but we can’t just build off of momentum. We need to identify what we need to get better at and then we need to go to work again.”

Ohio is off next week as it prepares for its conference season opener on the road against the Akron Zips (1-2).