Ohio Becomes Bowl Eligible Behind Game-Winning Field Goal From Yazdani

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Two seconds was all that was potentially left of Ohio’s season as place kicker Josiah Yazdani strolled onto the field with the game tied at 21-21.

He set up from 28 yards away on the left hash, took a deep breath, and blasted it through the uprights as the team sprinted on the field to celebrate the 24-21 season finale victory over the Miami RedHawks in Oxford.

“I just knew, just like at Kent State, I was going to make it,” Yazdani said after the game.

It was a case of redemption for Yazdani, who had missed a potential go-ahead 42-yard field goal with 1:45 remaining in the game.

“I know it was definitely not how I wanted one of my last kicks of the season to be, and I’m so glad I got another chance,” he said.

With the win, the Bobcats (6-6, 4-4 MAC) become bowl eligible for the sixth consecutive season, and have won eight of the last nine matchups versus the RedHawks (2-10, 2-6 MAC).

Now Ohio will play the waiting game to see if their season is extended with a bowl invitation. While the players would be disappointed to not go to a bowl game, they all seemingly agreed this was the best way to end the season.

“It’s always better to beat your rival and not have a losing record,” said A.J. Ouellette. “I’m just glad we fought all the way to the end of the season.”

Ohio had to dig deep to walk away with the win in this game, as the ‘Cats came out sluggish on both sides of the football. 

Quarterback Derrius Vick struggled to start, completing just 3/9 passes for 25 yards and an INT before being replaced by J.D. Sprague with just under three minutes left in the first half.

The RedHawks jumped on the Bobcats to an early 21-0 lead in the second quarter, putting Ohio in the danger zone in the first half.

But on the ensuing kickoff, the Bobcats finally got a spark, as true freshman Kylan Nelson fielded a short kick, knifed his way through traffic, and outran the RedHawks coverage for an 84-yard touchdown return to put Ohio on the board to a 21-7 deficit with 4:29 left in the second quarter.

The second half, however, proved to be a much different ballgame.

After forcing a punt on Miami’s opening possession, Sprague led Ohio deep into the red zone as the ‘Cats looked to make it a one possession game. But a Sprague pass intended for Sebastian Smith in the corner of the endzone on first and goal was intercepted in the end zone by Quinten Rollins–his second of the game.

Ohio then caught a lucky break, as a backwards pass from Hendrix was fumbled by a RedHawks receiver and recovered by the Bobcats Kendric Smith at the Miami 14 yard line.

With Vick back in at quarterback, Ohio didn’t waste long cashing in on the turnover, as just two plays later Vick connected with a wide-open A.J. Ouellette in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown pass to cut the RedHawks lead to 21-14 midway through the third quarter.

Two possessions later for the RedHawks was when the Ohio defense really began to dig in. The drive began with a quarterback sack by linebacker Jovon Johnson and Kurt Laseak, pushing the ball all the way back to Miami’s own 2-yard line.

Two plays later, a corner blitz by Devin Bass forced Hendrix to try and throw the ball away–except the ball stayed in bounds and was tracked perfectly over the shoulder down the sideline by Ohio defensive back Brett Layton who stayed in bounds for an interception at Miami’s 41 yard line.

“It was a tough one,” Layton said after the game. “I’m not really used to making those kind of catches like a receiver, trying to track the ball and see it into my hands.”

Ohio once again cashed in on the great field position, as Vick would hook up with Jordan Reid on a corner fade route in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown, tying the game at 21-21 with just over 11 minutes left in the game.

The RedHawks had an opportunity to win the game after Yazdani’s missed 42-yard field goal, moving the ball as far as Ohio’s 45 before stalling and being forced to punt.

As Vick and Ohio took over with just 1:08 left in the game, you could sense the do-or-die nature with the Bobcats offense.

After scrambling for a first down, Vick snuck in a 12-yard completion to Chase Cochran down to the Miami 49 yard line. And then on the next play, Vick launched a pass down the sideline to a streaking Brendan Cope, who layed out to make a clutch catch at the Miami 11 yard line to set up the game-winner by Yazdani.

The game was a tale of two halves, as Miami controlled the first half–outgaining Ohio 231-109 and held a 21-7 lead.

But in the second half, the ‘Cats dominated the stat sheets, outgaining Miami 244-86 and scoring 17 points while shutting out the RedHawks.

“We made some really good adjustments on both sides of the ball,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said after the game. “We weren’t stopping anything for a while, but we made some adjustments, and started playing tighter coverage on defense.”

Vick responded well after being lifted for Sprague in the first half, and became a difference maker for the Bobcats in the second half, completing 7/9 passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns, rushing the ball 10 times for 51 yards, and orchestrating Ohio’s game-winning drive.

“Pulling [Derrius] out was probably the right thing to do at the time,” Solich said, “but obviously as the game went on it made sense to give him another shot and I thought he responded very well.”

The ‘Cats defense was the difference maker, however, limiting the RedHawks to just 86 total yards, and holding Hendrix to just 51 yards on 5/15 in the half.