Photo credit: Logan Riely

Ohio Football Runs to 27-0 Shoutout Over Kent State

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A potent running attack led by Ohio quarterback Derrius Vick, and a terribly executed Kent State trick play helped the Bobcats to a 27-0 victory over the Golden Flashes on Tuesday night at Peden Stadium.

The Bobcats (6-4, 3-3) put up 340 yards on the ground, and boldly showed an extreme dedication to the run with 57 attempts against a Kent State (3-7, 2-4) defense that has allowed 117.8 rushing yards per game, which ranked it 19th in the country before the matchup.

Vick took some punishing hits, but after leaving Ohio’s last game injured, he was sensational with his feet. With 107 yards on 22 rush attempts, Vick became Ohio’s first 100-yard rusher of the season and the first Ohio quarterback to run for more than 100 yards since Tyler Tettleton did it against Miami in 2011.

Up 10-0, but struggling to score since the opening seconds of the second quarter, Ohio’s offense got a jumpstart when middle linebacker Jovon Johnson picked off Kent State’s George Bollas in the third quarter.

On its third drive of the second half, Kent State finally picked up its first first down of the third quarter. Then the Flashes decided to get tricky. Center and quarterback lined up on the right hash mark, and the other nine Flashes lined up on the left. Johnson stayed on Bollas, snagged the ball out of the air and returned it to the Kent State 11-yard line.

Johnson said it was a play the Bobcats practiced for, and though he knew exactly what to do, he wasn’t expecting a throw.

On second down from the Flashes’ seven, Vick scored a touchdown on an option keeper, and the ‘Cats took command of the game at 17-0.

“Going in we felt that in order to move the ball on the ground , that we were going to have to get some of those plays from the quarterback position on reads off of options,” Ohio head coach Frank Solich said.

The Bobcats opened the game in an explosive way, as they scored in just over a minute. After a three-yard rush from Vick and 10-yard gain from running back Daz Patterson, Vick threw to a wide-open Sebastian Smith, who scampered down the right sideline for a 49-yard score.

It was quick start for the ‘Cats, but that was the only score they could muster in the first quarter. Ohio ended the scoring draught with a 38-yard field goal from Josiah Yazdani in the opening seconds of the second quarter. Yazdani had an opportunity to start and finish the quarter with a score, but he kicked a 28-yarder wide left with 22 seconds left in the half.

After going up 17-0, Ohio extended its lead on its next drive with a 35-yarder from Yazdani. A 37-yard run and personal foul on Kent State put the Bobcats on the Flashes’ eight, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Patterson stalled the drive.

It was only after Ohio went up 20 that the Golden Flashes put together their best drive of the game. It started at their 12, but came to an end on Ohio’s 31 with middle linebacker Quentin Poling’s fourth-down interception. His 25-yard return, along with a four-yard lateral to Chad Moore, set Ohio on the opposition’s 44. The drive ended on Yazdani’s second miss of the night, on a 47-yard attempt.

With a 20-point lead, JD Sprague relieved Vick at quarterback, and two minutes later Sprague connected with tight end Jordan Reid for a 41-yard touchdown and the Bobcats’ final score of the night.

Vick ended the night with 73 yards in the air on 7-of-13 passing.

The shutout was Ohio’s first shutout victory since a 38-0 win over Austin Peay in 2013, and its first shutout over an FBS opponent since a 34-0 over Buffalo in 2004.

It’s no coincidence the Bobcats’ defense performed so well, as the return of Poling sparked the defensive effort.

“He just makes plays that a lot of people can’t, so having him out there is huge,” Solich said. “He’s also the focal point of our defense and I think guys just understand what he’s about in terms of a competitor and talent, and they love playing with him. So I think he kind of ignites our defensive unit.”

With 10 tackles, three of which were for a loss, Poling led a unit that forced Kent State into nine punts and allowed just 191 yards of offense. Bobcat defenders were in the Flashes’ backfield all night, and finished the night with 8.5 tackles for a loss.

Now that the Bobcats are bowl eligible for the seventh-straight season, they’ll look to add to their bowl resume in a home matchup with the Ball State Cardinals on Tuesday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU.