Photo Credit: Ohio Athletics

Late Touchdown Seals Win for Ohio over Miami

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For two teams that have met 93 times, there isn’t much that Ohio and Miami can throw at each other the other team hasn’t seen. At times on Saturday, neither team’s quarterback could see the defense.

Despite sloppy and inconsistent play, Ohio was able to hold off their rival and escape Oxford with a 17-7. Ohio has now won 10 of the past 11 editions of the Battle of the Bricks and have their first Mid-American Conference win of the season.

With 1:30 left in the game and Ohio (3-2, 1-0) leading 10-7, Miami freshman quarterback Noah Wesensky dropped back to pass in his own end zone with a chance to lead the Redhawks down the field to tie or take the lead.

Instead, the Ohio defense was able to get to the 18-year-old, spin him around and force the ball loose. Blair Brown, who was almost ejected for targeting just minutes earlier, knocked the ball out of Wesensky’s hands and Kevin Robbins recovered it in the end zone without the ball touching the ground.

Miami (0-5, 0-1) had more offensive yards than Ohio, 238 to 197, but Ohio was able to control the ball for more time and their defense prevented Miami from capitalizing.

“It seems like whenever one side of the ball isn’t getting it done then the other side picks up the slack a little bit and produces,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said after the game. “What we really need to do is have both sides of the ball hitting on all cylinders then we’ll have a pretty good football team if we can get that done.”

Casey Sayles had two sacks and five other Bobcats forced their ways into Miami’s backfield for a sack each. Both Javon Hagan and Toran Davis had an interception.

“It felt big,” Davis said. “We just had a lot of pressure on us all week as far as the secondary to do our jobs. And to just come out and execute at the level that we did is just a big accomplishment. Especially our secondary being so young, they answered the call and came ready to play.”

Ohio had the ball with a chance to score with 3:55 left in the fourth but was forced to punt. That punt was downed inside the Miami 1 yard line and set up the game-sealing touchdown.

Ohio was able to put points on the board first with a Louie Zervos field goal, his 14th of the year. With 8:06 left until the half, a designed run by Greg Windham found the end zone to put Ohio up 10-0 and gave them the lead they didn’t relinquish.

Windham had 31 yards on the ground and only 56 yards passing. As a team, the Bobcats offense sputtered its way to 197 total yards after averaging 490 yards per game and 36.6 points per game in their first four.

Both teams combined for four turnovers in the first half but in the second half, Miami threatened and looked as if they had figured things out with Wesensky.

In the third quarter, Wesensky found wide receiver Ryan Smith for a 12-yard touchdown pass that made it a 10-7 game. It looked like Miami was gaining momentum but Ohio’s defense stood strong.

Both teams traded possessions throughout the fourth quarter but it wasn’t until the very end that either team would score again.

In the first half, neither team was able to find a rhythm thanks to turnovers. On Miami’s first play, starting quarterback Billy Bahl was strip sacked and handed the Bobcats the ball in the red zone. Bahl also threw two interceptions before leaving the game in the second quarter with an injury.

Ohio’s lead could have been larger but Windham threw an interception in the end zone on an under-thrown ball to Sebastian Smith. After two straight 100-yard games, Smith was held to only a single catch and 12 receiving yards.

Ohio’s passing game was off but once again the running game gave the Bobcats enough to get it done. Maleek Irons made his return from injury and rushed for 60 yards and Bo Hardy added 50. As a team, the Bobcats ran for 141 yards.

Sloppy or not, Ohio is now 1-0 in conference play and will return home to Athens to host Bowling Green on Homecoming. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.