Ohio vs Akron: Bobcats back in MAC East race with win over Zips

The Akron/Kent State writer took care of the recap for MAC Report Online this Saturday, but since I’m a loser with nothing better to do on a Saturday night I wrote a recap anyway.

A game against the lowly Akron Zips was just what the doctor ordered for the Ohio Bobcats, as they snapped their two-game losing streak with a 37-20 victory at InfoCision Stadium Saturday.

The “big-play offense” of the Bobcats was clicking as Ohio outgained Akron 556 yards to 249.

While the offense was able to move the ball at will, three turnovers and 100 penalty yards dampened what was otherwise a good performance.

“I think we showed some signs of coming out of (our slump),” Head Coach Frank Solich said. “Three turnovers again today. That’s not what we’re after, but we were able to overcome that.”

The first turnover, a Tyler Tettleton interception on the team’s first drive, stalled the early momentum. Despite the mistake, Tettleton continued his efficient ways completing 21 of 29 passes for 328 yards.

Another long drive in the first quarter resulted in a Matt Weller field goal. The kick made him Ohio’s top scoring kicker.

Akron would counter with a 72-yard drive that was capped with an A.J. Fox field goal.

With both teams scuffling through most of the first half, a big blow came when Tettleton would find his favorite target, LaVon Brazill for a 78-yard touchdown with 6:17 remaining in the second quarter.

“I think it came at a good in the game,” Solich said. “Neither team had the game in control and both teams were fighting for a little bit of an advantage, but there was a lot of football to play.”

The Bobcats were able to do a much better job keeping drives alive compared to last week’s game against Ball State as they converted 11 of 14 third-down conversions.

Ohio then went on a run where they would score 27 of the next 34 points, featuring two Tettleton touchdowns (one rushing, one passing), A Beau Blankenship touchdown run and two more Matt Weller field goals.

Akron was hoping to take advantage of a banged-up Ohio defensive line by going to running back Jawon Chisolm early and often. Ohio contained him well as he only had 49 yards on 21 carries. The Zips as a team had just 81 total rushing yards.

For Ohio, Donte Harden had a good game statistically, picking up 123 yards on 22 carries, but another costly fumble saw him benched for a short while.

In addition to getting their season back on track, losses by Temple and Buffalo bring the Bobcats back into the running for the MAC East title. While the sudden change of fortunes will have the team looking to go for the kill, both the players and coaches are keeping it in perspective.

“We’ve got to play one game at a time,” cornerback Travis Carrie said. “We can’t focus on other teams.”

“I have no idea where that stands and how that all works, but obviously that helps us,” Solich said. “We’re going to have to win out in order to be in the game. We got four more to go in order to get that done and a huge one next week with Temple coming to our place.”

The Bobcats next game will be a pivotal matchup with the Temple Owls in Athens next Wednesday. Akron will play Central Michigan at home Saturday.

Ball State vs Ohio: Running Blog

Happy Homecoming, and what a day for it!

I have a hard time believing that there is a more beautiful setting in college football in fall than Peden Stadium.

Ohio is looking to rebound after a terrible loss to Buffalo last week against a less than stellar Ball State Cardinals squad that is coming off a 42-0 loss to Temple.

2:13- Some notes:

-Warrior Jeff King will be wearing the number 62 today in honor of Marcellus Williamson.

-Wicked winds here along the Hocking today. Gusts are expected in excess of 40 mph. It’s going to affect the kicking, punting and passing games.

-LaVon Brazill needs eight receptions to become Ohio’s all-time leader in receptions.

-Reps from the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Giants have spots in the box today. No idea who they are here to look at but it’s getting to that time where we see scouts around Peden.

-As it plays on the video board, I can’t stress enough how good The Bobcat Showcase on WOUB is. It covers all Ohio sports and does a great job of covering the teams from unique angles. You can check out full episodes HERE.

2:43- Ball State is 3-3 but like previous opponents they have been battle-tested. They have played Oklahoma, South Florida and Indiana.

2:50- Ball State quarterback Sean Baker has thrown the most interceptions in the nation. The Bobcat secondary has feasted on turnovers all season and could use some today.

3:00- Now that I’m done feeling bad for myself over another horrid effort from the Pitt Panthers, some more news. DL Neal Huynh is still a couple of weeks away from playing and won’t dress. CB Xavier Hughes is officially out for the year.

3:09- Tyler Tettleton has been incredibly efficient. He is one of 11 quarterbacks in D-I with at least 1o touchdowns and two or less interceptions. He is in the same company with players such as Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck.

3:30- Just about game time and the place has filled up. The crowd is louder than in past home games so it should be a very fun afternoon of football.

3:34- Teams are out. Rufus’s motorcycle has returned. Ball State will start with the ball. Let’s play.

3:42- Both teams can’t get much going on their first drives. With the wind, the run game will be very important. Donte Harden had 11 yards on his first carry but the drive stalled immediately after.

3:48- Ohio forces another three and out and has much better field position on the Ball State 38.

3:55- LaVon Brazill gives the crowd some life with an impressive 37 yard return on a 65 yard punt that featured a huge block by Mose Denton.

3:58- A bit puzzling how Ohio continues to pass when it clearly isn’t working so far.

4:02- 11 minutes in Ball State gets the first 3rd down conversion of the day. They are driving, now inside the Ohio 35.

4:06- END OF THE FIRST QUARTER: Ball State 0 Ohio 0.

Pretty mundane quarter of football there, but we have seen things get crazy i a relatively short amount of time.

-Ball State is in the middle of a 5:43 drive and are down to the Ohio 20. They have figured out a way to move the ball with the wind.Ohio should look to do the same.

-Just 24 total yards for the Bobcats- 21 rushing, 3 passing. It would be in their best interest to keep the ball on the ground.

-Time of possession: Ball State-11:05 Ohio: 3:55.

4:11- 14 play 59 yard drive is capped with a field goal. Ball State 3 Ohio 0.

4:16- Funny how Ohio gets a first down and the chain gang forgets to move the sticks as they were asleep from the lethargic first quarter.

4:18- Six for the ‘Cats on a reverse pass from Phil Bates to LaVon Brazill for the score. 7-3 Bobcats after tripling their 1st quarter output on their first drive of the 2nd. That is Brazill’s 6th TD of the season and he is now just three receptions away from the all-time mark.

4:36- We’ve hit another lull in the middle of the second. BSU trying to make the best of good field position starting their drive on the Ohio 46.

4:40- BSU gets down to the OU 24 before stalling. The Bobcats dodge a bullet when Steven Schott misses the 41-yard field goal attempt. Still 7-3 as the game inches toward half.

4:50- Horrible drive for the Bobcat D who allow the Cardinals to go 9 plays and 81 yards in less than four minutes. 10-7 Cardinals with less than a minute left in the half.

4:54- Wow. A deflected Tettleton pass with 38 seconds remaining in the half picked off by Travis Freeman and returned all the way down to the Ohio 8. The Cardinals settle for a FG and have a 13-7 lead at the half.

HALFTIME: Ball State 13 Ohio 7

-What a downer. Ohio had seemed to seize control of the game with their first touchdown but Ball State put together a nice drive and then a big play on defense to sneak away with the lead at half.

-This was without a doubt Ohio’s worst offensive half of the year. They cannot move the ball on a regular basis today.

-Phil Bates on his one touchdown pass has more yards than Tyler Tettleton. That’s all you need to know about how the passing game has been.

-The defense broke down on BSU’s first touchdown of the half after tackling and doing their jobs well all half.

-Donte Harden has just seven carries. The Cats absolutely need to get him involved if they want to get it going offensively.

-God bless the Alumni Marching 110. Well worth the price of admission for fans.

-Jahwan Edwards has 91 yards on 15 carries for BSU. Not the bounce back effort the front half of the Bobcat defense was looking for.

5:19- Donte Harden comes out like a man possessed to start the half. Runs over Joshua Howard on a carry up the middle and knocks him out of the game. Brutal.

5:27- Bobcats get a TD on a drive that relied on the vertical passing game. Tettleton completes two passes to Riley Dunlop before a play action pass to Harden in the end zone completes the score. A blocked PAT almost results in two points but holder Paul Hershey makes the stop. 13-13 with 11:28 remaining.

5:38- A short QB sneak completes the counterpunch by Ball State. 10 plays, 77 yards, in  5:11. Things are about to get real for the Cats if they don’t get it together.

5:45- All-American effort by LaVon Brazill on a 74-yard TD reception, the longest play of the year for Ohio. He is one away from tying the all-time reception mark. 20-20 with 5:02 in the 3rd.

5:54- END OF THE 3RD QUARTER: Ohio 20 Ball State 20

Game is tied but Ball State is in the red zone. Defense needs to dig deep if Ohio wants to win.

-Remember in the first half when it was nothing but punts?

-Ball State has nearly doubled Ohio in time of possesion.

-Bobcats held Edwards to just 18 yards, but the pass defense has looked bad.

5:57-Ohio gets the stop in the red zone and Cardinals get another FG. 23-2o with 14:19.

6:02- To give an idea of how much BSU has controlled this game, the Cardinals have run 66 plays to Ohio’s 38.

6:05- Wrapping up the running blog. Keep it to my twitter (@suhlmann12) for the updates in this barn-burner.

The War on Fans

As much as I hate anything pertaining to West Virginia University, I have to admit their fan loyalty can be matched by few in collegiate sports. They live and die with their Mountaineers, and while I think it can be over the top at times, they would be the last to have their devotion questioned.

But Mountaineer Football Head Coach Dana Holgorsen did just that last weekend following their 55-10 victory over Bowling Green. 46,603 fans showed up on a day featuring temperatures in the 50s and cold rain to see a low-end MAC team play. This apparently wasn’t good enough for Holgorsen, who was expecting sell outs similar to the LSU game every week. One comment he made at his weekly press conference really upset me.

 What’s so hard about it? Is it too cold? It wasn’t too cold for our players. It wasn’t too cold for our coaches or managers or trainers. They were out there. So why did we have 20,000 people less at this one than we did last week?

Well Dana, If I were a coach such as your self making hundreds or thousand or even millions of dollars to coach a team, well yes I would show up regardless of the weather. The same would go if I were a player receiving a free education to play a game.

The nerve Holgorsen has to attack fans who spend their hard earned money to attend games, in this economic climate no less, in which the money goes toward his and his staff’s salary is ridiculous. He fails to realize that West Virginia consistently is the top school for attendance in the Big East. Which leads me to this point.

Teams should never “call out” fans. Ever. Period.

Frank Coonelly did so in March, claiming that the Pirates would not be able to spend money until the fans show up in greater numbers. He was rightfully chastised for doing so by Pittsburgh media. People like this are much like those in government, out of touch with the “common citizen”.

Not all season ticket holders are able to make every game. Not everyone has the money for tickets in the locations that you mistakenly overpriced (ahem Yankees). As long as you aren’t in the red there isn’t really that much that you should be worried about. You do your job running the teams and let the fans do as they please.

As long as you guys are turning a profit, why should you even care who comes?

(Here is the press conference where Holgorsen goes off. You’d think the team is going to relocate because of it.)

Pittsburgh Pirates: Year in Review

Another year of baseball has come and gone for 22 cities. This one was a very noteworthy one for the beloved Pittsburgh Pirates. They gave their fans a taste of first place in July for the first time since 1992. Although they completely collapsed down the stretch, they finished with their best record (72-90) since 2004.

Instead of focusing on the huge negative that is the team’s 19th consecutive losing season, I’m going to take this space to focus on the memories that this season left me with by thanking the players. There were plenty.

Joel Hanrahan- Thank you for being the shut-down closer this team envisioned you being when they traded for you in 2009. I’d take you over Nyjer Morgan in a heartbeat.

Pedro Alvarez- Thank you for keeping it cool this year, even though it was a lost year. You took a nearly radioactive situation with your struggles and the reaction of the fan base and kept it from getting out of control. Clear your head up and come back ready in 2012. We need you.

Jose Tabata- Thank you so much for having a love for the Pirate franchise. It showed when you signed your extension this summer. You know the great history of this team and want to be a part of it. How can you not like that?

Paul Maholm- Even though this was most likely your last year with the club, thank you for being a great pitcher to watch during your time here. No matter what kind of crap you were faced with, you took the ball and tried to do your job to the best of your ability every time out. Not one complaint or excuse. It’s something I feel the younger pitchers fed off of.

Jeff Karstens- Thank you for showing in this era of obsession over power arms that a pitcher with control can get the job done too. Keep up the good work.

Michael McKenry- Thank you for making grown men cry on the night of July 8th, 2011 just by hitting a home run. Seriously.

Charlie Morton- Thank you for not giving up when it seemed everyone else had done so. One of the best stories of this season.

James McDonald- Thank you for being the lighthearted guy on the team. Your goofing around even made the 10-0 losses watchable when they cut away to you and the other guys in the dugout.

Neil Walker- Thank you for carrying this team at times when no one else could get it going. You were a catalyst all year with clutch hitting. You are a fun player to cheer for.

Andrew McCutchen- Thank you for having the breakout season that we were waiting for. You are a true “star-level” talent and it showed this year. While you faded down the stretch, you are quickly turning heads in the baseball world.

Clint Hurdle- Thank you for coming into what many consider an impossible situation and bringing hope back to this fan base. Your interactions with fans and players have meant a lot and went a long way to bringing back the positive vibes this young team desperately needed. You believed, so then we believed.

 

187 days until Opening Day 2012.