Updated Tue, Sep 6, 2011 11:35 am
Last year, New Mexico State's defense gave up 207 rushing yards per game. In the 2011 season opener, Ohio got that number and then some.
The 'Cats, led by an all-around offensive domination, beat the Aggies 44-24 and won their season opener for the second straight season.
Quarterback Tyler Tettleton, making his first career start, threw his first career touchdown pass as a Bobcat, and accounted for four total touchdowns (two rushing, two passing), but Ohio's rushing attack led the way.
Ohio decimated NMSU for 245 rush yards, a 5.1 yard per carry average, and three touchdowns on the ground. Donte Harden was Ohio's leading rusher in the contest, carrying the ball 15 times for 81 yards. Beau Blankenship was next with ten carries for 50 yards, including an electric 24-yarder that set up his one-yard TD plunge.
The game was tied 7-7 in the second quarter when New Mexico State center Sioeli Fakalata snapped the ball miles over quarterback Andrew Manley's head and threw the endzone for a safety. From there, Ohio scored 21 unanswered points to take a 30-7 lead.
Two drives later, Tettleton's nicely placed 44-yard fade to LaVon Brazill (three catches, 64 yards) set up a Tettleton sneak touchdown to give Ohio a nine-point lead. Then, Manley was intercepted by Xavier Hughes, and Tettleton's seven-yard strike to Riley Dunlop - his only catch of the night - made the score 23-7 at the half.
Ohio's first drive of the second half showcased the talents of senior all-purpose threat Phil Bates. His hookup with Mario Dovell was good for 58 yards and put Tettleton in position to throw his second TD pass of the evening - the daggar - an eight-yarder to Donte Foster (three catches, 26 yards).
Tettleton spread the ball around in his first start, completing passes to 11 different Bobcat receivers. After being intercepted on the first drive of the game, he was extremely efficient.
"He's a relatively, inexperienced quarterback and he's not had that many snaps," head coach Frank Solich said. "He's learning in progress kind of quarterback right now, but he's so composed. So much of a team player, great leadership ability. He's working his way through things the way we hoped he would. I thought overall he managed the game really well."
Ohio returns home from the long road trip to play two straight weeks of home games. In the first, Peden Stadium will welcome Gardner-Webb, a team in an FCS (formerly D1-AA) conference. Then, in the first real test for the Bobcats, Marshall's Thundering Herd play in Athens in the "Battle of the Bell." Both games are 7:00 p.m. start times.
Football head coach Frank Solich spoke to The Bobcat Sports Showcase about Saturday's season-opening win over New Mexico State. Here are his talking points:
1. How Noah Keller and LaVon Brazill looked in their return to game action after missing most of the 2010 season.
2. Thought on the running game against New Mexico State. Harden led the team, but overall, Ohio had a balanced attack.
3. Worries of a let down or trap game with Gardner-Webb, especially considering Ohio plays Marshall the following week.