Updated Thu, Nov 15, 2012 2:35 am
Ohio Football fell behind in the second half of a 52-27 loss at Ball State Wednesday to fall to 8-3 (4-3 MAC). The defeat marks the third such result in four weeks for the Bobcats, who were 7-0 just 21 days ago.
"I don't really know how to put it in words. It just fell apart," said running back Beau Blankenship after the game. "We just got to refocus and just figure some stuff out because this isn't the team that we are. We can play way better than this and we should be playing way better than this."
Blankenship turned in one of his best performances of the year, compiling 161 yards and three touchdowns on the ground to keep Ohio in the game for three quarters.
"It's kind of hard to imagine because you know we were feeling great and undefeated," said Blankenship. "I don't know what's going on."
"Getting off to a good start is what it is. It's only a start," said head coach Frank Solich. "You've got to continue to play well throughout the course of the season if you're going to end up being the type of football team you want to be."
The Bobcats' offense too often came away empty-handed between the second and third quarters. Ohio made three trips deep into Ball State territory between the end of the second quarter and the end of the third, but only converted those three possessions into three points.
At the end of the first half, Tyler Tettleton took a sack on third down with under 10 seconds and no timeouts that prevented Ohio from getting a field goal off. The kick team sprinted onto the field and appeared to snap the ball before the clock ran out, but the officials waved it off. Officials reviewed the play twice before determining that Ohio committed a substitution infraction by snapping the ball before Ball State could get its field goal block unit on the field.
"In this ball game, I didn't think field goals were going to win it for us," said Solich about the decision to take a shot at the end zone on third down. "I though we had enough time to run a play and throw the ball away if it's not there."
Twice in the third quarter, Ohio found itself inside the Ball State 20. But the Bobcats could only muster two field-goal attempts -- Matt Weller missed a 27-yarder from the left hash and converted a 34-yarder near the end of the quarter to pull the 'Cats within seven at 31-24.
Three Ball State fourth-quarter touchdowns put the game out of reach.
"Things got tougher as the game went on," said Solich. "It came down to just the basics of football that we didn't do very well this game."
Ohio's defense took a major hit midway through the second quarter on a Ball State run up the middle. The play only gained a couple yards for the Cardinals, but after the pile cleared, defensive tackles Carl Jones and Neal Huynh remained on the ground side by side. Both players were helped to the sidelines and eventually carted off the field with leg injuries.
"We've seen a lot of that this year," said Solich, referencing the numerous injuries that have plagued Ohio's season. "Obviously it was disheartening when you talk about the core of your defensive line."
With the loss of Ohio's interior line, Ball State gashed the Bobcat defense on the ground, accumulating 357 rushing yards on the night -- 292 in the second half. Furthermore, two Cardinal runners eclipsed 100 yards in the same game for the first time since 2009. The duo of Jahwan Edwards and Horactio Banks combined for 304 yards and two touchdowns on the night.
Overall, the 588 yards and 52 points allowed by the Bobcat defense were both season highs.
Despite the recent skid, Ohio is still bowl-eligible and very much alive in the race to secure a postseason bid.
"A lot is on the line, to get to nine wins and have a chance for a bowl game," said Tettleton. "We're 8-3 and a lot of teams would love to be there, so we have a lot to play for."
The Bobcats will try to end their regular season with a win next Friday at Kent State (9-1, 6-0 MAC).