Updated Mon, Nov 26, 2012 12:00 am
There was only one offensive touchdown scored in the first half, but two turnovers by the Ohio Bobcats gave Kent State a 21-6 halftime lead, a margin Ohio was never able to recover from in their 28-6 loss.
The Ohio turnover woes began in their first drive when running back Beau Blankenship fumbled on the 50-yard line. The fumble was recovered by Kent State’s Luke Wollet and returned for a touchdown. The host team took the lead before the Bobcats realized what had happened.
Ohio only had two turnovers the entire game, but both were returned for Kent State touchdowns.
After Trayion Durham spinned his way into the end zone to give Kent State the 14-0 lead, the Golden Flashes added to their point total with a C.J. Malauulu interception on the next Bobcat drive, which was returned for a 33-yard touchdown.
“The early part of the game was disastrous for us,” Coach Frank Solich said. “The two turnovers getting points on the board for them off of those were tough, so it was a poor start by us.”
In spite of the early deficit, the Ohio defense had a strong day controlling Kent State. After allowing 834 rushing yards in their past four games, Ohio contained the run-happy offense to only 207 rushing yards.
The Bobcats specifically controlled Dri Archer, a player who has a legitimate chance of being named the MAC Player of the Years. Archer tallied 241 yards on the ground a week earlier against Bowling Green, but he junior running back only mustered 53 yards rushing and 58 receiving. Known for his big-play ability – two 70-plus yard runs last week alone, Archer’s longest run was only 16 yards.
“We were dedicated to stopping the run and taking our chances in the throwing game a little bit, so we were able to hold him down,” Solich said. “I know he’s a great back and great competitor.”
Blankenship also had a strong effort in the run game for the Bobcats. The running back bounced back from his earlier fumble to run for a game-high 145 yards and broke the Ohio all-time season rushing record in the process.
Blankenship managed to do so despite losing three offensive linemen -- Ryan McGrath, Vince Carlotta and Eric Herman -- to injuries throughout the game.
Their absence also affected Tyler Tettleton, who was sacked eight times in the game. He finished 21-of-37 for 232 yards, and the eight sacks resulted in -35 net rushing yards for the quarterback. He also received some criticism by running for seven yards on a fourth-and-16 play instead of throwing it down the field on their final drive.
His teammates back up their leader, though.
“He’s saved us so many different times throughout the year. To say he should’ve done whatever on that one play is not fair to him. He’s a great player. He’s a leader of our football team,” Corey Hasting said. “The reason why we say he should’ve done more is we’ve seen him do more. He’s a great player, and you can’t blame him for anything he’s done.”
The loss puts Ohio at 8-4 on the season and losers of four of their past five games. Their bowl chances are questionable now, but the players are hoping for a chance.
“We all want to go to a bowl game,” Blankenship said. “It’s up to the other people to have us go, but I feel like we can play and we want to play, and hopefully we get the opportunity to.”