Ohio Game Notes (PDF)
ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio football team (1-0) returns to the field following a week two bye, taking to the road for the first time in 2018 to face Atlantic Coast Conference foe Virginia (1-1) on Saturday (Sept. 15). Kickoff is slated for 4:30 p.m. EST at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.
The contest was originally scheduled to played at Virginia's Scott Stadium in Charlottesvile, Va. The venue change was made due to the threat of severe weather in the Charlottesville area associated with Hurricane Florence and to provide emergency personnel with the ability to focus on the needs of the region's citizens throughout the weekend.
• Saturday's contest will be nationally televised on ESPN2, with Joel Meyers and Forrest Conoly on the call. The game can also be heard on the Ohio IMG Sports Network. Russ Eisenstein returns for his 11th season as the "Voice of the Bobcats." Ohio alum Rob Cornelius, who has been a part of the broadcasts for close to two decades, is back in the booth. The 12-station network has an over-the-air coverage area that hits three states. In addition, the broadcasts are available online through OhioBobcats.com and TuneIn.com/OhioBobcats.com. They are also free on the TuneIn app. Network pregame radio coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. EST.
• The Bobcats opened the 2018 season with a 38-32 victory over Howard on Sept. 1 at Peden Stadium.
• The Bobcats are coming off of a 2017 campaign in which they went 9-4 overall and finished second in the Mid-American Conference East Division with a 5-3 mark in league play.
• The 2017 season saw Ohio earn bowl eligibility for the ninth-straight season and make its eighth bowl appearance during that span. The Bobcats ended the year on a high note, rolling to a 41-6 triumph over UAB in the Bahamas Bowl.
• Frank Solich is back on the Ohio sidelines as head coach for a 14th season. The Bobcats have gone 98-71 (.580) during Solich's tenure -- including 64-40 (.615) in MAC play. Two more victories will put Solich in the company of Don Peden (1924-46; 121 wins) and Bill Hess (1958-77; 108) as the only coaches in the history of the program to lead the Bobcats to at least 100 victories. Solich has guided Ohio to four MAC East Division titles (2006, '09, '11, '16) and three bowl victories in nine appearances.
• Ohio was tabbed MAC favorite in the league's preseason media poll, which was announced in late July. The Bobcats were picked first in the East Division with a league-best 140 total points. Ohio was also selected to win the 2018 Marathon MAC Football Championship Game, which will be held at Ford Field on Friday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. The contest will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
LIFTING THE LID
With its victory over Howard, Ohio is now 9-5 (.643) in season openers in the Solich era. The Bobcats picked up their second-straight victory in a season opener and fourth in the last five seasons. Ohio is now 11-3 (.786) all-time in season openers under Solich -- including seven victories in their last eight tries.
ON THE OFFENSIVE
Ohio recorded 423 total yards of offense in the victory over Howard, making it the third-straight game that it has registered 400 or more yards dating back to last season.
Redshirt senior wide receiver Papi White (Seminole, Okla.) enjoyed a career day in the win over Howard, racked up a career-high 154 receiving yards on a career-high eight receptions and hauled in a touchdown. He became the first Bobcat wide receiver to register 150-plus receiving yards since Sebastian Smith achieved the feat on Sept. 17, 2016 against then-No. 15-ranked Tennessee. White recorded his second career game with at least 100 yards receiving.
MAXWELL TAKES ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITY
Redshirt junior quarterback Quinton Maxwell (Rayville, Mo.), who came on in relief of junior starting quarterback Nathan Rourke (Oakville, Ontario, Canada) in the second quarter, threw for two scores and ran for two more to spark Ohio's win over Howard. He finished 17-of-25 with 233 yards passing. Maxwell matched his career highs for completions (17) and passing touchdowns (2) and set a new career high by running for two scores. His four total touchdowns marked a career high.
KNOCKING ON HEAVEN'S DOOR
Redshirt junior wide receiver/kick returner DL Knock (Springboro, Ohio) helped swing the momentum of the contest against Howard in favor of the Bobcats when took the second-half kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown to tie a school record. Ohio was trailing Howard, 22-17, at halftime, but Knock's return sparked a stretch in which it scored two touchdowns in 1:37 to flip the script.
Knock became the first Ohio player to bring a kick back 100 yards since Daz' Patterson went 100 yards to the house against Buffalo on Oct. 6, 2012. It marked the first time Ohio returned a kickoff for a touchdown since Nov. 25, 2014 at Miami when Kylan Nelson (Lexington, Ky,) brought one back 84 yards. Knock finished the game with three kickoff returns for 125 yards.
Knock was named the MAC East Division Week One Special Teams Player of the Week on Sept. 3. He became the first Bobcat to be named MAC East Division Special Teams Player of the Week since kicker Louie Zervos (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) earned honors in Week 11 of the 2017 season.
TURNOVER BELT COMES UP CLUTCH
Ohio's defense produced four takeaways in the victory over Howard.
Howard opened the new season with sophomore quarterback Caylin Newton finding junior wide receiver Jequez Ezzard for a gain of 59 yards on the first play from scrimmage. Ohio redshirt senior safety Kylan Nelson (Lexington, Ky.) came up with the first big play of the year for the Ohio defense, though, forcing Ezzard to cough up the ball, with redshirt senior cornerback Jalen Fox (Cincinnati, Ohio) recovering it to give Ohio possession.
In the second quarter, Newton completed a 20-yard pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Jason Collins to move the ball to the Ohio 28, but redshirt sophomore safety Jarren Hampton (Fostoria, Ohio) forced a fumble that sophomore cornerback Marlin Brooks (Miami, Fla.) recovered.
After Knock's kick return for a touchdown, senior linebacker Evan Croutch (Youngstown, Ohio) picked Newton off to set up shop for the Ohio offense at the Howard 33. Maxwell scored on a one-yard keeper to extend Ohio's lead to 31-22. The interception marked the first of Croutch's career.
Finally, with 18 seconds remaining in the contest, redshirt sophomore cornerback Ilyaas Motley (Centerville, Ohio) intercepted Newton for his first career pick, sealing the victory for Ohio.
Perhaps some of the credit for the takeaways can be attributed to the Ohio defense's new sideline prop: The Turnover Belt, which is a WWE-replica championship belt that is awarded to individuals who force the opposition to turn the ball over.
Ohio and Virginia are set to square off for just the second time. Virgini won the lone previous meeting, 41-7, on Oct. 2, 1993, when the Cavaliers were ranked No. 21 in the nation. The Bobcats will be looking for their first win over the ACC since beating former conference member Maryland, 21-14, on Sept. 6, 1997, in College Park, Md.
Virginia has started the 2018 season 1-1, earning a 42-13 win at home over Richmond on Sept. 1, but falling at Indiana, 20-16, on Saturday (Sept. 8).
Bronco Mendenhall is in his third season as the head coach of the Cavaliers, owning a record of 9-18 (.333). He arrived in Charlottesville prior to the 2016 season after spending 11 years as the head coach at BYU.
The Cavaliers were picked to finish last in the ACC Coastal Division in the conference's preseason poll.
Junior quarterback Bryce Perkins has thrown for 291 yards with four touchdowns against one interception through two games. Senior halfback Olamide Zaccheaus is Virginia's leading receiver with 11 catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns. The Cavaliers have been picked off the opposition three times so far, with sophomore free safety Joey Blount, sophomore free safety Brenton Nelson and senior strong safety Juan Thornhill all recording interceptions.
Ohio makes the drive across the state to take on Cincinnati next Saturday (Sept. 22) at Nippert Stadium.