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Bobcats Lose GMAC Bowl, 28-7

Jan. 8, 2007

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MOBILE, Ala. - The Ohio football team ended its 2006 season with a 28-7 loss to Southern Mississippi in the GMAC Bowl on Jan. 7, 2007 in front of 38,751 fans at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The Bobcats ended the campaign with a 9-5 record, their most wins since 1968.

The Bobcats appearance in the GMAC Bowl was the program's first bowl game since 1968. Ohio also reached milestones with a school-record seven MAC wins and its first MAC East Division championship.

Kalvin McRae (Decatur, Ga.) finished the game with 37 yards on 10 carries. He ended his junior season with 1,252 yards, the second most in school history. McRae ran for a school-record 15 touchdowns in 2006.

Senior quarterback Austen Everson (Brentwood, Tenn.) played the final game of his career, completing 14-of his career-high 34 pass attempts for 175 yards and a touchdown. Everson ended his tenure as the Bobcats' signal caller ranked fourth in Ohio history with 3,586 passing yards, third with 608 pass attempts, fifth with 305 completions and tied for fifth with 18 touchdown passes. Everson's career-high 137 completions in 2006 is tied for sixth on the Bobcats' single-season ledger.

Senior wide receiver Scott Mayle (Philippi, W.Va.) caught four passes for 56 yards, both team highs. Mayle capped his career with 107 catches, the fourth most in school history. His 1,847 career receiving yards is the second most ever by a Bobcat receiver. Senior tight end Thomas Christy (South Euclid, Ohio) saved his best game for his last with two catches for 43 yards and a touchdown, all career highs.

The senior linebacking trio of Tyler Russ (Stetsonville, Wis.), Matt Muncy (Miamisburg, Ohio) and Michael Graham (Cincinnati, Ohio) led the Bobcat defense with nine, six and six tackles, respectively. The trio combined for 4.5 tackles for loss, including two by Muncy. The Bobcat middle linebacker finished his career with 204 solo tackles, the second most in Bobcat history. Muncy also closes his career ranked fourth on the career tackles for loss ledger with 39.5.

Senior cornerback T.J. Wright (Beaumont, Texas) had four tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and recorded an interception. Wright finished his career with the Bobcats as the school's all-time leader in pass break-ups (44) and passes defended (57). His 13 interceptions is tied for third in school history.

Southern Miss quarterback Jeremy Young completed 14-of-22 throws for 160 yards. Freshman running back Damion Fletcher had 58 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, while Tory Harrison had 68 yards and one score on nine rushing attempts. Josh Barnes led the Golden Eagles with four catches for 59 yards.

The Golden Eagles outgained the Bobcats, 284-224 and held a time of possession advantage of more than 10 minutes (35:05-24:55). Southern Miss was particularly effective on third down, converting 7-of-14 opportunities.

Ohio hit its first big play of the night when Everson connected with Christy (South Euclid, Ohio) for a 30-yard pass play on the first play of the Bobcats' second drive. The play was the longest of Christy's career.

Southern Miss had the first scoring opportunity of the contest, driving to the Ohio 23-yard line, but Darren McCaleb's 40-yard field goal attempt was wide left, keeping the score tied at 0-0 with 2:07 left in the first quarter.

All 21 points in the first half were scored in the final nine minutes of the second quarter. The Golden Eagles scored the first points of the game when Tory Harrison went off the right side for 43 yards. McCaleb's extra point made it 7-0 with 8:33 left in the half. Harrison's touchdown run capped an eight-play, 90-yard drive that took 3:30 off the clock.

Southern Miss made it 14-0 on its next possession. Fletcher capped a nine-play, 60-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run with 3:03 left in the half. Fletcher's touchdown was set up by a 30-yard completion from Young to Barnes that converted a third-and-10 and gave the Golden Eagles a first down at the Bobcat two-yard line.

The Golden Eagles' defense provided the third score of the night on the Bobcats' ensuing possession. James Denley stepped in front of a pass by Bower and returned it 18 yards for the score. McCaleb's third extra point of the half gave USM a 21-0 lead with 1:13 left in the half.

Southern Miss held a 198-97 advantage in total offense through the first two quarters. McRae led the Bobcats with 26 yards on six carries. Everson was 5-of-9 for 64 yards through the air. Harrison had 54 yards and a touchdown on three carries for the Golden Eagles, while the Bobcats' defense limited Fletcher to 28 yards on 10 attempts. Young completed 10-of-15 passes for 127 yards through two quarters.

The 21-0 score at intermission was the Bobcats' largest halftime deficit of the season and marked the first time this season Ohio was shut out in the first half.

Southern Mississippi took the opening kickoff of the second half and went 80 yards to take a 28-0 lead, capped by a nine-yard touchdown run by Fletcher. The Golden Eagles ran 17 plays and took 9:55 off the third-quarter clock.

After trading punts, the Bobcats got on the board with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Everson to Christy. Matt Lasher's (Copley, Ohio) extra point made it 28-7 with 9:34 left in the game left in the fourth quarter. The drive covered 58 yards in 13 plays and took 5:42 off the clock. Christy finished his senior season tied for the team lead with three touchdown catches.

The Bobcat defense stopped the Golden Eagles on their next possession, but a tipped pass resulted in an interception. Ohio got the ball right back when Wright intercepted a pass at the Ohio nine-yard line and returned it to the 25-yard line for his career-best fourth interception of the season.

Ohio equaled its best-ever turnaround in program history, going from 4-7 in 2005 to 9-5 in 2006.