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Bobcats Retain Bell, Defeat Rival Marshall, 34-31

Devin Bass led Ohio with a game-high 11 tackles and hauled in a key fourth-quarter interception.

Sept. 15, 2013

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ATHENS, Ohio - The Ohio University football team (2-1) won the Battle For The Bell for the third-straight season after racing past the Marshall Thundering Herd (2-1) by a score of 34-31 Saturday evening in front of 24,836 fans inside Peden Stadium.

The Bobcats led by as many as 14 (31-17) with 12 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, then withstood a furious Marshall rally to hang on for the victory.

Senior quarterback Tyler Tettleton (Norman, Okla.) threw for a season-high 266 yards and a touchdown while senior running back Beau Blankenship (Norman, Okla.) rushed for 39 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Ohio offense. Senior wideout Donte' Foster (Guthrie, Okla.) hauled in a team-high eight catches for 80 yards, while senior Matt Waters (Council Bluffs, Iowa) notched a team-high 83 yards on six catches.

Senior tight end Troy Hill (New Kensington, Pa.) caught four passes for 44 yards, including a touchdown grab in the first quarter.

Defensively, sophomore cornerback Devin Bass (Omaha, Neb.) made a game-high 11 tackles and grabbed a key interception in the fourth quarter. The `Cats were out-gained by Marshall, 366-275, but held a key +4 advantage in the turnover battle on the night.

The `Cats defense provided a crucial spark on the game's first series, as senior safety Xavier Hughes (Germantown, Md.) forced a fumble by the Herd's Essray Talliaferro that was recovered by sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Purdum (London, Ohio).

On the ensuing Bobcat possession, Tettleton stormed the Green & White down the field, highlighted by a nice scramble that resulted in a 30-yard completion to Hill. Tettleton then found Blankenship for a 10-yard completion to the Marshall five-yard line.

Then, on a key 3rd-and-goal play, Tettleton connected with Hill for a four-yard score to give Ohio a 7-0 lead with 9:09 to go in the first quarter.

The `Cats were aggressive again on defense on the next Marshall drive, as junior Nathan Carpenter (Lancaster, Ohio) forced a fumble on the first Herd play that was recovered by the `Cats at the Marshall 31-yard line.

Ohio went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, resulting in a 45-yard field goal attempt from sophomore kicker Matt Green (Lexington, Ky.) that went wide left.

Marshall took over at their own 28-yard line and began a 10-play, 72-yard drive (3:39) that included two completions of 18-yards-or-more from quarterback Rakeem Cato. A one-yard touchdown scamper by Herd tailback Kevin Grooms tied the score at seven with 3:39 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Herd moved into Ohio territory again late in the first quarter, but a key sack by sophomore linebacker Ben Russell (Cincinnati, Ohio) on first down helped the Bobcats prevent the scoring chance and force a Marshall punt.

After Ohio's first drive of the second quarter stalled at the Marshall 41, the `Cats forced a Marshall punt, then drove 39 yards over nine plays to set up a 32-yard field goal attempt from Green. The sequence included a 21-yard completion from Tettleton to Matt Waters. Green connected on the attempt and Ohio took a 10-7 lead with 7:43 to play in the half.

The ensuing kickoff proved to be one of the most important plays of the game. After Josiah Yazdani booted his kick to the Marshall five-yard line, the Herd's Steward Butler picked up the ball and promptly fumbled it. Freshman Toran Davis (Lithonia, Ga.) raced to the ball, grabbed it and strode into the end zone to make it 17-7 Bobcats with 5:03 remaining in the stanza.

Marshall cut into the Ohio lead as time wore down in the half, as the Thundering Herd put together a 10-play, 93-yard drive in just 1:23 to set up a successful 22-yard field goal attempt from Justin Haig. The `Cats entered halftime ahead by seven (17-10).

The Bobcats raced out of the gates in the third quarter, as Ohio put together a nine-play, 79-yard drive that increased the team's lead to 24-10 with 10:46 to go in the quarter. The drive included a crucial 3rd-and-8 conversion from the Marshall 38-yard line, when Tettleton lobbed a 28-yard pass down the right side line that Cochran hauled in to thrust Ohio into the red zone.

After a 15-yard pass from Tettleton to Waters set up 1st-and-goal at the Marshall three-yard line, Blankenship found a hole in the Herd defense and rolled into the end zone for the score.

Marshall answered back with a long drive of its own. The 15-play, 68-yard sequence ate up more than five minutes of clock and resulted in a Herd touchdown. A three-yard run for the score from Taliaferro moved Marshall back within seven (24-17) with 5:33 to go in the third quarter.

The offense continued to come in droves in the third quarter, as Ohio marched back down the field after the Marshall score behind a 14-yard run from Blankenship and a 10-yard completion from Tettleton to Waters. With the ball at the Marshall 35-yard line, Tettleton found Waters again, this time for a 17-yard gain, to move Ohio into the red zone.

After two nice completions to Foster for gains of eight and 14 yards, Blankenship pounded the ball into the end zone for a three-yard touchdown scamper to give Ohio a two touchdown lead (31-17) over the Herd. The impressive drive included a season-best 18 plays for 75 yards that took more than eight minutes off the clock.

Marshall took over again with 12:02 to play in the fourth quarter and quickly thundered back into the game, as Cato found Hoskins for a 38-yard touchdown grab. The play moved Marshall within seven (31-24) with 10:17 remaining in the contest.

On Ohio's next drive, the `Cats moved into Marshall territory after a 19-yard slant from Tettleton to Foster, but could not capitalize on the drive and were forced to punt.

Marshall took over at their own 17-yard line, but on the first play from scrimmage, Cato's intended receiver slipped and his pass was picked off by Bass. From there, senior tailback Ryan Boykin (Woodstock, Ga.) powered through an acrobatic 14-yard rush, then Tettleton found Foster for an eight-yard gain to set up 1st-and-10 at the Marshall 11-yard line.

After the drive stalled, Ohio settled for a 29-yard field goal from Matt Green that moved the 'Cats back in front by 10 (34-24) with 2:46 to go in the game.

The Herd got the ball back and immediately began moving down the field in a no-huddle offense. Marshall rushed into the Ohio red zone, then punched the ball in on a four-yard rush by Cato to cut the Bobcat lead to three (34-31) with 29 seconds to go. Marshall attempted an onside kick on the next play, but the kick went out of bounds and Ohio took a knee to secure the victory.

The crowd of more than 24,000 marked the third-largest in Peden Stadium history.

The Bobcats return to action next Saturday at Peden Stadium with a 2 p.m. contest against Austin Peay.