FOXBORO, Mass. -Ohio Football kept up its winning ways on Saturday afternoon, picking up a victory at UMass by a final score of 37-34. The win pushes the Bobcats' record to 5-0, a mark which has not been achieved since the 1968 season.
Junior running back Beau Blankenship (Norman, Okla.) had a great day on the ground for the Green and White, rumbling for 269 yards and two touchdowns on 43 carries. He surpassed 100 yards on the ground for the fifth straight time this season and averaged 6.3 yards per carry. Blankenship's 269 yards on the ground marked the first time an Ohio running back has rushed for 250 yards or more since Kalvin McRae did it against Ball State in 2005.
Quarterback Tyler Tettleton also had a strong afternoon, completing 15-of-27 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns. As he has been able to do all season, Tettleton spread the ball well among his receiving corps, hitting eight different receivers in the win. The junior signal-caller has now cracked into the top three of the school's all-time career completions list with 357.
Mike Wegzyn performed well for the hosts, completing 27 of his 51 passing attempts for 373 yards and four touchdowns. The Minutemen outgained Ohio in the game, recording 511 yards to the Bobcats' 503.
UMass played a strong first quarter, slightly outgaining the Bobcats, 144-127. The Minutemen held Ohio (5-0, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) to a three-and-out on its opening possession and then worked methodically down the field on their first drive of the day, going 82 yards on 12 plays in 3:52. Wegzyn opened the scoring with a 27-yard touchdown pass to teammate Alan Williams, making it 7-0. Ohio was able to answer back on its next drive, working 73 yards up the field in 16 plays and scoring its first points of the game via a Matt Weller (Twinsburg, Ohio) 27-yard field goal.
The teams then traded field goals on their next two possessions. UMass hit a 30-yarder to make it 10-3 with 1:54 left in the first quarter and Weller connected on a 24-yarder 3:13 into the second quarter to shrink the Minutemen's lead to four.
Blankenship had a terrific first half for the Bobcats, scampering for more than 100 yards in the first 30 minutes. On his 16th carry of the game he surpassed the 100-yard mark for the fifth straight game, something which hasn't been achieved by an Ohio running back since the 2007 season. Beau's running paced the Bobcats to their first touchdown of the game, a one-yard strike from Tettleton to Troy Hill (New Kensington, Pa.) with 5:40 remaining in the first half. Weller converted the PAT to give the Bobcats their first lead of the afternoon at 13-10.
UMass (0-5, 0-2 MAC) appeared to be set to take a four-point lead into the halftime break before two important plays by the Ohio offense in the final 90 seconds. Facing a fourth-and-one, Tettleton rushed up the middle to gain the necessary yardage before hitting wide receiver Chase Cochran (Lebanon, Ohio) with a pinpoint touchdown pass down the sideline for 41 yards to give the `Cats a 20-17 lead at the end of the half.
To open the second half, UMass drove 81 yards down the field in 12 plays to score the first touchdown of the period. The Minutemen capped off this scoring drive with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Wegzyn to Deion Walker, making it 24-20 following the ensuing PAT with 10:54 to play in the third quarter. This marked the fourth lead change of the game.
The Minutemen grasped some momentum in the third quarter, beginning when they blocked a Weller field goal attempt. UMass was then able to drive down the field once more, connecting on a 23-yard field goal with 3:15 left in the third quarter to take a 27-20 lead.
Culminating a drive which spanned the end of the third to the beginning of the fourth quarter, Blankenship plunged into the end zone on a five-yard run to level the game at 27-apiece. Blankenship's TD run was his first of the day, fourth of the season and was the 11th play of a 78-yard drive which took 4:27 off the clock. The `Cats then took a 30-27 lead with 9:35 remaining in the game when Weller knocked in a 26-yard field goal. The successful kick was his third of the day.
Blankenship then gave Ohio some breathing room with 6:13 remaining in the contest, bursting through the middle of the line to run for a 40-yard touchdown. Weller's ensuing PAT put the `Cats ahead by a healthy ten-point margin, 37-27.
UMass made it interesting at the end, scoring to pull within three points when Wegzyn found Williams for an 11-yard TD strike to make it 37-34. Ohio's defense was able to shut down the Minutemen from this point on.
Ohio Football will next be in action on Saturday, Oct. 6 when Buffalo comes to Athens. The Bobcats and Bulls will kick off from Peden Stadium at noon.