ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio Football captured first place in the MAC East Division with a 35-31 victory over Temple on Wednesday night at Peden Stadium. Tyler Tettleton accounted for four touchdowns and Donte Harden amassed an Ohio single-game record 322 all-purpose yards in the win.
For the third year in a row, the Bobcats became bowl eligible as the team moved to 6-3, 3-2 in league play. The Owls fell to 5-4, 3-3 in MAC action.
Trailing 31-28 with less than five minutes remaining, Harden found himself on the receiving end of the longest catch of his career, a 50-yard gain to the Temple 23. On 3rd and goal, Tettleton rolled out and connected on his third touchdown pass of the night, a five-yard hook up with Donte Foster, with 1:41 left.
Back in the driver's seat at 35-31, Ohio forced Temple into an incompletion on fourth down that gave the ball back to the Bobcats at the Owl 33. Ohio lined up in the victory formation and celebrated a hard-fought win over an intense rival.
Tettleton finished 15-of-24 for 258 yards and threw three touchdown strikes, tying his career high. He also ran the ball 11 times and picked up a score on the ground. Harden picked up 184 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries and also collected 75 yards receiving and a score through the air.
LaVon Brazill had a monster game as well with 165 yards on seven catches for the Bobcats. Defensively, Noah Keller racked up 15 tackles to pace the Green & White with Jelani Woseley finishing with nine tackles.
On Ohio's first drive of the game, the Bobcats marched 80 yards in five plays to grab a 7-0 lead. Harden broke off a 33-yard run and on the next play, Tettleton found him on a 25-yard strike for the early lead. The TD catch by Harden was his second of the season.
After forcing a punt, Ohio used the big play once more as Tettleton dropped it off to LaVon Brazill for a 56-yard gain. It set Matt Weller up for what would have been a career-long 53 yard field goal, but the junior missed wide left.
After an Ohio fumble left Temple with a short field, the Owls evened the score on a six-yard touchdown pass from Chris Coyer to Evan Rodriguez. It was the sophomore's first scoring strike of his career.
On a trick play which fooled the Owl defense, Phil Bates connected with Tettleton for a 23-yard gain. The catch was the sophomore's first of his career. Three catches by Brazill on the drive pushed him over the century mark in the first half and Ohio reclaimed the lead on a Tettleton five-yard scamper up the gut at 14-7. It was the quarterback's sixth touchdown run of the season, tops on the team.
After forcing a three-and-out, Ohio drove to the Temple 31 before the drive stalled and Ohio missed its second field goal of the night. Temple responded with a three-play drive that ended with a 35-yard bomb from Coyer to Rod Streater. The scoring play for the Owls was preceded by a zone read keeper from Coyer that went for 34 yards.
With the score tied, 14-14, at the intermission, Ohio held an edge in total offense, 261-153, and an advantage in first downs, 13-6.
On Temple's first drive of the second half, it marched down the field behind Coyer. The Owl quarterback used his legs to tear off two big runs before fumbling on a third carry at the Ohio 16 yard line. Temple had completed a long pass inside the Ohio 5, but the play was wiped off due to offensive interference on the Owls.
Ohio took over deep in its own territory and its quick-strike offense hit the Owls between the eyes with the longest scoring play of the year. Harden broke off an 81-yard touchdown run, also the longest rush of his career, to push the `Cats back in front by a touchdown, 21-14.
On the ensuing kickoff, Temple had another big play nullified by a mental error as a block in the back canceled out a touchdown return. However, the play did not disparage the Owls as they drove down the field in eight plays and Bernard Pierce scored on a 20-yard run, his 19th touchdown on the ground this season.
Facing a 4th and 4 at its own 34, Temple reached into its bag of tricks and punter Brandon McManus took off on a 22-yard run across midfield to give the Owls new life.
Another big run by Coyer on 3rd and 5 picked up 21 yards and put Temple in the red zone. Ohio's defense tightened and held Temple to a short field goal. The Owls' first lead of the game, 24-21, occurred with 10:57 showing in regulation.
Trailing for the first time, Tettleton found Brazill for a 30-yard pickup that put the ball on the right side of midfield. On 3rd and 4 at the Temple 30, Tettleton aired it out one more time, connecting with Brazill down to the 2-yard line.
On the ensuing play, Tettleton threw his second score of the night, this time to Jordan Thompson. It was the junior's first touchdown of the season and it gave Ohio a 28-24 lead with 7:51 to go in the fourth quarter.
Temple responded with Coyer continuing his stellar play. After a 31-yard run to the Ohio 36, he found Streater for a 27-yard gain on 3rd and 11 to the Ohio 10. On 3rd and goal, Coyer connected with Deon Miller for a nine-yard touchdown. Miller's second touchdown of the year made it 31-28, Temple, with under five minutes to play.