Nov. 24, 2006
OXFORD, Ohio - Junior running back Kalvin McRae (Decatur, Ga.) recorded his seventh-straight 100-yard game, running for a season-best 180 yards, as the Bobcats topped Miami 34-24 Friday at Yager Stadium. The win marked the first time in school history that the Bobcats recorded seven Mid-American Conference wins in a single season.
Ohio's (9-3, 7-1) nine wins this season is the most since the 1968 team went 10-1 and is the fourth-most in school history. The seven-game winning streak is the longest by a Bobcat team since the '68 team won 10 straight contests to open the season. Friday's win also snapped a six-game losing steak against Miami and marked the first Ohio victory in Oxford since the 1993 season. The win is Ohio's fifth road win this season, the most since the 1968 Bobcats also recorded five wins on the road.
The Bobcats used another stellar performance by McRae to earn the win against their biggest rivals. McRae finished the contest with a season-high 180 yards on 22 carries for an 8.2-yard average with two touchdowns. McRae led the Bobcats to 437 yards of total offense, their second-highest output of the season. Ohio finished with 304 yards on the ground on 44 rushing attempts.
McRae's big day continued to advance him in the Bobcat record books in several different categories. The 100-yard performance was his eighth of the season, tying him for first place with Steveland Hoofkin for the most 100-yard games in a single season. McRae moved over 1,000 yards on the season, with 1,139 yards on the year, to become only the second Bobcat ever to record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Arnold Welcher also accomplished the feat in 1975 and 1976. The season total for McRae is the fourth-most rushing yards in a single season by a Bobcat. His two rushing touchdowns on the day gave him 14 on the season, tying Kareem Wilson for the most rushing touchdowns in a single season. McRae now has 25 career rushing touchdowns, good for a fourth-place tie on the Ohio career rushing touchdown ledger, and also moved into sole possession of fourth place in Ohio career total touchdowns with 28. The junior running back advanced to fourth place on Ohio's all-time rushing list with 2,851 career rushing yards.
Junior quarterback Brad Bower (Burr Ridge, Ill.) started the contest for an injured Austen Everson (Brentwood, Tenn.) and finished 10-for-17 for 133 yards and one interception. Bower also carried the ball 13 times for 84 yards and a touchdown in the victory. His top target was senior Scott Mayle (Philippi, W.Va.), who caught three passes for 88 yards. Mayle moved into sole possession of second place in Ohio history with 1,776 career receiving yards. He has 101 career receptions, good for seventh-place in school history.
Seniors Matt Muncy (Miamisburg, Ohio) and T.J. Wright (Beaumont, Texas) led the Bobcat defense with seven tackles apiece. Wright recorded two passes defended, a fumble forced and a fumble recovery while Muncy added 1.5 sacks in the win. Sophomore Jameson Hartke (Centerville, Ohio) finished with five tackles and a sack on the day.
Miami quarterback Mike Kokal led his team in rushing and passing as he went 20-for-36 for 180 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while also carrying the ball 13 times for 95 yards and a touchdown. His top target was Ryne Robinson with eight receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown.
After a Miami punt on the first possession of the game, Ohio started a drive inside its own five-yard line and drove out near the 40-yard line. The RedHawks ended the drive on an interception by Joey Card, who returned it back to the Ohio 26-yard line. Miami was able to take advantage of the good starting field position, as Trevor Cook converted on a 23-yard field goal attempt to give the RedHawks a 3-0 lead with 5:25 remaining in the first quarter.
Senior Scott Mayle (Philippi, W.Va.) gave the Bobcats good field position on the following kickoff as he returned it to the Ohio 46-yard line. After a penalty on Miami moved the ball into RedHawk territory, Bower scrambled up the middle and had a clear view all the way to the endzone. The junior quarterback broke free but was caught from behind at the five-yard line by Robbie Wilson, who knocked the ball loose into the endzone. Wilson was able to fall on the ball for a Miami touchback to prevent the Ohio touchdown.
The Ohio defense stepped up and forced a RedHawk punt and the offense responded with a three-play, 59-yard scoring drive. McRae was all the offense the Bobcats needed on the drive, running for gains of nine and two yards before breaking through off right tackle for a 48-yard touchdown run. McRae leapt from the two-yard line and extended the ball across the end-line for the touchdown. The play was originally ruled out of bounds at the one-yard line but an official review proved that McRae stayed in bounds for the score. Senior Matt Lasher (Copley, Ohio) converted on the extra-point for a 7-3 Ohio lead late in the first quarter.
The RedHawks answered the Bobcat scored on the very next possession, driving 82 yards on 11 plays to regain a three-point lead. Kokal hooked up with Robinson to cap the drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass. Cook hit the point-after to give Miami a 10-7 lead with 10:58 left in the first half. Kokal completed passes of 22, 18 and 11 yards on the scoring drive.
The Bobcats regained the lead with 1:18 remaining in the first half when Ohio drove 98 yards on nine plays. Bower put the finishing touches on the drive with an 11-yard option play that he took to the right side. The junior quarterback followed a block from fullback Mitch Morsillo (Moon, Pa.) and reached the endzone for the score. The big plays on the drive were completions of 16 and 38 yards from Bower to Mayle to set up the touchdown. Lasher's kick was wide but the Bobcats took a 13-10 lead into halftime.
Miami took little time to go back out in front as the RedHawks scored just 3:23 into the third quarter for a 17-13 lead. The Bobcats had the first possession of the half, but a fumbled snap on an Ohio punt attempt gave Miami the ball deep in Bobcat territory. On the third play of the ensuing drive, Kokal found Tom Crabtree from four yards out to give the RedHawks the lead.
The Bobcats were held to three-and-out on the following possession and were forced to punt, but the RedHawks muffed the kick and junior Josh Abrams (Dunwoody, Ga.) recovered the ball to give Ohio the ball near midfield. The Bobcats pulled within a point with 5:02 remaining in the third quarter on a 20-yard field goal by Lasher following the recovery. A 34-yard pass completion from Bower to Mayle set up Lasher's field goal.
After a three-and-out by Miami, McRae once again gave the Bobcats the lead with a career-long 66-yard touchdown run on the first play of the drive. Ohio opted to go for the two-point conversion to make it an even seven-point lead, and it was McRae again finding the endzone for a 24-17 Bobcat lead.
The back-and-forth saga continued on the following drive as Miami scored its third touchdown of the contest with 14:05 remaining in the game to knot the game at 24. Kokal capped off the nine-play, 84-yard scoring drive with a career-long 36-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-one attempt.
On the following Ohio possession, Bower went down with an injury and redshirt freshman Josh Febus (Dublin, Ohio) replaced him. After gains of 11 and two yards by McRae, Febus handed off to freshman Chris Garrett (Bristow, Va.) on a reverse play and Garrett went around left end and found open field. The freshman speedster crossed the field and received a block from Febus downfield that freed him up to get to the one-yard line. On the following play Febus took it into the endzone for his first career touchdown and a 31-24 Bobcat lead.
The Bobcat defense came up big on the following possession as junior Landon Cohen (Spartansburg, S.C.) put pressure on Kokal, forcing a bad throw that sophomore Hartke picked off for his first career interception. Ohio took advantage of the short field, as Lasher connected on a 27-yard field goal for a 34-24 Bobcat lead. The field goal was the ninth-consecutive made attempt for Lasher and his 12 successful attempt on the year, good for a second-place tie in Ohio single-season history.
Ohio's defense finished off any RedHawk hope on the next possession with sacks of Kokal on three consecutive plays. Cohen and senior Muncy got to Kokal on first down and Muncy recorded a solo sack on the next play. Facing third-and-long, Hartke brought Kokal down in the backfield to force a fourth-and-27. Hartke again brought the pressure on the long fourth down, hitting Kokal as he threw to force an incompletion. On Miami's next and final possession, Wright forced and recovered a fumble to put the RedHawks away for good as Ohio left Oxford with a 34-24 victory.
For the first time since 1968, Ohio's regular-season finale does not mean the end of the Bobcat football season. Ohio will play in the MAC Championship Game next Thursday from Ford Field in Detroit.