April 21, 2007
ATHENS, Ohio -Jason Brand ran for a score and Brandon Jones threw for another to lead the White team to a 17-3 victory over the Green in the Bobcats' annual spring game at Peden Stadium on Saturday, April 21.
The scrimmage was played using a regular game format with the squad being split into two teams. The Green team consisted of the first-team offense and the second and third-team defenses, while the White team was the first-team defense and second and third-team offenses. Jones (Marietta, Ga.) quarterbacked exclusively for the White team, while Josh Febus (Dublin, Ohio) and Theo Scott (Long Beach, Calif.) played for both teams. Quarterback Brad Bower (Burr Ridge, Ill.) did not participate while resting an injured knee. Several other players also participated on both squads.
The defenses limited the Ohio offenses to 309 yards on 106 plays. The White team finished with 74 yards rushing and 97 yards passing, while the Green had 25 yards on the ground and 113 through the air. Safety Michael Mitchell (Ft. Thomas, Ky.) and Mark Parson (Richmond, Va.) accounted for the lone turnover of the day by forcing and recovering a fumble, respectively.
"We went ones versus ones all spring, including today," Head Coach Frank Solich said. "I've never been involved in a spring game where you're gong ones versus ones, twos versus twos and threes versus threes that's been an explosive game. Usually, it's a lot like this was without a lot of big plays."
Senior middle linebacker Taj Henley (Richmond, Va.) led the defense with 11 tackles, including 3.0 for loss. The new starting linebacker trio of Henley, Michael Brown (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Jordan Meyers (Harrison, Ohio) combined for 19 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss, including two sacks, and three pass break-ups. The Bobcat defense totaled five sacks in the contest.
"I really like their (the linebackers) ability to run," Solich said. "They're a physical group too. They're going to make some mistakes, but they're young and learning. They'll be interesting to watch this year with their ability to run and make plays sideline to sideline."
Cornerback Julian Posey (Cincinnati, Ohio) also made 11 stops, including nine solo stops.
Scott led the quarterbacks, completing 9-of-16 passes for 86 yards. He rushed eight times for 12 yards, and accounted for the Bobcats' longest play of the game when he cut back on an option play for a 44-yard run. Febus was 9-for-22 for 62 yards, while Jones was 5-for-13 for 15 yards and a touchdown. Miles Schlichter (Greenfield, Ohio) was 0-for-4. None of the four signal callers threw an interception.
"He'll (Scott) be the type of quarterback that's able to scramble and make some big plays on broken and busted plays," Solich said. "He also has the ability to be a good passer. It will be interesting to see how this plays out when Brad (Bower) gets back in the fall. It's going to be a battle to see who takes the quarterback spot over."
Josh Abrams (Dunwoody, Ga.) led the running backs with a combined 15 carries for 40 yards. Brand (Springfield, Va.) ran the ball 10 times for 14 yards and a score. Two-time first-team All-MAC runner Kalvin McRae (Decatur, Ga.) had nine yards on five carries and did not play in the second half.
On the receiving front, Abrams led the team with four catches. Justin Fitzgerald (Richmond, Va.) had three catches for 22 yards, while Chris Garrett (Bristow, Va.) made three receptions for a team-high 43 yards, including a 26-yard catch and run for the Bobcats' longest passing play of the afternoon. Robert Preston (Columbs, Ohio) had one catch, an 11-yard scoring pass from Jones. In all, 15 different players caught at least one pass.
Michael Braunstein (Gilbert, Ariz.) was 2-for-3 on field goal attempts, connecting from 34 and 38 yards. His miss was a 32-yard attempt on the final play of the first half. Braunstein also averaged 59 yards on two kickoffs and made both PAT attempts. Punter Matt Schulte (Cincinnati, Ohio) averaged 35.3 yards on 11 kicks, including a long of 48. He put three punts inside the 20-yard line.
The Green team had the first possession and picked up the day's initial first down on a 15-yard screen pass from Febus to McRae. That would be it though as the defense forced the day's first punt. The White team put up the only points of the first half on its first possession. Scott completed all three of his passes for eight yards and ran for another 58 yards on the drive. Braunstein hit a 34-yard field goal to put the White team ahead, 3-0.
The score would remain 3-0 through the remainder of the half. The defense set up the first touchdown of the afternoon when Mitchell stripped Abrams, and Parson retuned the ball 14 yards for the White to the Green 20-yard line. Brand capped the drive with a six-yard touchdown run.
The Green team got on the board on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 38-yard field goal by Braunstein. A 26-yard completion from Scott to Garrett was the big play on the drive that moved the ball within field goal range.
The game's final score was again set up by the defense. Facing a fourth-and-17 from his own 28-yard line, Scott was taken down for a loss of 19 yards by Eric Kenkel (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Conor Reilly (Hudson, Ohio) to give the White team a first down at the Green nine-yard line. After a false start on the first play and a two-yard loss on the second play, the White faced a second-and-goal from the 16-yard line. A five-yard run by Brand preceded Jones' 11-yard scoring pass to Preston on third-and-goal.
The Green put one final drive together, moving to the White 30-yard line on the strength of three straight completions by Febus. The drive stalled, however and the game ended after a fourth-down incompletion.
The Bobcats took the opportunity to remember Ohio soccer player Sarah Merritt who passed away on March 21 and the victims of last week's tragedy at Virginia Tech. Each player sported a Virginia Tech logo on one side of their helmet and the number 26, Merritt's jersey number at Ohio, on the other.
"We wanted to remember Sarah," Solich said. "She was a part of what we're all about here at Ohio University. We also wanted to pay respects to all the people at Virginia Tech who were affected so much."
The game marked the end of the Bobcats' 15-practice spring season. The team begins official fall preparation in August, and the Bobcats will begin defense of their MAC East Division championship on Saturday, Sept. 1 at Peden Stadium versus Gardner-Webb.