Oct. 28, 2006
KENT, Ohio - On a cold, rainy and windy day that saw a 40-minute lightning delay, the Ohio football team earned a 17-7 victory over Kent State Saturday at Dix Stadium to move into a tie for the Mid-American Conference East Division lead.
"I'm real proud of the way the kids responded," Head Coach Frank Solich said. "We're starting to be a pretty good road team and that's critical if you're going to have success when you play on the road as much as we do."
Ohio (6-3, 4-1) has won four straight games for the first time since the 1997 season. The 6-3 start for the Bobcats is the best start to a season since the 1997 Ohio squad went 8-1 out of the gates. Kent State (5-3, 4-1) had its five-game win streak snapped and fell into a tie for the MAC East lead with the Bobcats. If the two teams finish in a tie for the conference lead Ohio would hold the tiebreaker with the head-to-head victory.
The Bobcat offense finished with 261 yards paced by junior running back Kalvin McRae (Decatur, Ga.). McRae finished the game with 103 yards on 26 carries and one touchdown and recorded his fourth consecutive 100-yard game. His rushing touchdown was the 10th of the season, a total that places McRae in a tie for 10th-place for the most rushing touchdowns in a single season by a Bobcat. The touchdown was the 21st rushing touchdown of McRae's career, good for a fifth-place tie in Ohio history. McRae moved into sole possession of fourth place in 100-yard games with his 11th such performance and now has 2,394 career rushing yards, good for seventh place in Ohio career history.
Senior quarterback Austen Everson (Brentwood, Tenn.) was unable to get much done through the air because of the weather, but made several big plays with his legs. Everson recorded 57 yards on the ground on 10 carries and finished 7-of-15 for 52 yards with one interception through the air. McRae led the Bobcats with two receptions for 23 yards.
The Ohio defense was big all day as the Bobcats limited Kent State to 258 total yards of offense. The Golden Flashes came into the contest fourth in the MAC with an average of 362.7 yards of offense per game. In the win, senior T.J. Wright (Beaumont, Texas) recorded his 35th career pass breakup to move him into first place all-time in Bobcat history. Senior Michael Graham (Cincinnati, Ohio) led the Bobcats with nine tackles, one for a loss, and also recorded 0.5 sacks and two passes broken up. Freshman Ernie Hodge (Dublin, Va.) had a huge day for the Ohio defense as he finished with eight tackles, four for a loss, and 1.5 sacks in the contest. Junior Landon Cohen (Spartanburg, S.C.) was also in the Kent State backfield all day as he tallied 3.5 tackles for a loss and six total tackles.
Golden Flash quarterback Julian Edelman was just 7-for-20 for 79 yards and one touchdown but, like Everson, made an impact on the ground. Edelman led Kent State with 121 rushing yards on 24 carries.
The Bobcats were the first on the board as they took advantage of excellent field position following a shanked punt by Golden Flash punter Jake Kilroy from his18-yard-line. On the first play of the drive, senior Voncarie Owens (Taylorsville, Miss.) found the endzone from 18 yards out for his second touchdown run of the season. Senior Matt Lasher (Copley, Ohio) hit the point-after for a 7-0, first quarter lead for Ohio.
The Bobcats took advantage of good field position again in the second quarter thanks to another punting mishap by Kent State that gave Ohio the ball at the Golden Flash 17-yard-line. McRae found the endzone from three yards out on the third play of the drive to give the Bobcats a two-score lead. Senior Scott Mayle (Philippi, W.Va.) made a diving reception of 11 yards on the first play of the drive to set up the score by McRae. Lasher's kick was true again for a 14-0 Bobcat advantage.
The Golden Flashes answered the Bobcat score on the following drive behind the legs and arm of Edelman. The Kent State quarterback had rushes of 13 and 24 yards before hooking up with Tom Sitko for an eight-yard touchdown pass. Eugene Jarvis ran for a total of 20 yards on the drive as the Golden Flashes cut the lead to 14-7.
Ohio was able to extend the lead late in the second quarter on a 30-yard field goal by Lasher. Everson ran for 26 yards on the drive to set up the field goal. The Bobcats were forced to settle for the field goal after a rushing touchdown by McRae was called back due to a holding penalty. Lasher nailed the field goal to give the Bobcats a 17-7 lead at the half.
After each team punted once to open the second half, the game was suspended due to lightning in the area. The delay lasted a total of 40 minutes before play resumed. With neither team able to score in the third quarter, the Bobcats carried their 10-point lead into the fourth quarter. Kent State had a chance to reduce the lead to 10 points early in the fourth quarter but a Reid Macko 35-yard field goal attempt was wide left.
On the ensuing Ohio drive, the Bobcats grinded out much of the clock with a 10-play drive that ate up 5:14 of the clock. The Bobcats lined up for a field goal attempt to cap off the drive, but instead opted for a fake. Everson rolled out on the attempt but his pass was incomplete. Following the fake field goal attempt, Kent State drove deep into Ohio territory and looked to make it a one-score game. With the Golden Flashes facing a 3rd-and-15 and on the edge of field goal range, freshman Ernie Hodge (Dublin, Va.) sacked Edelman for a six-yard loss. The Bobcats held on the fourth-and-long attempt to earn a 17-7 win over Kent State.
Ohio stays on the road next weekend when the Bobcats travel to Eastern Michigan. Game time is set for 1:00 p.m. from Ypsilanti, Mich.