Nov. 4, 2006
YPSILANTI, Mich. - Junior running back Kalvin McRae (Decatur, Ga.) ran for 132 yards in the second half and posted his fifth consecutive 100-yard game as the Ohio football team earned its fifth straight win, a 16-10 victory over Eastern Michigan Saturday at Rynearson Stadium.
"It was a tough day and we kept hurting ourselves, but we came back and played better in the second half," Head Coach Frank Solich said. "We didn't have many plays in the first half, but we stayed on the field in the second half and didn't give them many plays."
Ohio's (7-3, 5-1) five-game win streak is the longest since the 1997 Bobcats won six contests in a row. The win is Ohio's fourth road win of the season and third straight road win.
The Bobcat win, coupled with Kent State's loss to Buffalo, puts Ohio all alone in first place in the Mid-American Conference East Division standings. The two teams came in with equal 4-1 conference records but Ohio's win gives them sole possession of the East Division lead.
The Ohio offense finished with 324 total yards of offense, 278 of it coming on the ground. The Bobcats ran just 24 total plays in the first half and finished with 95 rushing yards. The second half was a different story, as Ohio ran for 183 yards and controlled the clock with more than 20 minutes of possession in the half.
McRae was a large reason for the offensive turnaround. After recording nine yards on just three carries in the first half, the junior running back rushed for 132 yards on 20 carries in the second half. He finished with 141 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown in the game. McRae's fifth consecutive 100-yard contest set a new school record. His third-quarter score was the 22nd rushing touchdown of his career, moving him into sole possession of fifth place on the Ohio all-time list. His 11 rushing scores for the season is tied for fifth on the Bobcats' single-season ledger. It is the most rushing scores by a Bobcat since Kareem Wilson had 13 and Steveland Hookfin registered 11 in 1998. McRae now has 2,535 career rushing yards, moving him into sixth place on Ohio's all-time rushing list.
The Bobcat passing game was not used much Saturday as quarterback Austen Everson (Brentwood, Tenn.) was 7-of-12 for 46 yards without a touchdown or an interception. McRae led all Bobcats with four catches for 17 yards.
The Ohio defense limited Eastern Michigan to 270 total yards of offense. Senior Matt Muncy (Miamisburg, Ohio) led the way with 10 tackles, including two for a loss. Steven Jackson (Austin, Texas) and T.J. Wright (Beaumont, Texas) each finished with eight total tackles while Michael Graham (Cincinnati, Ohio) recorded the team's only sack.
After the teams traded punts on their first two possessions, the Eagles took a 3-0 lead on an Andrew Wellock 34-yard field goal with 3:07 left in the first quarter. The EMU field goal marked the first time that the Bobcats had trailed in a game since a 3-0 deficit at Illinois, a span of 172:59.
Senior Scott Mayle (Philippi W.Va.) put the Bobcats in good field position on the ensuing kickoff with a season-best 46-yard return. Ohio drove to the Eastern Michigan 17-yard line, but could not convert on a third-and-six. Senior Matt Lasher (Copley, Ohio) tied the score at 3-3 with eight seconds remaining in the quarter when he converted on a 34-yard field goal attempt.
The Bobcat defense forced a three-and-out, and Ohio took over at the EMU 41-yard line following the punt. On the first play of the drive, Mayle took a handoff from freshman Chris Garrett (Bristow, Va.) on a reverse, followed a block from tackle Matt Coppage (Walton, Ky.) and streaked 41 yards down the sideline for his first touchdown of the season. Lasher's extra point was unsuccessful but the Bobcats held a 9-3 lead early in the second quarter. Mayle's touchdown run was the second of his career and first since the 2003 season. It was the 29th play from scrimmage in his career to cover at least 20 yards. The run also moved Mayle into sixth place on the Ohio all-purpose yardage list with 3,183, surpassing Raynald Ray's total of 3,165.
The Eagles took little time in reclaiming the lead. On third-and-goal from the one-yard line, quarterback Tyler Jones fielded a low shotgun snap and ran over left guard for the score. Wellock's extra point gave the Eagles a 10-9 advantage with 7:44 left in the second quarter. The key play of the 11-play, 83-yard drive was a 41-yard pass from Jones to Eric Deslauriers.
The Bobcats threatened on their final drive of the first half, but the drive stalled at the Eastern Michigan 28-yard line. A holding penalty backed it up to the 38-yard line, and following a three-yard completion to tight end Rudy Sylvan (Suisan City, Calif.) Everson was sacked to end the half. The Bobcats 10-9 halftime deficit marked the first time Ohio trailed at intermission since the Bowling Green contest (14-3).
Ohio took the ball to start the second half and drove to the Eastern Michigan 16-yard line using nine runs in 10 plays. On fourth-and-one, fullback Mitch Morsillo (Moon, Pa.) was stopped for no gain to give the Eagles possession. The play stopped Morsillo's streak of five straight successful third or fourth-down conversion attempts.
Three plays later, the Bobcat defense forced its first turnover since the Buffalo game when Michael Mitchell (Ft. Thomas, Ky.) intercepted Jones' pass and returned the ball to the Eastern Michigan 22-yard line. It was Mitchell's first career interception. The Bobcats were able to capitalize on the miscue. McRae scored his 11th rushing touchdown of the season, covering 11 yards to put the Bobcats back on top. Lasher's extra point gave Ohio a 16-10 advantage with 5:46 remaining in the third quarter. The Ohio defense did the rest, holding the Eagles scoreless the rest of the way for the Bobcat victory.
Ohio will enjoy an off-week next weekend before its final home game of the season on Thursday, Nov. 16 against Akron. A win would clinch the MAC East Division title for the Bobcats.