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Bobcats and Broncos to Battle Saturday

Bobcats and Broncos to Battle Saturday

Oct. 3, 2006

Ohio Gameday Central

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ATHENS, Ohio - The Ohio football team will play its second straight home game when it hosts the Western Michigan Broncos on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 12 p.m. It is the first meeting between the two teams since 2003.

The Bobcats (2-3, 1-1 MAC) are coming off a 21-9 loss to Bowling Green last week. Senior tight end Rudy Sylvan (Suisan City, Calif.) caught his second touchdown pass of the season and recorded career bests with seven catches for 79 yards. The Ohio offense has already accounted for six touchdowns through the air, one more than it had all of last season. Sylvan and fellow tight end Thomas Christy (South Euclid, Ohio) have caught four of those TD passes, including one in each of the last four games.

Senior quarterback Austen Everson (Brentwood, Tenn.) is completing 59.7 percent of his throws (74-for-124) with 723 yards and a career-best five scores. Everson's has spread the ball around through five games. Six different players have caught at least 10 passes led by junior running back Kalvin McRae (Decatur, Ga.) and senior receiver Scott Mayle (Philippi, W.Va.). Both players have 15 receptions on the season. McRae has a team-high 159 yards, while Mayle is next at 158 yards. Senior William Norwood (Racine, Wis.) is averaging 13.2 yards per catch, tops on the team among players with at least five receptions. McRae is the team's leading rusher with 242 yards and three scores.

Defensively, senior linebacker Matt Muncy (Miamisburg, Ohio) has made 4.5 tackles for loss in the last two games. Muncy is now seventh on the Bobcats' career list with 29.5 tackles for loss. For the season, he ranks tied for second on the team with 35 total stops. Senior linebacker Tyler Russ (Stetsonville, Wis.) is the team's top tackler with 39 stops, including a team-high 11 against Bowling Green.

The Ohio defense is ranked in the top half of the Mid-American Conference in nearly every statistical category. The Bobcats are second in the league in both pass efficiency defense (98.3) and opponent first downs (79). Ohio is third in the MAC in scoring defense (20.4) and total defense (313.8), while it ranks fourth in pass defense (156.8). The Bobcats run defense is sixth in the league (157.0).

Western Michigan (3-1, 1-0 MAC) has won three straight games since losing its opener to Indiana on Sept. 2. The Broncos own home victories against Toledo and Temple, while winning on the road at Virginia. At 1-0, WMU is one of three teams still unbeaten in MAC play (Kent State, 3-0; Central Michigan, 2-0).

The Broncos were idle this past week. In their last game, they defeated Temple, 41-17. WMU posted 294 yards of offense while holding the Owls to only 149 yards, including just nine on the ground. Ryan Cubit completed 15-of-24 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns.

Western Michigan ranks 108th in the nation and 11th in the MAC in total offense, averaging 255.75 yards per game. However, the Broncos are the MAC's third-highest scoring team at 27.25 points per contest. While not posting huge chunks of yardage through the air, the Broncos have been efficient. They rank third in the league with a 130.58 rating and have thrown just two interceptions in 86 attempts. On the ground, the Broncos average 131.25 yards per game, fourth-best in the league. Cubit has played in two games this season and leads the team with 309 passing yards. He has completed 31-of-46 passes for two touchdowns and two interceptions. Thomas Peregrin has played in all four games, completing 27-of-39 passes for 189 yards and three scores. Mark Bonds is the Broncos' leading rusher, averaging an even 100.0 yards per game with five touchdowns.

Creating turnovers has been the calling card of the WMU defense through its first four games. The Broncos have forced 12 turnovers which is tied for 19th best in the nation. The squad's +2.0 turnover ratio is tops not only in the MAC, but also the nation. Western Michigan boasts the 18th-ranked defense in the nation, giving up 259.0 yards per game. The Broncos also rank third in the country with 4.0 sacks per game. Ameer Ismail is the team's leading tackler with 33 stops, including 4.5 sacks. Ten different players have registered at least part of a sack this season for WMU. The Broncos' nine interceptions is tied for fifth in the nation. Londen Fryar has a team-best three of those picks.

Western Michigan leads the all-time series, 29-27-1, and have won the last two meetings in the series. Saturday's game is the first meeting between Ohio and WMU since 2003. That game also took place at Peden Stadium. Before the Broncos' current streak, the Bobcats had reeled off three straight in the series.

Saturday's game is sponsored by Holzer Clinic. It is also Youth Day presented by AEP. Tickets are just $5 for all children ages 3-18. For more information, contact the athletics ticket office at 1-800-575-CATS.

The game will be televised as part of the MAC Game of the Week package. The contest will air live on FSN Ohio, Comcast Local (Michigan), Comcast Sports Net Chicago and Time Warner 13 (Buffalo).

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