Oct. 30, 2006
ATHENS, Ohio - The Ohio football team (6-3, 4-1) will try for its fifth straight victory when it travels to Eastern Michigan (1-7, 1-4) on Saturday, Nov. 4. Kickoff at Rynearson Stadium is scheduled for 1 p.m.
The Bobcats' current four-game streak is their longest since the 1997 team won six in a row. The victory against Kent State gave Ohio control of its own fate in the race for the MAC East Division championship. Both the Bobcats and Golden Flashes boast 4-1 conference records, but Ohio would own the tiebreaker with their head-to-head win. Neither team has won a division title since the format began in 1997. Bowling Green sits one game back at 3-2.
One of the keys to Ohio's turnaround has been its ability to win on the road. The Bobcats have won three of their five road games this season. Ohio has won back-to-back road games for the first time since 1997. The Bobcats' three road victories are the most since the 2000 squad won three times away from Peden Stadium. Ohio has not won four road games since 1997.
The Bobcats' running game has come to life during their current four-game winning streak. Ohio has run for 813 yards (203.3/game), including three games over 200 yards on the ground. The Bobcats have scored 10 rushing touchdowns in the last four games. Ohio has run for at least two touchdowns in all six of its wins this season. Kalvin McRae (Decatur, Ga.) has four consecutive 100-yard games.
Ohio's defense limited Kent State to 258 yards of offense. The Bobcats had a season-high 14 tackles for loss, including a season-best four sacks. Freshman defensive end Ernie Hodge (Dublin, Va.) had a career game with eight tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, including 1.5 sacks. Sophomore defensive end Jameson Hartke (Centerville, Va.) tied his career high with 2.0 sacks. The Bobcats have recorded 11 of their 14 sacks this season during the four-game winning streak.
The Bobcats' pass defense has been one of the nation's stingiest this season. Ohio ranks 12th in the country in pass efficency defense (101.7) and 14th in passing defense (158.22 yds/game). The play against the pass has resulted in the nation's 41st-ranked total defense (304.56) and the 26th-ranked scoring defense in the country (17.0).
The Eagles are coming off an 18-15 loss at Western Michigan. EMU Led 15-3 with 13:09 left in the game, but the Broncos reeled off 15 unanswered points in the final 10:22 to take the victory. The Eagles threw for 220 yards and a touchdown in the contest. Andy Schmitt went 15-for-26 for 159 yards, while Tyler Jones was 7-for-12 for 61 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The Western Michigan defense was able to record five sacks in the contest. Schmitt was Eastern Michigan's top rusher as well with 43 yards on 10 carries. Trumaine Riley led the receiving corps with nine catches, while Eric Deslauriers had six receptions for 85 yards and a score. Andrew Wellock was 3-for-3 on field-goal tries, including a 45-yarder. Michael Richardson led the defense with 12 tackles. Four of the Eagles' last five losses have been by a touchdown or less with three games decided by four points or less.
Offensively, Eastern Michigan is averaging 112.2 yards on the ground and 184.8 yards per contest through the air. Schmitt is the squad's leading passer and runner. He has completed 62.6 percent of his throws (97-for-155) for 858 yards and two scores. In the running game, Schmitt has run a team-high 83 times for 332 yards and three scores. Jones has completed 54-of-93 passes for 565 yards and a team-best four touchdowns. Freshman Dontayo Gage has also been a dual threat. He has completed four of his eight passing attempts for 55 yards and a touchdown, while also catching 27 passes for 166 yards. Pierre Walker is the squad's second-leading rusher with 214 yards and a pair of scores, while Jones is third at 210 yards and a touchdown. Eric Deslauriers is the team's top receiver wtih 54 catches for 662 yards and five scores. He ranks 10th in the country with 6.75 catches per game and 15th in the nation with 82.75 receiving yards per game.
On defense, the Eagles allow an average of 380.5 yards and 27.0 points per game. Michael Richardson leads the team with 74 tackles with Daniel Holtzclaw right behind at 73 stops. Jason Jones has recorded a team-high 14.0 tackles for loss. Jones ranks fourth in the nation with 2.0 tackles for loss per game. He also leads the Eagles with four sacks. Jacob Wyatt has recorded two of the Eagles' three interceptions on the season.
Special teams has been a strength for the Eagles in 2006. The team ranks seventh in the nation in net punting at 39.22 yards. EMU is eighth in the nation, allowing only 2.88 yards per punt return. Andrew Wellock has hit 13-of-16 field goals, including all six of his tries between 40-49 yards.
Ohio leads the all-time series with the Eagles, 13-11-1. The first meeting between the two schools was in 1976, the Bobcats' shortest rivalry with any MAC school. Saturday's game is the first between Eastern Michigan and Ohio since the 2002 season. Since the current divisional format went into effect in 1997, the two teams have played four times. The Bobcats are 6-7 all-time on the road against Eastern Michigan. The two teams have split the last 10 meetings, 5-5.
The game at Eastern Michigan will mark the 10th consecutive week in which the Bobcats have played. Ohio will get its first bye week following the contest. The Bobcats return to action on Thursday, Nov. 16 in their final home game of the season. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. For tickets, call the Ohio Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-575-CATS.