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Football: Bobcats build lead, hold off Aggies to win opener


Ohio outplayed its inexperience long enough to outlast New Mexico State in the season opener.

The Bobcats overcame early mistakes to build a hefty lead against the Aggies. Ohio’s defensive inexperience was evident at times in the second half, but New Mexico State never caught up.

Tyler Tettleton settled in after throwing an opening-drive interception and paced a balanced offense in the Bobcats’ 44-24 victory over the Aggies. Donte Harden and Beau Blankenship led the rushing attack, and LaVon Brazill established himself as Tettleton’s favorite target.

The Bobcats’ defense showed confidence in its first series of the night.  New Mexico State tried some trickery from the outset by running a reverse on the first play from scrimmage. Linebacker Alphonso Lewis read the play perfectly and tackled Taveon Rodgers for a 10-yard loss. Two plays later, team captain Noah Keller drilled Robert Clay after a short reception to force a punt.

Ohio relied on its ground game on its first drive, with Tettleton, Harden and Blankenship getting carries. Tettleton completed two of his first three passing attempts but threw his fourth into double coverage, leading to an interception.

The Bobcats again shut down the Aggies on defense and renewed the ground attack.  Blankenship capped the 69-yard drive with a 1-yard run to give Ohio a 7-0 lead.

But the team’s second mistake of the game came in the defensive secondary.  New Mexico State quarterback Andrew Manley found Rodgers wide open for a 42 yard touchdown pass.

Ohio got a lucky break to retake the lead in the second quarter. With the Aggies on their own 13 yard line, the snap flew over Manley’s head and through the endzone for a safety.

Later in the period, Tettleton connected with Brazill for a 44-yard completion. Three plays later, Tettleton scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper.

Cornerback Xavier Hughes intercepted a pass on New Mexico State’s ensuing drive to give Ohio possession at the Aggies’ 30 yard line. Tettleton soon found redshirt senior wideout Riley Dunlop for his first career passing touchdown to extend the lead to 23-7.

After the half, veteran quarterback Phil Bates entered the game and immediately found Mario Dovell for a 58-yard completion. From the wildcat formation, Bates picked up two more yards before Tettleton connected with Donte Foster for his second six-point pass of the game.

The Aggies tacked on a field goal to cut the lead to 20, but Ohio’s defense largely held the home team in check. Tettleton added his second rushing touchdown to expand the lead further. Travis Carrie returned the Aggies’ ensuing punt 65 yards for a touchdown, but Rodgers responded with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

New Mexico State found its way back into the game through Ohio’s young secondary. Manley threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to Todd Lee to cut the lead to 20 points. Four Aggies caught passes of more than 30 yards in the game.

The Bobcats kept the Aggies out of the end zone for the rest of the game. Ryan Boykin gained yards on the ground to take precious time off the clock.

Manley finished with 362 yards on 22-for-41 passing. Tettleton had 16 completions on 28 attempts for 153 yards.

Harden led all rushers with 81 yards on 15 carries.






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