In a backward game at Peden Stadium, the ’Cats beat the ’Dogs, the visiting quarterback threw nearly half of his completions to the wrong team, and in the end, Gardner got hosed.
Ohio used a momentous second quarter to pull away from Gardner-Webb in a 30-3 victory. The Bobcats showed defensive improvement from their last outing and kept the Runnin’ Bulldogs on the ground and leashed.
Offensively, Ohio struggled early before finding its stride. Ohio punted three times and fumbled in the red zone in the first quarter, when Paul Hershey’s mediocre punts easily outgained Ohio’s offense.
But the Bobcats’ defense kept the visitors in check. Running back Kenny Little was the sole bark in the Runnin’ Bulldogs’ arsenal. Sophomore quarterback Chandler Browning struggled when he put the ball in the air.
Browning’s shortfalls proved to be the sparks the Bobcats needed. His three interceptions led to three Ohio touchdowns in an 11-minute span.
Linebacker Nate Carpenter picked off a pass early in the second quarter. Five plays and two minutes later, quarterback Tyler Tettleton found LaVon Brazill for the touchdown.
With less than three minutes until halftime, Jelani Woseley intercepted a pass near the sideline and ran untouched into the end zone.
Gerald Moore recorded his seventh career interception less than two minutes later. He gave Ohio possession on the Gardner-Webb 40-yard line, and Tettleton needed only five plays to connect with Riley Dunlop for the score.
Browning finished the game 4-for-17 for 19 yards and three interceptions.
Matt Weller made three of his four field-goal attempts. His longest conversion came from 45 yards out and likely would have been good from 60.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs tried to live up to their mascot’s name, but running the ball often was just an alternative to throwing another errant pass. With a handful of runs for more than 5 yards and a handful of others for negative yardage, Gardner-Webb finished the day with a mere 86 yards on 42 rushing attempts.
“That first game, we really didn’t have much film on them,” said nose guard Neal Huynh, who led the Bobcats with nine tackles. “We really didn’t know what to expect, and all week we just practiced against everything.”
Ohio played without team captain Noah Keller, who has fought injuries of late and left last week’s game against New Mexico State early. Linebacker Eric Benjamin slid over to fill Keller’s role despite being injured himself.
Coach Frank Solich earned his 100th career victory with the effort.
“Frank Solich is a great coach, and he’s taken this program leaps and bounds,” Huynh said.
Solich credited his success with Ohio and Nebraska to the players and staff he has worked with. His first victory as a coach was a 56-27 whitewashing of Louisiana Tech in 1998.
“It was gratifying,” Solich said. “I enjoyed the fact that we’ve been able to make some strides here.”