From offensive production to defensive suppression, Ohio made the most of its game plan in a 44-7 walloping of Marshall on Saturday.
In fact, the only thing coach Frank Solich had not planned out was how to summarize his team’s dominant performance.
“I’m not sure what to say,” he said. “I certainly did not expect that type of game.”
Just about everything the Bobcats tried against the Thundering Herd in the Battle of the Bell worked.
They walked onto the field locked arm-in-arm in their brand-new black jerseys with no names on the back. They ran off the field ringing the prized bell for the first time since 2000.
“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a little bit of revenge factor coming into play,” redshirt senior linebacker Noah Keller said. “I really wanted to win this one quite handily.”
With the win, the Bobcats improved to 3-0, their best start since 1976.
Ohio scored on six of its first eight drives to open an early, impenetrable lead against Marshall. Tyler Tettleton had success throwing the ball from sideline to sideline and accounted for four touchdowns for the second straight week.
The Bobcats forced six turnovers — all in the first half — to keep Marshall’s defense on the gridiron. The Herd could not keep pace with Ohio’s shifty backs, quick play-calling and speedy receivers. Ohio controlled the football for more than 36 minutes.
“This week, we really wanted to up the pace, and by doing that it was going to keep them on their heels even more,” Tettleton said.
The tired Herd defense did not pursue the ball carrier well. Donte Harden bounced off would-be tacklers in the first half, and Ohio receivers found running room after the catch to stretch short completions into double-digit gains.
Ohio notched 30 first downs in a game for the first time since 2001.
Tettleton’s favorite route of the day was the bubble screen. Time and time again, the quarterback rolled to his right and found a wide-open receiver.
“We ran that play about 10 or 15 times the whole game,” he said. “It was an easy read for me.”
Tettleton finished with a career-high 285 yards on 20-for-29 passing. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for another.
Ryan Boykin replaced Harden, who left with a recurring injury, and ran for 130 yards on 25 carries.
Like Tettleton, Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato started his third career game Saturday. Unlike Tettleton, Cato showed his youth.
The freshman signal caller threw four first-half interceptions and completed only nine of his 21 passing attempts.
“Coming into this we knew he had a strong arm … but once again he is a freshman,” Keller said.
Marshall and Ohio each lost two fumbles during the game. The Herd did not score on the Bobcats’ turnovers, but Ohio converted Marshall’s mistakes into 24 points.
Not only did kicker Matt Weller’s 14 points double Marshall’s production, but he also tied a program record with his three field goals.
Weller notched his 38th career field goal on a 34-yard kick in the third quarter. Only Kevin Kerr has as many field goals in Bobcat history.
Weller also reached the 200-point plateau in his college career. Only three players, including Kerr, have scored more points for Ohio.
He also made kicks from 20 and 21 yards in the game.
Second Quarter Success
The Bobcats have scored more than half their points in the second quarter this season.
Ohio has scored 64 of its 118 points during the 15 minutes before halftime. That includes 24 points each against Marshall and Gardner-Webb. The Bobcats’ opponents have scored 34 points all season.
“Maybe we did wear (Marshall) down a little bit as the first half went on,” Solich said. “That kept their defense on the field.”