AKRON, Ohio — Ohio overcame its miscues and capitalized on Akron’s mistakes to win for the first time in three weeks.
The Bobcats (5-3, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) struggled to keep drives alive early in the contest against the Zips, but their defense held the home team to few scoring chances and escaped with a crucial road win.
“I think we showed some signs of coming out of (our slump),” coach Frank Solich said. “Three turnovers again today. That’s not what we’re after, but we were able to overcome that.”
Ohio opened with fast-paced play to keep the Zips on their heels. Running back Donte Harden and quarterback Tyler Tettleton combined for 28 yards on the ground before the drive stalled when Tettleton threw his fourth interception in three weeks. He had only one pick through his first five games this season.
The Bobcats held Akron to a single first down on its first drive and regained possession at the 21. Eleven plays and 72 yards later, Matt Weller booted home a 24-yard field goal to pass Kevin Kerr as Ohio’s top scoring kicker in program history. He is now third overall on the all-time scoring list.
Tremayne Scott forced a fumble on the Akron drive, and Nathan Carpenter recovered to give him five recorded turnovers on the year.
Ohio punted, and Akron began its longest drive of the game. Clayton Moore completed five passes to sustain a 72-yard drive that ended in an A.J. Fox field goal.
A botched handoff between Tettleton and Harden gave the Zips the ball again and led coach Frank Solich to bench Harden for Ohio’s next drive.
Beau Blankenship strung together three runs to generate a first down. Tettleton then connected with Brazill for a 78-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. Brazill had a step on his defender and hugged the sideline all the way to the end zone.
“I think it came at a good in the game,” Solich said. “Neither team had the game in control and both teams were fighting for a little bit of an advantage, but there was a lot of football to play.”
Three punts later, Ohio took possession near midfield. After completions to Riley Dunlop and Landon Smith, Tettleton gained 21 yards on the ground to get the ball inside Akron’s 10-yard line. Weller tacked on three points as the clock expired to give Ohio a 13-3 halftime lead.
After forcing a three-and-out and benefiting from a poor punt, Ohio needed only a play to extend the lead to 17 points. Tettleton found Dunlop in single coverage and placed the ball where his receiver could nab it.
Ohio forced another punt and then took almost six minutes off the clock on a 91-yard drive that ended in a field goal. Rushes by Harden and Blankenship with a couple Tettleton passes sustained the drive and tired the Zips’ defense.
The Bobcats’ next possession ended with their most costly mistake. Landon Smith could not handle a backward pass from Tettleton. Akron recovered and returned the ball to Ohio’s 5-yard line.
On fourth and goal, Moore found Keith Sconiers in the back of the end zone for the Zips’ first touchdown of the day.
Ohio ate up another five minutes at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and Tettleton scored on a 1-yard keeper.
Akron responded with a field goal, and Ohio answered that score with a touchdown run from Beau Blankenship.
Backup Akron quarterback Patrick Nicely found Marquelo Suel in the back of the end zone on fourth and goal, but the Zips could not recover the onside kick.
Ohio ran out the clock with rushes from Devin Favors and backup quarterback Kyle Snyder.
MAC East competitors Buffalo and Temple both lost Saturday, giving both teams two conference losses. Ohio faces Temple on Nov. 2 and Bowling Green two weeks after that.
“We’ve got to play one game at a time,” cornerback Travis Carrie said. “We can’t focus on other teams.”
But even with a focus driven by on-field performance and not scoreboard gazing, Solich noted that the other results benefit the Bobcats.
“I have no idea where that stands and how that all works, but obviously that helps us,” Solich said. “We’re going to have to win out in order to be in the game. We got four more to go in order to get that done and a huge one next week with Temple coming to our place.”
Tettleton finished with 328 yards through the air on 21-for-29 passing. Harden paced the rushing game with 123 yards on 22 carries.
The Bobcats outgained the Zips 556 yards to 249.