By Pete Nakos
OhioBobcat.com Feature Writer
ATHENS, Ohio— Behind a stifling defense, which saw the Rockets total just 316 yards, the Ohio football team knocked off Mid-American Conference West Division leader Toledo, 38-10, on Wednesday's senior night (Nov. 8) at Peden Stadium.
The Ohio defense held Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside to just 263 yards and one touchdown, while the Rockets running game struggled with just 53 yards.
Redshirt senior linebacker Quentin Poling finished the game with 12 tackles and three tackles for loss, setting the program career record with 44.0 tackles for loss. His teammate, redshirt senior linebacker Chad Moore finished with six tackles. Redshirt senior cornerback Bradd Ellis contributed four tackles, two breakups and a forced fumble.
"No question, you let their running game get going they're going to have a throwing game and they're going to complete passes," head coach Frank Solich said. "The thing you hoped you could do is not allow the explosive passed to become a problem for you. And not having explosive passes, have them run the ball and not let them eat up the clock a little bit in running the ball, but not let them establish a running game that was going to be hurtful to you as the game went on. We wanted long drives, we wanted to force them to have long drives and for the most part I think that worked out fairly well."
The Bobcats improved to 8-2 on the season and 5-1 in MAC play. It's just the second time under Solich that Ohio has reached the 8-2 mark.
The loss marked the first in conference play for Toledo, dropping the Rockets to 8-2 on the season and 5-1 in the MAC.
Despite three turnovers in the first half, the Ohio offense outscored the Rockets 28-3 in the second half. Ohio totaled 532 offensive yards, led by sophomore quarterback Nathan Rourke's 139 passing yards and two total touchdowns. He finished the game rushing for 115 yards, breaking 100-yards rushing for the third time this season, and was 7 of 15 passing.
Redshirt senior Dorian Brown rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns to lead Ohio. His first touchdown came on a 62-yard run, the longest of his career. Redshirt junior wide receiver Papi White finished with three receptions for 91 yards to lead Ohio's receiving corps.
"Coach Solich reminds us every week that we control our destiny," Brown said. "We worry about one game at a time. Coach Albin tells us that if we win the game tonight, it doesn't mean that we are going to the MAC Championships. We have to keep winning games one game at a time."
Redshirt junior running back A.J. Ouellette started the scoring for Ohio with a six-yard touchdown run with 2:15 to play in the first quarter. On the six play, 49-yard drive, Ouellette accounted for 27 of the yards on the ground.
Toledo responded late in the second quarter when it scored its only touchdown of the night when quarterback Logan Woodside threw a 34-yard pass to wide receiver Diontae Johnson.
The Bobcats were able to regain the lead headed into halftime when Ellis forced a fumble and redshirt sophomore safety Javon Hagan recovered the ball, returning it to the Ohio 36-yard line. Redshirt junior kicker Louie Zervos hit a 44-yard field goal with four seconds left in the half, putting Ohio up 10-7.
In the second half, Ohio outscored the Rockets 28-3.
On the opening drive of the second half, Rourke led the Bobcats 73 yards down the field on nine plays, as he rushed for 37 of the yards including an eight-yard touchdown run to stretch the lead to 17-7.
Ohio forced a three and out, then on the second play of the drive, Dorian Brown raced 62 yards down the sideline for a score, putting the Bobcats up 24-7. Near the end of the third quarter, Toledo kicked a 38-yard field goal, the last three points they would score Wednesday night.
In the fourth quarter, Rourke found redshirt senior wide receiver Brendan Cope in the middle of the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown reception. The drive, which lasted 6:43, saw 12 plays called, nine of which were runs.
The Bobcats scored the last time with less then nine minutes to go when Brown ran the ball in from a yard out, putting Ohio on top for good 38-10.
"Again, we've got a goal to win the MAC Championship but certainly everyone still in the running has that same goal going," Solich said. "So, we're not going to be satisfied until we end playing against our best football against everyone from here on out. That's what this team is all about, we don't want to leave any stone unturned, we want to prepare great and try to finish this season off at a high level. We've done some decent things but hey, if we don't end it by playing well then some of that gets tarnished a little bit and that's not what this group's after."
Ohio honored 20 seniors Wednesday night, as the class graduates with four straight years of bowl eligibility and a MAC East Championship.
The last time that the Bobcats beat Toledo in back-to-back years was 1967-68 and they went on to win the MAC Championship.
Ohio returns to play next week against Akron at InfoCision Stadium–Summa Field. Kickoff is 7 p.m. ET. Broadcast information is TBA.