If ever a game could serve as a microcosm of a season as a whole it was the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl. Just like the Ohio Bobcats' 2013 season the game started off horribly before showing real signs of promise and hopes of glory, ultimately crashing in a giant ball of flames. A fitting end to a season and game full of so many highs and lows.
Ohio's senior-laden team entered the 2013 season with high-hopes, but after the clock hit zero on the scoreboard of Tropicana Field Monday evening all that was left was a legacy muddled in a confusing mix of successes and letdowns. The greatest senior class in Ohio Football history chocked in the end, and it was ugly. ECU put up 568 yards of total offense, and scored three touchdowns in the final 10 minutes to take home the 38-17 win.
Similar to the end, the beginning of the game was less than attractive for Bobcats fans. On the Pirates' second drive of the game quarterback Shane Carden orchestrated a masterful short-pass drive resulting in a five-yard touchdown pass. At the end of the first Ohio had given up nearly 200 yards of offense, and a pair of touchdowns.
But just as the season went, so too did this game. After finding themselves in an ugly hole early, the scrappy 'Cats fought back. Tyler Tettleton started looking like the Tettleton of old, and the offense opened up thanks to the use of Daz' Patterson in the play action. Five minutes into the second quarter we had ourselves a tie ball game.
From there on it was an all out fight. Not picked to win by anyone, the senior class that accomplished so much in seasons prior, refused to go down. Tettleton and the offense clawed their way into the game. The defense, led by Travis Carrie, who locked down ECU stud receiver Justin Hardy, was stopping the Pirates vaunted offense. Sure, they were settling for field goals, but the Bobcats were in charge of the game. Early in the third quarter Ohio tied the game up at 17 all. Then after smothering ECU by forcing a fumble and blocking a field goal, the Green and White took a 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter and it seemed like the team was well on its way to a third straight bowl victory.
Just like the 'Cats' season, it all went downhill from there. It started with that lead-changing field goal. They kicked an onside kick after the score, recovering it and taking over at mid-field. A few plays later the Ohio drive stalled at the ECU 28. No big deal, Frank Solich just turned to kicker Josiah Yazdani, his perfect kicker who had yet to miss a single kick on the season, including two earlier in the game. Then he missed.
That field goal, which went slightly left, shot the Bobcats off course. On the very next drive Vintavious Cooper scampered into the end zone on a 31-yard scamper, his first of two on the night, to give ECU a 24-20 lead. He finished the game with 198 yards, a career high, on 25 carries.
Ohio's confidence vanished. The 'Cats defense looked flustered, and got caught up in some trickeration on the next ECU drive. Pirates' quarterback Shane Carden hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass, tacking on to his 273 yards and score throwing the ball. Two Tettleton picks and a 22-yard touchdown run by Cooper later and it was all over.
Ohio's two-game bowl streak, snapped. It's greatest senior class, defeated. All in a brief 10-minute span.
The great Ohio senior quarterback looked good at times throughout the game, but also did some things that have come to drive 'Cats fans insane. Like in the fourth when he scrambled out to his right, hanging onto the ball, and dipping out of bounds for a massive loss. He looked sporadic, completing just 52 percent of his passes and throwing three picks to one touchdown.
Ohio's stellar senior running back Beau Blankenship finished with just 66 yards on 21 carries, and no touchdowns. The team finished with its worst season since 2008, before the senior class stepped foot on the field. And a legacy built on accomplishing several firsts, ended in a a broken pile of dreams, back where it all began.
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