Only three teams have had winning seasons each of the last five seasons: Northern Illinois, Toledo and the Ohio Bobcats. The Green and White sealed off a winning season on Friday with a 51-23 win over Massachusetts.
Ohio came out hot against their 1-10 foes knowing it would be the difference between a winning season and merely going .500. It only took the 'Cats two plays on their first possession to find the end zone as Beau Blankenship busted up the middle for 50 yards putting Ohio up 7-0 early. Blankenship finished the game with 122 rushing yards making i only the second time he hit the century mark on the season.
Ohio would force a three and out on UMass' next possession and marched down the field adding to their lead as Tyler Tettleton hit Chase Cochran in the back left corner from two yards out to make it 14-0.
UMass added a field goal but before the end of the first quarter the Minutemen commenced their first comeback attempt. The Massachusett's defense forced Tettleton to put the ball on the turf right before the change in quarters and six plays later freshman running back Shadrach Abrokwah would get UMass six making it 14-0. Abrokwah was a bright spot for the Minutemen finishing with 110 yards and one touchdown.
UMass forced another stop on D and looked primed to take a stab at the lead, but with just over seven minutes to play in the half Massachusetts' quarterback A.J. Doyles pass was picked off by sixth-year senior cornerback Travis Carrie and taken 66 yards back for a score. The bad luck continued for the Minutemen as they muffed the ensuing kickoff which led to a Ryan Boykin six yard touchdown run. Josiah Yazdani would add a field goal before halftime giving Ohio a 31-10 lead at the break.
UMass started Act II of attempting to make a comeback at the start of the third quarter. Defensive lineman Kevin Byrne batted a Tettleton pass up in the air to himself to get UMass great field position. One play later, Doyle threw a strike to Tajae Sharpe who fought off two Bobcat defenders for a score. On the ensuing kickoff, it was Ohio's turn to make a mistake as return man Nathan Carpenter put the ball on the carpet allowing UMass to add a field goal making it 31-20.
Ohio regained control of the game later in the quarter when Tettleton marched the offense down the field finishing off the drive with a touchdown pass to Landon Smith to put the 'Cats back up 38-20. Tettleton finished the contest 18-of-27 for 243 yards and two scores.
Yazdani and UMass kicker Brendon Levengood traded field goals as the fourth quarter wound down and Ohio maintained the 21-point lead they held at half time. As UMass took one last stab at a comeback, Doyle would be picked off once again by Carrie, who once again took it home for six giving Ohio their first victory since October.
With the win, Ohio improved to 7-5 on the season and now will have to wait to see if a bowl bid is in their future. UMass finishes the season 1-11 and will not have to wait to see if a bowl bid is in their future.