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Have You Herd? Ohio Takes the Battle for the Bell.

The Bobcats hosted a Thundering Herd squad coming off two consecutive victories, having outscored their opponents 107-14 in those two matchups. Ohio came away with a victory in a tense down to the wire finish.

Rob Carr

Back and forth they went for The Bell. The Thundering Herd and the Bobcats fought hard, with the home team ultimately prevailing in a purely offensive contest. It was a matter of mistakes that spelt out doom for the visiting Marshall squad.

Coach Frank Solich saw plenty of positive in the victory.

"I thought we did what we had to do to win it. We had every unit contribute to the win. On offense, in the second half particularly, we came alive and controlled the football."

Rakeem Cato of Marshall was not stopped, he was only contained by the Bobcats defense. 30-45 passing for 366 yards might not be what most teams are looking for from their defense, but on this night the 'Cats were willing to concede some yards to force some timely turnovers.

Turnovers were a big problem all night for Marshall, just as they have been for the Thundering Herd for the last several years in this rivalry.

Ohio forced Marshall to fumble twice, one coming on the Herd's first drive when Xavier Hughes ripped the ball out of Essray Taliaferro's grip and Brandon Purdum ended up with the ball. On Marshall's next drive, Steward Butler (who came into the game averaging 9.9 yards per carry) coughed up the rock on a bone-rattling hit by Nathan Carpenter, with Watson Tautuiaki falling on this one.

A bizarre play took place in the second in which Steward Butler of Marshall botched a kickoff and booted the ball away, with Toran Davis coming up with the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

Solich spoke towards the importance of the turnovers in the Bobcats' victory. "All turnovers are important especially when you win (the turnover battle) 4-0. We felt that was part of what we needed to do to win. We have a little bit of history taking care of the ball against them. And that was in the gameplan."

Ohio drew first blood on a four-yard Troy Hill reception that wrapped up a nine-play 53-yard drive. Hill before the night had no receptions, but finished that drive with three receptions for forty yards.

Marshall responded right after that, just as they would much of the night. In the second half, the following scoring sequences took place in the third and fourth quarter:

  • Ohio: Nine-play, 79-yard scoring drive in which Tyler Tettleton went 6-6 passing for 78 yards.
  • Marshall: 15-play, 68-yard drive. Cato threw for 58 yards while picking apart the Bobcat defense.
  • Ohio: 18 plays, 75-yard scoring drive that lasted 8:18 with passes complete to Matt Waters, Daz Patterson, Donte Foster, Chase Cochran, Anthony Talbert, and Beau Blankenship.
  • Marshall: 5-play, 75-yard scoring drive in which Cato found open receivers at will.
After that, the defenses decided to tighten up and make it things a bit less pass-happy.

With 7:12 left in the game and Cato looking to lead the Thundering Herd on a rampage down the field again, he threw off target and the ball found its way into the hands of Devin Bass who had an outstanding night for Ohio.  Bass picked up eleven tackles, had half a tackle for loss, and played outstanding coverage on several deep balls down the sideline.

Bass spoke humbly of his performance.

"The defense... we did everything we could to give the offense a chance to score...I’m just lucky enough to be in the right position to make that play and make the best play that I can. "

The Bobcats got a field goal out of that before allowing another quick Marshall touchdown drive. The onside kick skipped innocently out of bounds and after then kneel down, Ohio came away with a 34-31 rivalry game victory.

The Bobcats rushing attack did little to impress anyone. Derrius Vick was the leading rusher after picking up 31 on the ground in one drive. Blankenship and Boykin combined for only 59 yards on 27 carries. Beau would however, pick up his 20th career rushing touchdown.

Tettleton went 25-38 passing for 266 yards. He was even more impressive in the second half, going 19-23 for 191 yards through the air.

Tettleton spoke afterwards of his team's performance, noting about his receivers: "I have a lot of faith and trust in those guys." He trusted his receivers a great deal as he spread the ball out between most of the receivers that played on the evening.

Peden Stadium hosted the third most fans of any game in its history with 24,836 seeing the squads take part in yet another epic Battle for the Bell.