No. 15 Tennessee has been tested by a myriad of opponents this year. The Ohio Bobcats, coming off a road win over another Power 5 program, served as this week's challenger.
Despite trailing the entire game, the Bobcats kept Tennessee in-check Saturday afternoon, falling 28-19 in Knoxville.
Ohio (1-2) never allowed Tennessee (3-0) to create a double-digit deficit in the contest, and kept the score within two for a portion of the afternoon. The Volunteers slid past the upset-minded Bobcats on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Josh Malone.
Malone snagged the ball between two Bobcats defenders to push Tennessee ahead by nine, 28-19, with 11:07 remaining in the fourth quarter. In what was primarily a defensive matchup, no points were registered for the remainder of the game.
Tennessee fired out of the gate at Neyland Stadium with another Josh Malone 20-yard touchdown in the first minute. Ohio's offense, led by Greg Windham, responded by driving down the field and capitalizing off a tipped interception to score two field goals. But the inability to find the end zone until the late third quarter impeded the Bobcats' chances of completing the road upset.
Windham passed for 230 yards and a touchdown, completing 50 percent of his throws. In a lackluster offensive performance, passing was the focal point, with the Bobcats only obtaining 88 yards on the ground. The offense failed to execute 14 times on third down, leading to seven punts. However, Ohio committed zero turnovers and played resilient defense to pressure Tennessee throughout.
Louie Zervos was easily the best performer for the Bobcats, going 4-of-4 on field goals in the game and accounting for 12 of Ohio's 19 points in the game.
Tennessee punted six times and fumbled on four occasions. Recovering all four fumbles was monumental for the Volunteers, preventing Ohio from capitalizing off of additional turnovers.
With the loss, Frank Solich falls to 0-3 versus the SEC.
Solich and the Bobcats (1-2) resume their season against FCS foe Gardner-Webb next Saturday.