The final non-conference game for Ohio resulted in a 37-21 win for the Bobcats, but the training room continue to grow more crowded.
Entering the game without their top three running backs, Windham was joined by Papi White (fourth string) and freshman Vinny Emanuele (fifth string) in the backfield.
White left the game in the first half with a seemingly minor injury and would not return putting the load on Emanuele.
On Emanuelle’s sixth carry of the game, he was struck helmet-to-helmet by a Bulldog defender, forcing the officials to remove yet another Ohio back due to concussion protocol.
Enter Bo Hardy. Hardy, who was awarded a scholarship at the end of this year’s camp, made his first career start at safety with Kylan Nelson out. Ohio head coach Frank Solich had Hardy taking reps at running back this week in practice in case of emergency, a move he must be pleased with.
Not only did Hardy play both sides of the ball, he also emerged as Ohio’s leading rusher on the day with 65 yards and a touchdown.
Sebastian Smith made things easy on quarterback Greg Windham and the Ohio offense with six catches on his way to his second consecutive 100+ yard game. The passing game for the ‘Cats went over 300 yards yet again making things easy on the ravaged Ohio backfield.
Windham and Smith got it started early with a 17-yard hook up in the corner of the endzone to put Ohio up just under five minutes into the game, and the ‘Cats would never trail after that point.
The ensuing 75-yard drive from Gardner-Webb tied the game at seven, before Ohio scored 23 straight to put the game in hand and cruise to the finish.
Ohio’s defense continued to struggle against the mid to deep passing game, but was strong on third down, allowing conversions less than 50 percent of the time. The same players continued to shine with Quentin Poling’s six tackles and a forced fumble by Tarell Basham.
With both Irons and Brown expected to be available next week against Miami, Ohio’s offense will have the weapons they need to go for consecutive wins for the first time of 2016.
Kickoff from Oxford will be at 2:30 p.m.