Maybe it was because of the rain, maybe it was because it was a Wednesday night, maybe it was because the Bobcats entered with a 4-5 record- but the crowd at the Buffalo-Ohio game was the smallest of the year. And that's a real shame, because the Ohio Bobcats football team put together its best performance of the year tonight, beating the University at Buffalo Bulls 37-14.
It was fitting that in the team's best performance of the year occurred on the same night as A.J. Ouellette's best game of the year. The true freshman(!) running back racked up 155 yards on 29 carries, punching the ball in the end zone a couple of times. The Buffalo defense spent most of the game chasing Ouellette and struggled to bring him to the ground. It was a testament to head coach Frank Solich's trust in Ouellette that he leaned so heavily on his freshman RB- Ohio only threw 19 passes for 156 yards. 18 of those passes came from Derrius Vick, who passed for 118 yards and ran for 43 more.
The Bobcats got off to a good start, driving 64 yards on their first possession and settling for a Josh Yazdani 33-yard field goal. Ohio punted on its next drive, but Buffalo return man Jacob Martinez lost his grip on the ball and the Bobcats recovered on the Bulls' 22 yard line. Four plays later, Ouellette ran it in for a 10-0 lead. By halftime, the lead had ballooned to 17-0, thanks again to Ouellette.
Exactly one year ago today, the Bulls routed the Bobcats 30-3 in Amherst. This time around, the Bobcats benefitted from a stronger defensive performance. Ohio held Buffalo to just one first down in the first half and kept Buffalo punter Tyler Grassman on the field all night, Of the Bulls' 12 drives: six ended in punts, two with fumbles, a pair of interceptions and a blocked field goal. They allowed only a touchdown, after the Bobcats had already assembled a 27-0 lead (the Bulls second touchdown was a fumble recovery and return). They allowed only 134 total yards- QB Joe Licata passed for only 74 yards and leading rusher Anthone Taylor had 37 yards on 17 carries.
Ian Wells was constantly causing trouble in the backfield, recording a sack and recovering a fumble. Toran Davis and Jovon Johnson each had an interception. Quentin Poling also recorded a sack and several tackles.
It truly was a team win for Ohio, as all sides- offense, defense, and special teams- each turned in a strong performance. If the Bobcats can continue this performance going forward, they can turn what once looked like a lost season into their sixth straight bowl appearance.