The Ohio Bobcats found a new favorite weapon in their 35-14 win over the Southeastern Louisiana Lions Saturday. The Bobcats offense stepped up to help the team improve to 3-0 on the season.
Redshirt freshman running back Papi White led the Bobcats offensively as they held off the No. 17 ranked FCS team in the nation. White amassed 132 total yards and two touchdowns (on just six touches) on a day when both A.J. Ouellette and Daz' Patterson struggled to get anything going against a massive SELU defensive line.
Ohio cruised out to an easy enough 21-0 lead at halftime, despite lackluster offensive output on the ground. It appeared the 'Cats defense was going to once again be the winning ingredient for Ohio as the Green and white held the Lions to under 100 yards of total offense in the first half.
But the defensive unit struggled in the second half, showing some chinks in the armor. SE Louisiana picked up steam offensively in the second half, cutting Ohio's 21-point halftime lead to seven early in the fourth quarter. Led by true freshman quarterback Donovan Isom, SELU racked up 130 rushing yards in the second half.
Still, Ohio managed to once again find a way to persevere with White leading the way.
Following the Lions' second score of the second half, White responded in short order with a 58-yard touchdown run up the right sideline to put the 'Cats back ahead two scores with just over eight minutes left in the game. Fans fled Peden as the game went into a 30-minute shutdown due to lightning, but it didn't matter. Momentum was squarely on the 'Cats side and they rode out of the break with a 67-yard touchdown.
"Best fans in the MAC" pic.twitter.com/nRxGoFGafD— Charlie Hatch (@charliehatch_) September 19, 2015
The win did reveal some problems for Ohio. Penalties were an issue again, and the 'Cats front seven needs to be more patient on reading run plays. Key injuries on the offensive line led to Ohio's ground game struggling, but for once head coach Frank Solich appears willing livin the play calling up a bit and got creative to get the ball moving on the ground outside of the tackles.
Another good sign for Ohio: Darius Vick looked good. Damn good. Battling an elbow injury that knocked him out of the Marshall game a week ago, the senior came back Saturday with a vengeance. He looked sharp and hungry. He set a career high with 327 passing yards on the day, and tossed two touchdowns while completing 65 percent of his passes. He also showed no fear when running the ball. The best thing about Vick's play was his ability to spread the ball around. seven different Bobcats caught a pass in the win.
So what's next for the undefeated 'Cats? A trip to Minnesota next week to take on a 2-1 Golden Gophers squad. Minnesota struggled to beat a bad Kent State team at home Saturday, so there is a good chance Ohio could roll out of TFC Bank Stadium next week with its first 4-0 start since 2012.