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Football: Bobcats record first shutout since 2004 campaign
Three weeks ago, Ohio coach Frank Solich said that Ohio’s blowout loss against No. 7 Louisville was one of the worst afternoons he’d spent on a football field.
On Saturday, the Bobcats (3-1) dished out a blowout akin to the one they experienced at Louisville, rolling over an overmatched, winless Austin Peay squad, 38-0.
After the Bobcats’ 42-point loss in their opener, the outlook of their season has taken a turn for the positive. They’re heading into their bye week following their first shutout since 2004.
Despite the loss to Louisville, Ohio remained upbeat and understood it was only one game.
“We don’t have the type of people on our team that are going to get down and just give up on the season because we’ve lost one game,” said sophomore running back Daz’mond Patterson. “We all had the mindset that we’d have to come back here and make North Texas pay for it.
“We’ve just been moving along from there.”
The timing of Ohio’s Saturday win was critical for the Bobcats — a team that is missing multiple starters on both sides of the ball.
Redshirt senior linebacker Keith Moore has not seen the field since the first quarter against Louisville, and Solich has been working to find a combination that works on the offensive line, as four of his five starters from the season opener missed Saturday’s game.
But the large margin of victory allowed starters to rest and young players to get experience, as Solich said that every player who was healthy — excluding redshirted players — saw game action on Saturday.
And pairing that with next week’s bye week provides Ohio ample time to rest players and enter Mid-American Conference play with a relatively healthy team on the road against Akron.
“It’s great to do that, to be able to get the younger guys playing time,” Solich said. “You don’t get in a lot of lopsided games to where you can just be able to substitute freely.”
To pair with the shutout, Ohio’s offense showed flashes of potential, as wide receiver Matt Waters and Patterson put together productive performances.
Waters, who has had 10 catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games, has grown a great deal in Solich’s eyes, as the redshirt senior has put behind him the frequent drops that were once his vice.
“He’s worked on (the drops) and has become a really reliable receiver,” Solich said. “What he can do is really run routes well. … He’s a tough guy to handle and his hands have become so consistent. He’s developed into a really complete receiver.”
Patterson usually doesn’t get many carries because of redshirt seniors Beau Blankenship and Ryan Boykin’s presence on the depth chart. But he took full advantage of every opportunity on Saturday, gaining a career-high 94 yards on seven carries. He also scored Ohio’s final touchdown on a 13-yard fourth-quarter scamper.
The positives of the victory have to be taken with a grain of salt, as Austin Peay is averaging just 3.25 points and 214.5 yards per game.
The Governors botched three field goal attempts that would have broken the shutout, and the Bobcats fumbled the ball three times while forcing no turnovers of their own.
“We’ve got to get better,” Solich said. “There’s a lot of areas that we can improve in and we’ll go about that in the off week.”