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Ohio starts fast in 34-10 victory against Buffalo

Bobcats run out to 20-0 lead in 1st half

ATHENS – Ohio scored on the first play from scrimmage, racked up a big early lead and rolled to a 34-10 victory against Buffalo on Thursday night at Peden Stadium, putting the Bobcats one win away from clinching the Mid-American Conference East Division title with two games to go.

Quinton Maxwell hit Papi White for a 73-yard touchdown pass on Ohio’s first offensive play, and the Bobcats went up 20-0 in the second quarter, never allowing the Bulls into the game.

“We certainly played well enough to win by 24 points, so that is a good victory, but I am really proud of this football team,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said.

Javon Hagan’s 60-yard return of an interception set up a 32-yard Louis Zervos field goal with 3:08 left in the first quarter, and after Buffalo’s Adam Mitcheson missed a 38-yarder, the Bobcats (7-3, 5-1 MAC) increased their lead to 17-0 with 12:30 remaining in the first half on a 1-yard touchdown run by Maleek Irons.

After Brad Ellis forced Buffalo’s Jamarl Eiland to fumble the kickoff and Cody Grilliot recovered, Ohio increased its lead to 20-0 on a 51-yard Zervos field goal.

Buffalo’s lone score of the first half came on a 75-yard pass from Tyree Jackson to tight end Mason Schreck, but Maxwell answered with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Ball. The Bulls (2-7, 1-4 MAC) had a 44-yard completion to Malco Robinson to the Ohio 2-yard line on their next possession, but they ended up settling for a Mitcheson 22-yard field goal to put the halftime score at 27-10.

Neither team scored in the third quarter, and the Bobcats put the game away on a Dorian Brown 1-yard touchdown run with 9:16 to go.

Maxwell finished 13-of-23 passing for 236 yards and two touchdowns, with White making six catches for 113 yards. Sebastian Smith caught three balls for 66 yards.

“Everybody that’s here loves this game,” Maxwell said. “That’s why we’re here. We love it. We just can’t put any pressure on ourselves. You just have to try and find a way to calm yourself down and go in and execute and that’s what I tried to do.”

Irons led the rushing attack with 64 yards on 12 carries, Maxwell had nine carries for 50 yards, and Brown finished with 32 yards on 13 attempts.

Jackson was 23-of-38 passing for 302 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but the Bulls were unable to run the ball effectively. Jordan Johnson had 17 carries for 59 yards, and Jackson, who was sacked five times, netted just 25 yards on 15 attempts. Schreck finished with 120 yards on seven catches.

Blair Brown had 11 tackles, including two sacks, and Tarell Basham had 1.5 sacks to tie the single-season school record of nine by Jason Carthen in 1992 and add to his career-record total, which now stands at 27. Toran Davis finished with 10 tackles.

“We have always played with energy and enthusiasm,” Basham said. “I guess getting closer her to the MAC Championship we realize that ‘hey we got a good shot at this thing.’ Everybody is playing as hard as they can. It’s been one of the best teams I’ve ever played with since I’ve been here and its really been enjoyable.”

Buffalo netted more yards than Ohio, 413-392, but field position played a big part in the Bobcats winning by blowout anyway. Three different Buffalo second-half drives started inside its own 11-yard line, while the Bobcats had three possessions in the game that began in Buffalo territory and another that was a yard shy of midfield.

Ohio holds a game and a half lead over Miami in the MAC East and is two games ahead of Akron. The Bobcats can clinch the division with wins in either of their final two games and could wrap up the title even before they play their next game if Akron loses Wednesday to Bowling Green and Miami loses either of its next two games.

“I don’t know how many football teams I have been associated with that have played 10 straight football games without a break,” Solich said. “I can tell you it’s not been many, if any. So to play 10 straight, one of them within a five-day period, they are banged up, bruised, tired, and they still played hard for four quarters. We weren’t as crisp and sharp and explosive as we have been at times, but they need a break. So to win this game in this manner was great of these guys. We are going to welcome this break.”

The Bobcats have 11 days off before playing at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 at Central Michigan.

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