Ohio falters in 4th quarter against East Carolina

Ohio started slowly, and then surged into the lead. It faded

down the stretch in the Beef `O’ Brady’s Bowl, making the whole

game very much like the Bobcats’ season.

”That’s exactly what it felt like. We were up and down,”

running back Daz’ Patterson said Monday after a 37-20 loss to East

Carolina. ”We were up and down. One minute we were having a good

drive, and then we were shut down by one silly play or something

silly. It felt like the whole season in a nutshell.”

Vintavious Cooper rushed for a career-best 198 yards for East

Carolina, setting a Beef `O’ Brady’s Bowl record. The Pirates

(10-3) grabbed the lead for good on the first of Cooper’s two

touchdowns runs in the fourth quarter, a 31-yard burst with just

under 10 minutes remaining.

”A win would have made this a whole lot better,” Bobcats

receiver Donte Foster said. ”It would have made it very

tremendous, but I felt like our guys played their hearts out.”

East Carolina’s Shane Carden threw for 273 yards and one TD and

also scored on a pass reception.

Cam Worthy caught an early 5-yard scoring pass from Carden, and

then took a lateral and threw 14 yards back to Carden for a

fourth-quarter TD that made it 31-20. Cooper put it well out of

reach, finding an opening off left tackle and racing 22 yards for

his second TD.

Tyler Tettleton and Derrius Vick threw scoring passes for Ohio

(7-6), which overcame an early two-touchdown deficit to lead 20-17

before Cooper put East Carolina back in front before an announced

crowd of 20,053 at Tropicana Field.

”We picked up our tempo there in the second half, and I felt

like that affected them a lot. We could see they were getting

tired, so we tried to continue to speed up the game and try to use

that to our advantage,” Foster said. ”We got in a good rhythm

there for a while and then adversity hit us, and we just didn’t

respond the way I wish we would have.”

Tettleton and Vick each threw a touchdown pass in a five-minute

span to make it 14-all early in the second quarter.

Tettleton got the Bobcats going with a 26-yard completion to

Patterson on a flea flicker, and then found Patterson for a 17-yard

TD on the following play. Vick and Foster combined for an 80-yard

score on Ohio’s next offensive play for the longest scoring pass in

Beef `O’ Brady’s Bowl history.

”They’re a very, very physical football team on the defensive

side, and very strong. Generally you’re not going to traditionally

line up and just run the ball right at them and feel like you’re

going to be successful,” Bobcats coach Frank Solich said. ”We had

to come up with ways that we felt we could continue to make plays

and then hopefully have our fair share of big plays.”

Foster finished with six catches for 160 yards, earning most

valuable player honors for Ohio. Tettleton was 21 of 40 for 228

yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

The Bobcats took a 20-17 lead on Josiah Yazdani’s 28-yard field

goal early in the fourth quarter, and then recovered a perfectly

executed onside kick.

Eight plays later, Yazdani’s 45-yard attempt sailed wide left,

and the game shifted dramatically from there.

”We didn’t convert when we had the onside kick and had a chance

to put points on the board,” Solich said. ”Not putting points on

the board there, I think, really hurt us. That was a critical time

in the game, no question about it.”

East Carolina rebounded from a triple-overtime loss to Tulane in

October to win five of its final six regular-season games. Ohio

stumbled in November losses to Buffalo, Bowling Green and Kent

State before finishing with a 51-23 rout of Massachusetts that

helped the Bobcats secure the trip to St. Petersburg.

Ohio accepted the bid to the Beef `O’ Brady’s bowl after the

American Athletic Conference was unable to fulfill its bowl

commitments. Ball State lost to Central Florida in last year’s

game, making the trip when the Big East was unable to supply a

team.