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