GAME NOTES: Fresh off their upset victory over Penn State in the season opener, the Ohio University Bobcats return home to Peden Stadium to take on the New Mexico State Aggies in a non-conference battle.
New Mexico State also comes in with a 1-0 record after it dominated Sacramento State, 49-19, on Thursday. Head coach DeWayne Walker, now in his fourth season, picked up his first victory in a season opening game as his Aggies improved to 1-0 for the first time since 2007. The win also ended the three- game losing streak that ended NMSU's 2011 season. Although they took care of business, the Aggies' decisive triumph over Sacramento State was expected, as the Hornets finished 2011 with a 4-7 overall record as a member of the FCS.
The Bobcats went into halftime of their opener with the Nittany Lions trailing, 14-3, before a second half rally helped coach Frank Solich's team stun Penn State, 24-14, and win for the seventh time in eight outings. Ohio's upset of PSU gave the program its third straight season opening win. The Bobcats had high hopes coming into 2012 after going 10-4 overall, winning the Mid-American Conference East Division title, and earning their first-ever bowl in program history last season. The recent surge of success came in part, due to Solich's decision to switch to a faster paced, no huddle offense prior to the 2011 season.
To kickoff the 2011 season, Ohio went on the road to Las Cruces and took down NMSU, 44-24, in the first-ever meeting between the programs. The Bobcats' defense held NMSU to only six rushing yards, while their offense gained 452 total yards.
NMSU's strong showing versus the Hornets was charged by sophomore wide receiver Austin Franklin, who was named the WAC offensive player of the week on Monday after recording a career-high 236 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches.
Andrew Manley earned the starting quarterback job in the preseason and did not make coach Walker regret his decision as he completed 14-of-22 attempts for 367 yards and three scores. Although Manley was sacked four times, NMSU did not turn the ball over once despite three fumbles. Manley led all FBS players with a passing efficiency of 248.8 in week one.
Robert Clay, Germi Morrison, Akeelie Mustafa, and Tiger Powell split the ball carrying duties for NMSU as it amassed just 101 rushing yards. Despite the below average production from the rushing attack, the Aggies still managed to put 49 points on the scoreboard, which surpasses their highest scoring output of 2011.
The Aggies held Sacramento State to 89 rushing yards, but allowed the Hornets' Garrett Safron to complete 23-of-35 attempts for 308 yards and two touchdowns. Jeremy Harris picked off Safron for his first career interception, but NMSU failed to sack the Hornets' quarterback.
Linebacker Trashaun Nixon paced NMSU with 15 total tackles and also recorded two tackles for loss while Bryan Bonilla contributed a second-best effort with 11 tackles.
Nixon and Bonilla will have their work cut out for them as they prepare to stop the MAC's offensive player of the week, Tyler Tettleton. The Bobcats' signal caller earned the weekly distinction after completing 31-of-41 passes to 10 different receivers for 324 yards and two scores with no interceptions. Tettleton now needs just nine more passing touchdowns to become the program's all-time leader.
Tettleton's effort charged Ohio's offense as it gained 499 total yards on a Big Ten Conference defense. Junior running back Beau Blankenship balanced the attack by running for a game-high 109 yards in addition to his career-high 72 receiving yards. Sophomore wideout Landon Smith meshed well with Tettleton in his inaugural start and reeled in the first receiving touchdown of his career to go along with a team-best 82 yards.
Initially, it looked like Ohio's defense was overmatched by the Nittany Lions as Penn State gained 173 yards in the first quarter. Senior safety Gerald Moore anchored the defense with seven tackles and a forced fumble as the Bobcats stifled the Nittany Lions the rest of the way and shut out PSU in the second half.
Ohio was impressive overall as it held the Nittany Lions to 352 total yards and forced three turnovers. Senior linebacker Jelani Woseley was responsible for one of the three as he located a tipped Matt McGloin pass with just under two minutes remaining to help clinch the win.
Solich's squad exhibited both talent and toughness while overcoming PSU. Ohio should have no problem continuing its success again in its own backyard versus a lesser opponent. The Aggies have to find a way to establish a running game against Ohio's defensive unit to take pressure off of the Manley-Franklin tandem and remain competitive.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio University 45, New Mexico State 20
09/05 10:33:14 ET
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