ATHENS, OHIO -- The Ohio Bobcats (8-4, 6-2 MAC) defeated Akron (5-7, 3-5 MAC) 9-3 on Tuesday night to clinch the Bobcats first MAC East Division Championship since 2011. With the win, Ohio advances to the MAC Championship game in Detroit to face the West Division Champion on Dec. 2.
There were a lot of struggles in the MAC east to get this thing done,” Ohio head coach Frank Solich said. There were “A lot of close games, (and) a lot of tough football played. So we are proud to represent the MAC East and look forward to going to Detroit.
“This was a game that . . .
Redshirt junior cornerback Bradd Ellis tipped a last second pass to Austin Wolf in the end zone, ending the Zips effort to take the lead. The Bobcat defense combined for three sacks and with them, set the new program single-season record (40).
Neither team scored in the first quarter, trading punts and turnovers on downs. Ohio had a drive that spanned 8:55 and 55 yards, but couldn't convert on 4th and 2.
In the second quarter, redshirt sophomore Maleek Irons broke through multiple tackles for a 21-yard rush, which set Ohio up within the Akron 30. The drive resulted in a 37-yard Zervos field goal, putting Ohio up 3-0. Zervos struck again on the next drive, this time from 49-yards out.
At the half, Ohio led 6-0.
On their first drive of the second half, the Zips strung together a handful of plays to get on the board with a Tom O’Leary field goal. The Bobcats led 6-3. Neither team scored for the remainder of the quarter.
At the start of the fourth quarter, redshirt freshman quarterback Quinton Maxwell connected with senior wide receiver Sebastian Smith for 17 yards and on the following play Irons scrambled for 16. That put the Bobcats on the Zips’ 13. Ohio couldn't score a touchdown, but the drive was capped off by another Zervos field goal. Zervos tied the NCAA record for most field goals made by a freshman place kicker (25).
Asked if he imagined he would be the only Bobcat scoring in the finale, Zervos said, ““No, not a chance. I mean I thought it would come down to a field goal at the beginning of the game because that’s what my mindset always is. I was ready for it, but I didn't think it was going to be all field goals.”
With Ohio leading 9-3, Akron attempted to put together one last drive to win the game. That, however, was thwarted by a senior Tarell Basham sack and that Ellis deflection.
“Props to the defense; they played their butts off the whole game,” Maxwell said. “ They were huge at the end. We executed really well at times, just when we needed to, we didn’t execute as well as we needed to. I didn’t execute as well as I needed to in certain situations. That especially hurt us. But a win is a win no matter how ugly it is.
He continued, “We’re excited for the opportunity to get to Detroit. We know we are going to face a good football team who ever shows up. So we are going to come into this week try to have a great week of practice and try to fix the mistakes we made in this game and make sure they don’t happen up in Detroit.”