COLUMBUS, Ohio – After moving up six spots to No. 17 in the AFCA rankings, Ohio Dominican's football team will play host to another top-20 program as No. 18 Ashland visits Panther Stadium to resume the rivalry between the two schools.
ODU will look to continue its momentum from a 28-23 season-opening victory over California (Pa.) last Thursday, bouncing back from a 36-34 setback to the Vulcans in the 2017 opener. The Panthers have now won eight straight games, the second-longest winning streak in the country behind 2017 national champs Texas A&M Commerce (11).
Big plays were the theme of the game for ODU as three of the Panthers' scoring drives were buoyed by 30-plus yard pass plays and lasted less than two minutes. Cal had a 17-minute edge in time of possession and ran 33 more plays than the Panthers, but ODU's defense stood tall in the second half, allowing just one scoring drive and forcing four incompletions from the Panther 15-yard line at the end of the game.
Two receivers cracked the century mark as senior Cory Contini (Dover, Ohio) had six grabs for 125 yards and a score and sophomore Devanaire Conliffe (Willoughby, Ohio) had a career-best 116 yards and two scores, one of 50 yards and the other a career-long 59 yarder.
Making his first start, junior Shane Bucenell (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) completed 76.9 percent of his passes (20-of-26) for 299 yards and the three scores.
Trailing 17-14 at the half, ODU's defense stepped up in the third quarter, limiting Cal to just three first downs and 48 yards of offense as the Panthers eventually took a 28-17 lead early in the fourth. The Panthers also picked off three passes, with junior Alessio Amato (Zanesville, Ohio) coming away with two interceptions and senior Ross Thompson (Delphos, Ohio) adding another one, while senior Tristan Kehres (Shelby, Ohio) also intercepted a two-point conversion pass.
The Panthers also received terrific special teams play, with sophomore Logen Neidhardt (Hicksville, Ohio) averaging a career-best 47.7 yards per punt, and classmate Jed Quackenbush (Newark, Ohio) averaging 59.2 yards per kickoff with a pair of touchbacks. Junior David Turner (Fort Wayne, Ind.) also averaged 24.0 yards per kick return.