Nation's Lone Top-25 Matchup Of The Week In Store For Football As Panthers Take On Tiffin

Photo by Todd Thoenen
Photo by Todd Thoenen

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the first time since 2007, Ohio Dominican and Tiffin will engage in a top-25 matchup as the Panthers travel to Frost-Kalnow Stadium for a 4 p.m. contest on Saturday.

Tiffin enters with a 7-0 record and is ranked No. 17 in the nation, while the Panthers enter with a 6-1 mark and a No. 25 ranking.

The only other time these teams met as nationally ranked foes saw No. 8 ODU come away with a 30-22 win over No. 20 Tiffin on Sept. 15, 2007. This is only the third time in school history that the Panthers have a played a regular season game against a team 7-0 or better and the first time in its Division II era, dating back to 2010.

The Panthers have won four straight games and 13 of their past 14 following a 57-17 victory over Malone last Saturday. ODU racked up 34 first downs in the game, the third-most in school history, and jumped to a 26-0 lead after the opening 15 minutes. That's tied for the 10th-most points in a quarter for the Panthers in program history.

ODU dominated the field position game, as the Panthers' average drive start in the first half was the Malone 48 yard line. Seven of ODU's first eight drives started on the Panthers' own 48 yard line or better and the Panthers would score on nine of their 11 possessions in the game, with the last possession ending in a victory formation.

The Panthers tallied 505 yards of offense in the game, rushing for 209 yards and throwing for 296. ODU had a 310-165 edge in yardage by halftime, did not punt once, and recovered three Malone fumbles without turning the ball over once itself.

Junior David Turner (Fort Wayne, Ind.) set the tone with a 47 yard kick return to start the game and averaged 47.3 yards on three returns, the third-best mark in school history. He also had returns of 41 and 54 yards and finished with 224 all-purpose yards, catching five passes for 76 yards and a score.

Freshman Evan Ernst (Cincinnati, Ohio) continues to lead the nation in completion percentage (73.7 percent) and ranks second in passing efficiency (183.1) as he went 16-of-22 for 240 yards and three scores. He has completed 57 of his 72 throws on first down plays (79.2 percent) this fall and 41.4 percent of his pass attempts have gone for first downs (63 first downs on 152 attempts.)

ODU's one-two punch of junior EJ Colson (Middletown, Ohio) and Fred Pitts (Huber Heights, Ohio) continue to excel at running back, with Pitts carrying for 72 yards and Colson adding 58 yards and two scores. Pitts has rushed for 161 yards on 26 carries (6.2 per carry) over the last three weeks while Colson is second in the league with 584 rushing yards.

The Panther defense, meanwhile, has at least three takeaways in four games so far this year, and ODU is 13th nationally in turnover margin and 17th in takeaways. Tawain Gordon (Columbus, Ohio), Brian Hunter (Mayfield, Ohio) and Julian Linkhart (Beavercreek, Ohio) all forced fumbles, and Gordon also blocked a kick.

ODU's defense limited Walsh and Malone to 251 yards rushing on 79 carries (3.2 yards per carry) over the last two games.

QUICK HITS

• Since 2006, ODU has an overall record of 99-39 (.717 win percentage.) The Panthers are 53-14 in their last 67 games (.791 win percentage.) ODU has also won 51 of its last 64 regular season games (.797).
 
• Over the past 64 games, ODU has outscored opponents by 1,089 points, an average of 17.0 points per game. The Panthers have scored 30 or more points 43 times in that stretch and held opponents to 14 points or fewer 25 times.
 
• ODU is 46-8 against opponents from Ohio since 2007 (.852 win percentage.)
 
• The Panthers are 29-6 in their last 35 regular season road games (.829).
 
• ODU is 53-4 (.930) in its last 57 games against unranked opponents, dating back to Oct. 15, 2011.

Contact: Scott Miles
miless@ohiodominican.edu