CANTON, Ohio – Ohio Dominican's eighth-ranked football team capped off an undefeated regular season with a 40-13 win at Malone on Saturday, clinching the program's first GLIAC championship and ensuring the team an appearance in the NCAA Playoffs.
The Panthers closed the regular season with a 10-0 record, including 9-0 in the GLIAC. The Panthers stretched Division II's longest win streak to 15 consecutive games.
The NCAA Selection Show airs at 5 p.m. on Sunday through the NCAA website, where ODU will learn when and where it will play. The Panthers entered today's game ranked second in Super Region Four, with the top-six qualifying for the postseason.
This is the second undefeated regular season in ODU history and will mark ODU's second postseason appearance (2007, NAIA Quarterfinalists.)
Sophomore Da'Twane Harris (Cleveland, Ohio) got a hand on Malone's first punt, giving ODU possession at the Pioneers' 31 yard line. It took just five plays for the Panthers to reach paydirt, with senior Mark Nichols (Pataskala, Ohio) sweeping around the left end for a three-yard touchdown.
Sophomore Cody Culbertson (Galloway, Ohio) then got a piece of the next Malone punt, setting up the offense on the Pioneer 44. Again, it took five plays for the offense to score, this time with sophomore Brandon Schoen (Olentangy, Ohio) carrying the load and scoring from 13 yards out.
Malone answered with a touchdown drive of its own, but ODU blocked the extra point, which Harris scooped up and ran back 95 yards down the Panther sideline for a two-point conversion. That gave the Panthers a 16-6 lead late in the first quarter.
ODU then took over possession on its ensuing drive on its 36. Junior quarterback Mark Miller (Cincinnati, Ohio) connected with sophomore Dez Stewart (Cincinnati, Ohio) on a 44-yard pass deep inside Pioneer territory, and two plays later Nichols powered through a pile and into the end zone for a nine-yard score, giving the Panthers a 23-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
It was the highest scoring quarter for the Panthers this season.
Malone controlled possession for much of the second quarter, but sophomore Brad McCurdy (Columbus, Ohio) forced a fumble inside the ODU five that Culbertson fell on, and the defense came up with another stop on downs inside its 25.
Later in the quarter, Miller hooked up with junior Casey Williams (Nashport, Ohio) on a 42-yard strike, setting up Nichols' third touchdown run of the half, and the defense came up with another fumble to close the first half and give ODU a 30-6 lead at the break.
The Panthers then went on a 15-play, 95-yard touchdown drive to start the second half, capped off on a 10-yard pass from Miller to Williams to make it 37-6.
Sophomore Brent Wahle (Pataskala, Ohio) capped ODU's scoring with a 51-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, the longest made field goal in school and establishing a new GLIAC record for most made field goals in a season.
ODU finished with just 376 total yards of offense, but that was largely due to tremendous field position. Schoen ran for 151 yards on 27 carries, while Nichols added 53 yards and the three scores on just 11 rushes.
Miller completed 9-of-15 passes for 156 yards, with Stewart's 61 yards leading the way.
The defense limited Malone to 302 total yards, registering five sacks and 10 tackles for loss on the afternoon.
Sophomore Di'Andre Harrison (Columbus, Ohio) had three sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. He totaled eight tackles on the day. Classmate Sydney Omameh (Columbus, Ohio) finished with seven tackles, a sack and 3.0 tackles for loss and blocked two kicks, and Warren Shields (Richwood, Ohio) finished with 10 tackles (nine solo) in the win.
Contact: Scott Miles