COLUMBUS, Ohio – Two fourth quarter touchdowns helped No. 9 Ohio Dominican pull away from Ashland with a 38-20 victory on Saturday in GLIAC play, extending the Panthers' regular season win streak to 18 straight games.
Leading 24-20 going into the quarter, senior quarterback Mark Miller (Cincinnati, Ohio) connected with classmate Casey Williams (Nashport, Ohio) on a four yard touchdown pass that gave ODU (3-0, 3-0 GLIAC) an 11 point cushion. After a swap of punts, the Panthers closed the game with a nine play, 80 yard drive, capped off by Miller's career-best fifth touchdown pass – this one to senior Nick McKnight (Middletown, Ohio) – to account for the final margin.
Ashland (2-1, 2-1 GLIAC) entered the game tops in the GLIAC in scoring (53.5 points per game), second in total offense (537.5 yards per game) and passing offense (275.0 yards per game) and third in rushing (262.5 yards per game). The Panthers defense kept the Eagles in check, holding Ashland to just 303 yards on the day, including 119 in the air.
The Eagles managed just 97 yards in the second half, including 17 in the decisive fourth quarter, and the only first down they gained in the fourth came via a penalty.
Junior Warren Shields (Richwood, Ohio) led the defense with nine tackles, while classmates Austin Osborne (Jackson, Ohio) and Billy Eakins (Pickerington, Ohio) each made eight stops. Junior Cody Culbertson (Galloway, Ohio) had seven stops and junior Sydney Omameh (Columbus, Ohio) finished with 1.5 tackles for loss.
ODU finished with 450 yards of total offense and racked up 24 first downs. Miller completed 27-of-33 passes for 310 yards and the five scores. His 81.8 completion percentage is the sixth-best mark in school single-game history, and the five TD passes are the most by a Panther since Cris Reisert tossed five in 2008.
Junior Dez Stewart (Cincinnati, Ohio) was his top target, hauling in six balls for 102 yards and a score, and Williams tied a career-high with six grabs for 63 yards. Junior Ronald McCloud (Cleveland, Ohio) had five grabs for 46 yards and two first half touchdowns.
On the ground, junior Brandon Schoen (Lewis Center, Ohio) tallied 90 yards and he also had a 43 yard pass reception, zig zagging through the Eagle defense.
Ashland struck quickly in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead, needing just four plays to reach paydirt on a 33 yard TD pass from Travis Tarnowski to Eric Thompkins.
The Panthers responded with 21 unanswered points, though. It was a 9 play, 78 yard drive to counter the Ashland scoring drive, with Miller and Stewart hooking up on a 29 yard pass to tie the game at the 9:20 mark of the quarter.
ODU used a lengthy drive, spanning the end of the first quarter and into the early moments of the second, to take the lead. Consecutive 15 yard runs by Schoen set up the Panthers inside the Eagle red zone, and Miller found McCloud in the end zone on a short three yard pass to make it 14-7.
After the Panthers forced Ashland to punt, ODU struck again. Miller's 33 yard connection with Stewart was the big play on the drive, which ended in a nine yard TD pass to McCloud to give the Panthers a 21-7 lead with 9:20 left in the period.
The Eagles put a touchdown on the board with just 35 seconds left in the second, but ODU – with two timeouts left – went to work as Schoen had an 11 yard run, Williams a 20 yard catch and Stewart a 15 yard reception – to get the Panthers into field goal range. Junior Brent Wahle (Pataskala, Ohio) cashed in with a 39 yard make as time ran out to give the Panthers a 24-14 lead at the break.
In the third quarter, ODU punted on its opening drive and Ashland drew within 24-20 after a 13 play, 80 yard drive that chewed up 6:04 off the clock. Anthony Taylor's five yard run capped the drive, but Omameh got a hand on the extra point to block it – his fifth career kick block, a school record – and keep the ODU edge at four points going into the decisive fourth quarter.
This was the first home win by either team in the five game series, and ODU now sports a 28-5 record against opponents from the state of Ohio since 2007.
Ohio Dominican hits the road for a noon kickoff on Saturday at Walsh.
Contact: Scott Miles