#8 Football Earns 34-23 Win in Playoff Opener at #17 Mines

#8 Football Earns 34-23 Win in Playoff Opener at #17 Mines

ARVADA, Colo. – Ohio Dominican's football team went on the road to earn its first Division II playoff victory, taking a 34-23 win at No. 17 Colorado School of Mines on Saturday.

The Panthers, ranked No. 8 in the country, improve to 10-1 on the season and will take on No. 4 Ferris State in Big Rapids next Saturday at a time to be determined. Ferris State is the top seed in the region, while ODU is the fifth seed.

Big plays in the passing game helped give the Panthers a 24-10 halftime lead, and the defense held the high powered Mines offense 17 points below its season average.

The Panthers won despite being outgained 519-422. The Orediggers (10-2), which average 88 plays per game on offense, had the ball for 108 plays and 33:22.

Holding on to a 24-16 lead early in the fourth quarter, junior Brent Wahle (Pataskala, Ohio) made a 32 yard field goal that was partially deflected at the line of scrimmage, but still sailed through the uprights.

That gave the Panthers a 27-16 lead with 13:27 left, and ODU earned some more breathing room on its next possession. Facing a third-and-three, junior Brandon Schoen (Lewis Center, Ohio) took a handoff around the right side and found daylight down the sideline for a 29 yard touchdown run, giving the Panthers a 34-16 lead with 6:55 left.

Mines scored a touchdown with 3:07 to play and got the ball back in the waning moments, but a fourth down incompletion sealed the victory for the Panthers.

Senior Mark Miller (Cincinnati, Ohio) completed 18-of-27 passes for 313 yards and a touchdown. Junior Dez Stewart (Cincinnati, Ohio) tallied 158 yards receiving while senior Nick McKnight (Middletown, Ohio) had six grabs for 98 yards. Senior Ronald McCloud (Cleveland, Ohio) finished with seven catches, and Schoen ran for 112 yards and two scores.

Junior Austin Osborne (Jackson, Ohio) made 12 tackles, freshman Cameron Kohl (Hilliard, Ohio) had a career-best 11 stops and junior Brad McCurdy (Columbus, Ohio) finished with 10 tackles.

Mines scored a touchdown on the game's opening possession, moving 77 yards in 14 plays to take the early lead. The Panthers responded later in the quarter as Miller hooked up with Stewart on a 49 yard pass play, leading to a one yard plunge by Schoen to tie the game with 4:47 to play in the quarter.

ODU's defense came up with a big play as McCurdy intercepted a pass at the ODU 23 yard line and returned it to the 32 early in the second quarter. On the next play, Miller connected with Stewart on a 68 yard touchdown to give the Panthers their first lead at 14-7.

Mines answered with a field goal with nine minutes to play in the second, but Wahle sank a 46 yard field goal to extend the lead back to a touchdown, 17-10, with 6:11 left in the quarter.

The defense forced a three-and-out and Stewart returned the punt 35 yards to the Mines 30 yard line. Miller found McKnight for an 18 yard completion, Schoen had an eight yard run and Miller kept it himself got a four yard TD to give ODU a 24-10 lead with 3:03 left.

Mines threatened on its next drive, but junior Da'Twane Harris (Cleveland, Ohio) forced a fumble at the Panther 10 yard line that sophomore Marquise Tyus (Lakewood, Ohio) recovered with just over a minute left to keep the Panther lead at 24-10 at the half.

More information on Saturday's game against Ferris State will be posted when made available.

Contact: Scott Miles