Story and photo courtesy of Ohio Dominican Athletics
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Dominican's football team claimed its third straight victory, downing visiting Tiffin 31-14 in GLIAC action Saturday at Panther Field.
ODU, which racked up 500 yards of offense for the sixth time in the past seven games, improved to 6-3 (5-3 GLIAC), while the Dragons fell to 2-7 (1-7 GLIAC).
The sophomore tandem of quarterback Mark Miller (Cincinnati, Ohio) and wideout Abe Johnson (Cincinnati, Ohio) combined for 154 yards, with Johnson hauling down seven passes. Miller completed a career-best 22-of-34 throws for 284 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a TD.
Senior Mark Nichols (Newark, Ohio) ran for 108 yards and freshman Brandon Schoen (Olentangy, Ohio) ran for 65 yards and a TD. ODU finished with 216 yards on the ground.
Senior Ben Patterson (Parma, Ohio) continued his strong late-season play as he made a career-best nine stops (2.0 for loss), to go alone with a sack and a forced fumble. Junior Justin Bell (Groveport, Ohio) finished with nine tackles, an interception and a sack, forcing and recovering a fumble on the hit. Senior Matt Grieb (Newark, Ohio) finished with seven stops as well.
The Panthers got on the board first with a nine play, 55-yard touchdown march in the first quarter. Miller capped the drive with a keeper from four yards out to give ODU a 7-0 lead with three minutes left in the quarter.
ODU extended its lead to 14-0 in the second frame with a 10-play, 81-yard drive. Nichols busted loose for a 42 yard run down the Panther sideline, and Schoen found the end zone from 10 yards out to make it 14-0 at the 8:43 mark.
Tiffin struck back two plays later with a 40-yard TD, though, then knotted the score with 1:05 left on a 26-yard touchdown pass.
But the Panthers answered with a touchdown before intermission to take a lead into the locker room. Schoen ran for 13 yards, and Miller hooked up with freshman Ronald McCloud (Cleveland, Ohio) on another `13-yard gain to move the ball deep into Tiffin territory. Facing third-and-goal from the nine with eight seconds left, Miller connected with freshman Dez Stewart (Cincinnati, Ohio) in the back of the end zone to give ODU a 21-14 lead at the break.
ODU then took the opening kickoff of the second half and went 78 yards in nine plays. Johnson went 38 yards on a screen pass, and Miller found Mick down the seam for a 22-yard pickup. Junior Ronnel Spates (Cleveland, Ohio) closed the drive with a three-yard run around the left side, giving the Panthers a 28-14 lead at the 11:35 mark.
The defense stiffened in the third quarter, holding Tiffin to just 54 yards in the frame, and Bell started the fourth quarter with his first interception of the season. ODU capped its scoring later in the quarter with a 28-yard field goal by freshman Brent Wahle (Pataskala, Ohio).
ODU finished with 27 first downs in the game and outgained Tiffin 500-363. The Panthers converted 8-of-14 third downs and held Tiffin to just 3-of-13 on third downs. ODU also tallied three sacks as the Panthers improved to 7-1 in their last eight home games.
The Panther defense has allowed just 28 points in its last 10 quarters of action.
Miller set career highs in both completions (22) and attempts (34), and Johnson's 154 yards were also a career-high. Nichols also had a career day with a personal best 108 yards, his second career 100-yard game and first since going for 102 against Central State in 2009.
Ohio Dominican hits the road for its final contest away from Panther Field as ODU takes on Lake Erie at 1 p.m. next Saturday.