ATHENS, Oh. -Ohio raised its record to 7-0 and made its case to move into the top 25 nationally Saturday afternoon at Peden Stadium, building up a 34-14 lead over visiting Akron before coach Terry Bowden's team scored the game's final two touchdowns to make the final score a respectable, perhaps too close for comfort, 34-28.
It was a record-setting day for Ohio junior quarterback Tyler Tettleton -the son of former Baltimore Orioles star Mickey Tettleton -who needed one touchdown pass to become the school's all-time career leader in that category.
That historic moment came just 5 minutes and 40 seconds into the game when Tettleton connected with Donte Foster for a 13-yard TD and a 14-0 Ohio lead.
Ironically, Tettleton also was involved in Ohio's first score of the game, which came just just 2 minutes and 19 seconds after the kickoff. That's when he became a receiver and hauled in a 39-yard TD pass from Landon Smith for a 7-0 Ohio lead.
The Bobcats, off to their first 7-0 start since 1968, threatened to turn the game into a runaway during the second quarter, but both of their drives ended with Ohio settling for Matt Weller field goals of 44 and 29 yards. The latter came with 57 seconds left in the half and gave Ohio a 20-0 lead.
Instead of folding its tent, Akron went on an improbable 75-yard TD march that encompassed just 28 seconds. Akron quarterback Dalton Williams completed four passes on the drive and Ohio helped the Zips cause with a 15-yard personal foul penalty. Akron finally lit up its side of the scoreboard with 16 seconds left before intermission when Williams connected with L.T. Smith for a 19-yard TD, cutting the halftime deficit to 20-7.
Rather than being a one-hit wonder, Akron took the second half kickoff and matched that drive, again going 75 yards for a touchdown.
Again, Ohio aided the cause with a 15-yard penalty, and again, Dalton Williams completed the drive with a TD pass, this time a 10-yard strike to Tyler Williams. It was 20-14 Ohio with 12:30 left in the third quarter and the natives were getting a little restless with the Bobcats, who were three-touchdown favorites to win the Mid-American Conference contest.
That seemed to serve as Ohio's wake-up call as the Bobcats finished the quarter with a pair of TDs. First, Tettleton pushed the lead to 27-14 with a 2-yard TD pass to Troy Hill with 4:30 left in the quarter, Then, Octavius Leftwich set up a score by intercepting a Williams pass, putting the Cats in business at their own 44. With Ryan Boykin carrying the ball on the first six plays of the drive, Ohio was at the Akron 13. Three plays later, it was Boykin who appropriately closed the march with a 5-yard TD run with 37 seconds left in the quarter for a comfortable 34-14 lead.
At least it seemed comfortable at the time. Akron decided to make things a little uncomfortable again by tacking on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. Both came on TD passes from Dalton Williams to Jerrod Dillon, a 6-yard scoring strike at the 9:15 mark and a 5-yard TD with 1:59 to go.
Williams finished the game with 32 completions in 53 attempts for 298 yards and four TDs. Tettleton, meanwhile, was 13-of-27 for 150 yards and his record-breaking two TDs. Beau Blankenship rushed for 108 yards on 17 carries for Ohio, while Boykin had 96 yards on 19 attempts and Tettleton gained 65 yards on 12 carries. Hill was Tettleton's top target, catching five passes for 52 yards.
Ohio is off next week before traveling to Oxford, Ohio, on Oct. 27 to meet Miami in a 3:30 p.m. contest.