Broncos Tame the Bobcats

Saturday night the Western Michigan University Broncos lose the lead, come from behind, and hold off the Ohio University Bobcats in front 14,281 fans at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio to win their MAC opener 39-32. Despite jumping out to a 17-0 first quarter lead, the Broncos needed a 1 yard run from Phil Reed to secure the victory.

The first quarter started with the Broncos receiving the opening kickoff, but was only able to move the ball three yards and was forced to punt. Adam Anderson came in and booted a 59-yard punt but Stafford Owens was able to return it to Ohio's 36-yard line. Three plays later Jack Gitler intercepted a Fred Ray pass at Ohio's 44-yard line.

On the first play following Gitler's interception Chad Munson connected with Kendrick Mosley for a 26-yard pass. The completion extended Mosley's reception streak to 34 games. The Broncos then stalled only gaining 2 yards on the next three plays and settled for a 33-yard field goal by Robert Menchinger to give the Broncos a 3-0 lead.

On Ohio's next possession Mark Hardy, who got the start to fill in for the injured Jason Feldpausch recovered a John Taylor fumble that was forced by Paul Moersch. The Broncos drove down the field and capped off a 7-play, 55-yard drive with a 6-yard pass from Munson to Mosley for the Broncos first touchdown of the game and a 10-0 lead.

The Broncos made the score 17-0 when late in the first quarter after Gitler recovered a Phillip Fountain fumble. The Broncos then needed just three plays to put the ball in the endzone. Phil Reed rushed three times for gains of 8, 4 and 6 yards and his first touchdown of the game.

Despite the score being 17-0 the teams played a relative equal game when looking at the statistics. The Broncos gained 5 first down 2 more than the Bobcats. The Broncos had 41-yards rushing to the Bobcats 40. Phil Reed had 40 of the Broncos 41 rushing yards. The Broncos gained 63 yards through the air compared to the 59 for the Bobcats. The Broncos only had 5 more total yards for the quarter than the Bobcats. The Broncos finished the first quarter with 104 yards to the Bobcats 99 yards.

The Bobcats only need one play to score a touchdown to start the second quarter. Fred Ray rushed three yards for the Bobcats first touchdown. The drive that started with just over a minute left in the first quarter took 7 plays and 79 yards. A 48-yard pass by Ray to Scott Mayle helped set up Ray's touchdown run.

The Broncos answered the Bobcats touchdown with one of their own on their next drive. Following a 59-yard pass from Munson to Greg Jennings the Broncos called on Phil Reed for a 1-yard run and his second touchdown of the game. Reed's run gave the Broncos a 24-7 lead.

The Broncos had a chance to increase their lead over the Bobcats when Mike Giorgianni recovered a Scott Mayle fumble at the Bobcat's 31-yard line. However, the Broncos were only able to gain 3 yards on 3 plays and decided to try for the field goal. Menchinger's 38-yard attempt sailed wide right.

The Bobcats then brought in former Miami University quarterback Ryan Hawk who led the Bobcats down the field in 12 plays for 79 yards. On the drive two Bronco offside penalties negated an interception by Jason Babin. Five plays later with Fred Ray back in the game he rushed for 20 yards and his second touchdown of the game. The touchdown shortened the Broncos lead to 24-14.

On the Broncos next drive Andre Bradford forced an Anthony Kiner fumble. Rob Stover recovered the fumble for the Bobcats at the Broncos 42-yard line. The Bobcats were able to move down to the Broncos 8-yard line before their drive stalled and had to settle for a 25-yard Greg DiMarino field goal. Both teams went into halftime with the score WMU 24 and the Broncos 17.

The Broncos got on the board first in the third quarter on their second possession when Munson connected with Jennings again. This time Jennings was able to get in the endzone for a 44-yard touchdown pass. The touchdown gave the Broncos a 31-17 lead.

After that, the Bobcats took over. Aided by a 34-yard run by Ray, the Bobcats drove down the field in 9 plays and 52 yards before settling for a 24-yard DiMarino field goal. Following DiMarino's field goal, the Bobcats defense took over. The Broncos drove down to the Bobcats 26-yard line before Munson through a pass that T.J. Wright intercepted and returned it to Ohio's 30-yard line.

Ohio was forced to punt after their drive stalled on the Broncos 44-yard line. The Broncos turned the ball over again when Dennis Chukwuemeka intercepted a Munson pass at the Ohio 40-yard line and returned it 9 yards to their own 49-yard line.

Ray wasted no time in turning the interception into points for the Bobcats. On Ohio's first play following the interception he connected with Scott Mayle for a 51-yard touchdown pass. The Bobcats decided to go for the two-point conversion but Ray was stopped when he tried to run to the right side. But the Broncos lead was cut to 31-26.

Following the kickoff the Broncos again turned the ball over again. This time Phil Reed caught a short pass and ran up the middle. Reed ran into the Umpire and Hugh Grant at the same time forcing Reed to lose control of the football. Bradford recovered the fumble at the Broncos 33-yard line.

The Bobcats were able to turn the turnover into points when Scott Mayle ran in for a 23-yard touchdown 4 plays later. Ohio decided to go for the two-point conversion but Ray's pass fell incomplete but the Bobcats had the lead for the first time at 32-31 with 8:58 left in the game.

The Broncos put Jennings back on the kick return team and after Matthew Miller's kick, Jennings took advantage of the playing time on special teams. Getting some good blocks Jennings returned the kickoff 42 yards to the Ohio 35-yard line where Miller was able to push him out-of-bounds.

Four plays later Reed rushed for his third touchdown of the game, a 1-yard run. The Broncos decided to go for the two-point conversion and succeeded when Munson connected with Antonio Thomas in the endzone, giving the Broncos a 39-32 lead that would end up being the final score.

The Broncos had a chance to increase their lead when they held the Bobcats to a three-and-out. Munson led the Broncos down the field on a drive that started at the 17-yard line. Four minutes and twelve seconds later the drive stalled at the Ohio 30-yard line and the Broncos turned over the ball on downs when the Broncos failed to convert the first down on a fake field goal try.

With 57 seconds left in the game, Ray led the Bobcats down to the Broncos 34-yard line before trying to connect with Mayle in the endzone on 4th and 10. Scott Robinson intercepted the pass in the endzone and secured the Broncos second victory of the season.

Munson threw for 315 yards, his third game of throwing over 300 yards this season. Reed rushed for 115 yards his first game of 100 yards or more this season. Mosley and Jennings combined for 207 of the Broncos 315 receiving yards. Mosley recorded 104 yards on 7 catches with 1 touchdown. Jennings had 103 yards on two catches and one touchdown.

The Broncos (2-2, 1-0 MAC) face in-state rival Eastern Michigan (1-4, 0-1 MAC) on Saturday, October 4. The 2:00pm contest is Eastern Michigan's homecoming game. The Bobcats (1-3, 0-1 MAC) face the hard working, BCS beating Huskies from Northern Illinois (4-0, 0-0 MAC) on Saturday as well.

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