Sebastian Smith (6) attempts to make a catch against Buffalo at Peden Stadium on Nov. 3. (FILE)
The Ohio offense didn’t play nearly as well as it should have against Akron on Tuesday night.
But even with a Mid-American Conference Championship Game berth on the line, Ohio’s offense didn’t necessarily need to play its best.
Kicker Louie Zervos and the Ohio (8-4, 6-2 MAC) defense rescued the offense, as Zervos’ three field goals helped Ohio defeat Akron (5-7, 3-5 MAC), 9-3. Ohio secured its first East Division title since 2011.
“The game shouldn’t have been quite as tight, but I give a lot of credit to Akron and their staff,” coach Frank Solich said after the game.
Ohio’s first drive of the game was concerning, especially considering Tuesday’s game was the last one of the regular season. Keeping the ball for almost nine minutes, the offense took 15 plays to only move 57 yards. Ohio turned the ball over on downs.
The game was reminiscent of Ohio’s game against Tennessee in September. The offense didn’t produce, and Zervos kicked four field goals in the first half. Ohio lost to Tennessee 28-19.
Zervos led the MAC in field goals with 22 heading into Tuesday’s game. Zervos tied the NCAA record for most field goals kicked by a freshman.
“I thought it would come down to a field goal at the beginning of the game,” Zervos said after the Akron win. “That’s what my mindset always is. I was ready for it, but I didn’t think it was going to be all field goals.”
With a conference title berth on the line, the offense picked the worst time to be conservative.
Redshirt quarterback Quinton Maxwell played fine but not flawless. Maxwell went 14-of-25, completing 56 percent of his passes for 169 yards. His stats were not representative of his performance. Maxwell didn’t look sharp in the pocket — whether it was overthrowing receivers or being tentative in general.
“We executed really well at times, just when we needed to,” he said. “I didn’t execute as well as I needed to in certain situations. That especially hurt us. But a win is a win, no matter how ugly it is.”
Solich said the Bobcats would need to play better after the Central Michigan game. With a championship berth on the line, everyone would need to step up.
Ohio’s performance against Akron didn’t stand out, but it resulted in a win — a win that earned the Bobcats a spot in the MAC Football Championship Game.
Ohio will play Western Michigan in the the MAC Championship at 7 p.m. Friday in Detroit.
“So we are going to come into this week, try to have a great week of practice and try to fix the mistakes we made in this game and make sure they don’t happen in Detroit,” Maxwell said.