Ohio#039;s win over Kentucky gets Marshall#039;s attention

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Associated Press

The Ohio Bobcats certainly have Marshall's attention now.

Last week's 28-16 upset of Kentucky has buoyed the Bobcats' hopes and all but prevented opponents from looking past them.

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''Whenever you dominate an SEC team, then you are doing something well,'' Marshall coach Bob Pruett said.

The Bobcats (3-2, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) exceeded their win total from last year with the stunner in Kentucky that left the home fans booing at the finish.

''(The bus ride) was a lot better than some of those other ones, I can tell you that,'' coach Brian Knorr said.

It was one of the biggest wins ever for Ohio, which came into the season having won only seven games in Knorr's first three seasons in Athens.

Scott Mayle caught touchdown passes of 44 and 89 yards to lead the way as the Bobcats beat a team from a BCS conference for the first time since topping Minnesota in 2000. Other than a win over Maryland in 1997, Ohio had not defeated a major-conference opponent since Northwestern in 1973.

In addition, the Bobcats had lost their last 10 road games.

''For us, it just gives us some confidence,'' Knorr said. ''We had won two games before, but to go out and win on the road before 60-some-thousand people gave us some confidence going into the tough part of our season.''

That part begins with Marshall (1-3, 1-0), which is coming off an impressive 33-25 victory last week against Miami (Ohio).

The Thundering Herd have won six of the last seven meetings with the Bobcats. The game is referred to as the Battle for the Bell.

''We are going to have to go up there, play for the bell and it will be a battle between two good football teams,'' Pruett said.

The schools are separated by just 65 miles. Many of the players have friends or former teammates on the other team. Even though Marshall is leaving the MAC to join Conference USA next season, both sides are close to signing a contract to ensure the rivalry will continue.

Mayle is a prime example of the split loyalties. He is a sophomore wide receiver from Philippi, W.Va., who broke a lot of hearts back in his home state with his career day. In addition to making four catches for 157 yards, he also led the Bobcats in rushing with 52 yards on five end-around plays.

''He's a good player,'' Pruett said. ''He got away and I wish he hadn't.''

Knorr said his players are still wired about the big victory in Lexington, but that they haven't lost sight of the imposing figures of the Thundering Herd.

''We had gone in (to the Kentucky game) with the approach that regardless of what happened at Kentucky we were stepping out of conference and the next week we were stepping right in with the heavyweights,'' Knorr said. ''Certainly our kids are excited. They're buzzing about being able to go down and beat Kentucky. I think they're grounded in that they realize the tough task ahead.''

In other games around the MAC on Saturday, Bowling Green visits Central Michigan, Kent State is at Miami (Ohio), Eastern Michigan at Ball State, Buffalo at Akron, Northern Illinois at Central Florida and Toledo at Western Michigan.