ODU on a redemption tour

Mark Znidar
mznidar@dispatch.com
Gus Dimmerling, left, and Ross Thompson combine to make a stop for Ohio Dominican against California (Pa.) last week. [Joe Maiorana/Ohio Dominican]

Ashland at Ohio Dominican

7 P.M., PANTHER STADIUM

Records: Ashland 0-1, Ohio Dominican 1-0

Series: Eagles lead 5-3.

Tawain Gordon and his teammates thought it wasn’t a matter of whether Ohio Dominican would make the Division II playoffs last season as much as which team they would play in the first round.

When the final team on the bracket was announced, the Panthers were stunned to find out they were sitting it out. They had just won the outright Great Midwest championship and defeated runner-up Findlay 49-24 in Week 10.

Findlay wound up going to the playoffs.

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“That really hit home,’’ safety Taiwan Gordon of Pickerington Central said. “We thought everything was mapped out in our favor. We were the champions and beat Findlay. We want to rally up and make sure that doesn’t happen again.’’

What cost Ohio Dominican were three losses to start the season, one of them 47-21 against former Great Lakes Conference rival Ashland.

The Panthers avenged the first loss in defeating California (Pa.) 28-23 last week with a stop on downs at their 15-yard line on the final possession. Ross Thompson deflected a pass on third down and Gordon did the same on fourth.

“That game gave us a lot of momentum starting the season 1-0 against a playoff type team,’’ Gordon said. “That last play is replaying in my head. I was locked in. They came firing down the field at us, but we practice that two-minute drill every day. It was a goal line fade to my side. I deflected the ball, saw it hit the ground and celebrated with my teammates.’’

Ashland will come to Panther Stadium having won three straight games in the series and angry after a 21-17 loss to Indiana (Pa.) in its opener.

“We knew coming in that by winning the G-MAC that there would be a target on our backs,’’ Gordon said. “Our coach, Kelly Cummings, gets us ready for these big games.’’

Gordon, a redshirt senior, has played in 32 games and started 20. Last season, he had 34 tackles and three interceptions.

“You are on the island, but our defensive coordinator (Ryan Manalac) says you are one of 11 and to just do your job,’’ Gordon said. “If I don’t do the job, I risk giving up a big play for our defense.’’

Gordon realizes this is his last go round.

“The seniors look around the room and remember how many freshmen were in our class,’’ he said. “Now, there are 10. I want to leave everything out there on the field.’’

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Miami University at Cincinnati

8 P.M., CINCINNATI

Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell praised his players to the hilt for traveling across the country to defeat UCLA 26-17 at the Rose Bowl before talking like someone who has 11 more games to play. “We’ve got a long way to go and I’m not saying we’re there,’’ he said. “You walk yourself right into a rivalry week.’’ The Bearcats (1-0) will be looking for their 13th straight victory in the series that will be played for the 123rd time. This game is at Paul Brown Stadium.

Maryland at Bowling Green

6 P.M., BOWLING GREEN

This matchup looked a lot better on paper when Bowling Green (0-1) won the first game of the contract 48-27 on its way to winning the Mid-American Conference championship in 2015. Last week, the Falcons were wiped out 58-24 by Oregon and Maryland (1-0) defeated Texas 34-29.

Youngstown State at West Virginia

6 P.M., MORGANTOWN, W.VA.

Youngstown State (0-1) gave West Virginia (1-0) all it could handle in ’16 before losing 38-21. The Penguins are coming off a 23-21 loss to Butler on a 44-yard field goal with four seconds left.

— Mark Znidar

mznidar@dispatch.com

@MarkZnidar