Seniors ruled the first quarter of Saturday’s Ohio Athletic Conference contest between John Carroll University and Otterbein University, but one sophomore dominated the rest of the game.
Otterbein’s Kevan Green and John Pyles helped the Cardinals rush to a 13-0 lead on Senior Day in Westerville, but JCU sophomore Ro Golphin scored four touchdowns to lead the Blue Streaks to a 42-13 victory.
With the win, the Blue Streaks advance to 8-1 overall, 7-1 in OAC play, heading into Saturday’s critical contest versus the University of Mount Union at Don Shula Stadium. The Purple Raiders carry a perfect 9-0 overall mark, 8-0 in OAC play, entering the regular season finale.
Following touchdowns by Green and Pyles, Otterbein held all the cards early in the second quarter. Junior Marshall Howell broke the spell for JCU, returning an Otterbein kickoff 43 yards to the 50-yard line. Sophomore Stan Elad II capped off the ensuing 11-play drive with a two-yard touchdown.
The JCU defense matched Elad’s contribution with a big play on the Otterbein’s next offensive play. Senior Andy Bryan stepped in front of a Green pass, dashing 14 yards to the Otterbein 18-yard line on the interception return. Golphin did the rest of the work. The sophomore running back picked up all 18 yards on four carries, tying the game at 13 with a 2-yard touchdown run. Sophomore Jake Vivonetto granted JCU the lead by nailing the extra point.
The Blue Streaks would never relinquish the lead.
Otterbein tried to respond on its next drive, but the Cardinals quickly ran out of momentum. Head coach Tim Doup opted to keep his offense on the field for a 4th and 1 from the Otterbein 49. The decision led to an unsuccessful conversion, and on the next play, Golphin galloped for a 49-yard touchdown.
The score remained 21-13, in favor of JCU, heading into halftime, as the teams exchanged punts and Otterbein missed a 42-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter.
The Blue Streaks came out firing in the third quarter. The JCU defense forced a three-and-out, and the offense wore out Otterbein with a 13-play, 65-yard drive ending in a 6-yard touchdown pass from senior Jake Schaefer to wideout Nico James.
Following a combined three punts, the Blue Streaks carried a 28-13 lead into the final stanza.
The fourth quarter began on a happy note for the Blue and Gold. On the fourth play of the period, Golphin struck again. Schaefer lofted a pass to Golphin in the flat, who worked his magic on a 19-yard touchdown reception. Golphin used his blockers and juked several would-be tacklers en route to a touchdown that finished off the Cardinals.
Otterbein’s next two drives resulted in an interception by JCU senior Jared Donovan and a turnover on downs. JCU’s final drive ended in Golphin’s fourth and final touchdown of the day, a two-yard score that set the final score at 42-13.
In addition to his four scores, Golphin finished with 145 yards, marking the fourth consecutive game the Cleveland native has surpassed the century mark.
“The game against Mount Union every year means a little something extra,” Golphin said. “With their success, it makes our team come out with a purpose and it puts fire in our hearts. Last year, we were so close and this year we are even hungrier to take them down.”