COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With preseason camp over, Ohio Dominican's football team kicks off its 10th year with a matchup at Georgetown (Ky.) College, the sixth-ranked team in the NAIA ranks.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Georgetown's Toyota Field on Thursday, Sept. 5. It will be the first Thursday night game in school history and the first matchup between the two teams.
The Panthers return 47 letterwinners and 21 players who started at least one game from last year's 8-3 team. For a second straight season, ODU was projected to finish in second in the GLIAC South Division, accoding to the conference coaches' preseason poll. For the first time since joining the Division II ranks in 2010, the Panthers are picking up votes in the AFCA Top 25 poll as well.
After suffering three early losses to top-25 teams in 2012, ODU won the final five games of the 2012 regular season by an average of 33.2 points per game, scoring at least 31 points in each ballgame.
The Panthers would wind up the season ranked highly in several national statistical categories, including scoring offense (40.8 points per game, 12th), rushing offense (244.9 yards per game, 13th) and sacks allowed (six, 5th). ODU was also in the top-30 in the country in total offense, passing efficiency, total defense and scoring defense.
ODU ran for a school-record 2,694 yards last season, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and rushing for 34 touchdowns, which were also school records. The Panther offense also hit big plays through the air, averaging a school-record 15.2 yards per completion.
The Panthers return their top four rushers from last season (Brandon Schoen, Mark Nichols, Ronnel Spates and Mark Miller), as well as their quarterback (Miller)and top two pass catchers (Abe Johnson and Ronald McCloud).
The defense also matured as the year progressed, as in its final 18 quarters of football, spanning four and a half games, ODU's defense stifled the opposition, limiting its foes to 49 total points in that stretch.
• The Panthers graduated a trio of four-year starters on the offensive line, including all-conference selections Tyler White and Andrew Carpenter. Last year's line made a combined 164 starts in their collegiate careers. Jake Brandt enters his fourth year as a starter and Perrin Cunningham started all 11 games last season, but three new faces will join the unit this season.
• New defensive coordinator Kelly Cummings takes over a unit that ranked amongst the GLIAC's best last season. The Panthers were second in scoring defense, third in rushing defense and led the conference in pass efficiency defense.
• ODU is 6-3 all-time in season openers. This is the first road opener for the Panthers since 2008, when ODU defeated Marian (Ind.) 70-7 in Indianapolis. Marian won the NAIA national title last season.
• The last meeting against an NAIA opponent was on Sept. 19, 2009, a 23-16 loss at Walsh. The last time the Panthers defeated a ranked NAIA team was Nov. 15, 2008, when ODU took down No. 13 Malone in the season finale.
• The Panthers are 5-0 all-time against foes from Kentucky, including a 4-0 mark against Campbellsville and a 1-0 record against Cumberlands. ODU's last game in the state of Kentucky was Sept. 13, 2008, a 50-14 win at Campbellsville.
• ODU is 3-7 in night games all-time (1-3 road). The lone road night win came Oct. 17, 2012 at Notre Dame (45-7).
ALL OHIO DOMINICAN FOOTBALL GAMES LIVE ON THE RADIO AND INTERNET
Fans in Central Ohio can listen to Ohio Dominican football LIVE on the radio on 820 AM (St. Gabriel Radio) and simulcast online everywhere at www.pressboxproductions.net. This week's broadcast starts at 6:45 p.m. with the Panther Countdown Pregame Show. Veteran broadcaster Todd Bell returns for his sixth year in the booth as the play-by-play announcer and is joined by Matt Natali.
CONTACT: Scott Miles