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Ouellette, Cope help Bobcats bounce back

Ohio extends Kansas' road misery with 42-30 victory

Lonnie McMillan Photo
ATHENS – A.J. Ouellette and Brendan Cope looked like their pre-injury selves, and Ohio’s offense was explosive in a fairly dominant 42-30 victory against Kansas on Saturday at Peden Stadium.

Both players missed the majority of last season, and both put up more than 100 yards against one of the Power 5’s worst teams. The Bobcats scored the game’s first 18 points and maintained a comfortable lead throughout most of the game.

“It’s a good win for our guys,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said. “They bounced back from a difficult game (a 44-21 loss at Purdue). I’m pleased with what they got done today.”

Ouellette broke a 63-yard run on Ohio’s first offensive play and finished with 102 yards on just 10 carries, while Cope caught a 58-yard pass in the second quarter and finished with five receptions for 104 yards.

“It felt good,” Ouellette said. “I did my job, which was run behind the big boys. I think I broke maybe two tackles all game. The holes were wide open.”

Cope said he was thrilled to go against primarily man-to-man coverage, as opposed to the cover-3 the Bobcats saw the last two weeks.

Nathan Rourke also was sharp in his first start, completing 11-of-16 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. The starter the first two games this year, Quinton Maxwell came off the bench to go 5 of 6 for 102 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

It was Kansas’ 42nd straight road loss.

Ouellette’s big run led to a 41-yard Louie Zervos field goal to give Ohio (2-1) a 3-0 lead, and Rourke capped an 11-play, 64-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. The Bobcats used a trick play, with usual holder Michael Farkas throwing to long snapper Jake Hall, to complete a 2-point conversion that made it 11-0.

After Kansas turned the ball over on downs on Ohio’s 42-yard line, The Bobcats converted a third-and-11 with a 23-yard pass to Andrew Meyer before a 26-yard Dorian Brown run set up the first of two Troy Mangen touchdown catches – a 10-yarder from Rourke that made it 18-0 on the first play of the second quarter.

Khalil Herbert’s 56-yard touchdown run finally got Kansas on the board with 9:11 left in the first half, but Ohio came right back. Cope’s long reception was followed by a 9-yard Mangen touchdown catch to bring the score to 25-7.

Lonnie McMillan Photo
“There were things game plan wise that we thought we’d have a great shot of getting it to our tight end, especially down in red zone,” Solich said. “We had a couple other throws to tight ends that worked. We’re pleased to get them the ball because they are lost guys sometimes, although they’re called upon to block.”

The Jayhawks (1-2) gained some momentum with a long drive to end the half. They converted a pair of fourth downs before scoring on third-and-goal on a 9-yard Chase Harrell touchdown catch from Peyton Bender with eight seconds left in the half.

The Bobcats looked poised to score on their first drive of the second half. Cope caught a 17-yard pass to the Kansas 8, and a Jayhawks facemask penalty gave the Bobcats a first down on a third-and-goal play. Rourke’s helmet was broken on the play, though, and Maxwell threw an interception to Mike Lee on the next play.

But Ohio got it back one play later on Jalen Fox’s interception on a tipped pass. Four Ouellette carries later, the Bobcats were in the end zone to make it 32-14. Meyer’s 9-yard touchdown catch, originally ruled out of bounds with a bobble but overturned on replay, extended the advantage to 39-14 near the end of the third quarter.

Bender threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Booker, and they wound up cutting the lead further on their next possession. Cleon Aloese appeared to sack Bender in the end zone, but forward progress was called to keep two points off the board, and Kansas converted a third-and-17 on a penalty.

The Jayhawks went on to score a 34-yard Gabriel Rui field goal with 5:35 remaining, making it a two-touchdown game, 39-24.

Jerrid Marhelfka recovered an onside kick attempt, and the Bobcats iced the game with a 46-yard field goal from Zervos to make it a three-score game with just 2:13 remaining. It was set up on a 15-yard Meyer catch on a third-down play.

Kansas wound up scoring its final points on the game’s final play. Herbert scored on a 2-yard run as time expired.

Bender finished the game 30 of 47 for 343 yards and two touchdowns with one interception, and Herbert carried 19 times for 137 yards. But many of Kansas’ 451 yards came well after the game was decided. It was a major improvement by the defense from last week against Purdue.

“We simplified things a little bit,” Ohio linebacker Quentin Poling said. “We handled the pace much better this week. I took it on my shoulders when they were doing some pace stuff to get us set up on defense as opposed to trying to get a call in. We did a better job of getting lined up. That was the thing last week. We just found ourselves out of position.”

Despite being questionable to play after injuring his hip last week, Poling led the Bobcats with nine tackles.

Ohio also played without starting linebacker Chad Moore and backup linebacker Cody Grilliot, causing the Bobcats to play a nickel defense for much of the game. In terms of injuries this week, wide receiver Papi White suffered an injury that will keep him out two or three weeks, Solich said. Starting receiver Cam Odom also was injured but should not miss any further action.

With Odom and White missing much of the game, Meyer stepped up with five catches for 82 yards.
Aloese and Trent Smart had 1.5 sacks each.

Although Solich said he was impressed with Rourke in his first start, he also said Maxwell handled coming off the bench well and would not commit to one over the other for the future.

“We’ve got two quarterbacks that can play and win for us,” Solich said. “We got both of them a lot of snaps so that’s good. How we’ll work it from here on out, we’ll see. They both are certainly capable of getting snaps and winning for you. In saying that, you normally see how games go. We’ll take it week by week.”

Ohio begins Mid-American Conference play at 2 p.m. Saturday at Eastern Michigan.

Additional Coverage:
Photos  (BobcatAttack.com)
Boxscore  (Ohio Bobcats.com)

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