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Rourke scores 3 more rushing touchdowns in Ohio win

Bobcats amass 335 yards on the ground against Falcons

BOWLING GREEN – Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke continued to make plays with his legs.

Rourke rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Bobcats to a 48-30 victory against Bowling Green Saturday at Doyt Perry Stadium.

A.J. Ouellette added 123 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, and Dorian Brown added 71 yards on 10 carries as Ohio (5-2, 2-1 Mid-American Conference) racked up 335 yards rushing to more than make up for Rourke’s 7-of-22 passing performance for 105 yards.

"Nathan gives us an added dimension as a quarterback," Ohio coach Frank Solich said. "That is huge for us. There are obviously teams that have that, but there's a lot of teams that don't have that. When you put him into the running game, it gives you a chance for a lot of things to happen."

Ohio’s pass defense also was key, limiting Bowling Green quarterback James Morgan to 16-of-41 passing for 182 yards and a touchdown with one interception – returned by Brad Ellis for his second pick-six of the year.

Bowling Green (1-6, 1-2 MAC) hung tough, taking a 23-21 lead on Hunter Folkertsma’s 10-yard touchdown catch from Morgan with 3:41 left in the third quarter. But on Ohio’s next offensive play, Rourke followed blockers down the left sideline for a 75-yard touchdown to put the Bobcats ahead for good.

"You would think that they would have someone covering the quarterback," Rourke said. "We were trying to exploit that. Everyone's eyes were on the running back and I was able to walk in. I had good blocks downfield from Cam (Odom) and Dorian (Brown)."

Ohio’s defense followed with a stop, and Rourke then hit Andrew Meyer for a 40-yard touchdown pass to make it 34-23.

Quentin Poling stripped Morgan, and the Bobcats recovered, and that led to an Ouellette 2-yard touchdown run that made it 41-23 with 11:02 remaining.

The Falcons used a 69-yard Morgan completion to Scott Miller to set up an Andrew Clair 1-yard touchdown run and then forced a punt, but the Bobcats forced a turnover on downs with 7:16 to go and then got a Rourke 1-yard touchdown run with just 1:55 to go to put the game away.

Bowling Green controlled the game in the first quarter but settled for a pair of Jake Suder field goals – a 42-yarder and a 34-yarder – and took just a 6-0 lead.

Finally, after only one first down on their first four possessions, the Bobcats got points thanks to a short field when Poling recovered a Josh Cleveland fumble forced by Chad Moore. Ouellete scored on a 6-yard run to put Ohio ahead 7-6 on the first play of the second quarter.

Bowling Green responded with a Clair 3-yard touchdown run to go back in front as the teams traded the lead for most of the second and third quarters. Ellis’ 15-yard interception return after Michael Farkas’ punt was downed at the 3-yard line moved Ohio back in front, 14-13.

Rourke’s second interception led to a Suder 32-yard field goal, but he responded by leading a late first-half drive that included a 36-yard completion to Meyer and was capped by a 7-yard Rourke touchdown, making it 21-16 before the break.

Meyer had 84 of Ohio’s 105 receiving yards on three catches.

Clair led Bowling Green with 148 yards on 18 carries, and Cleveland finished with 34 yards on 22 attempts. Miller made six catches for 95 yards.

On defense, Javon Hagan and Evan Croutch both made 11 tackles, and Quentin Poling had 10, including two for loss. The Bobcats forced four turnovers a game after losing four of them in a home loss to Central Michigan.

"We knew we had to be serious," Poling said. "We had played horrendously the last two times here. We had a lot to prove to ourselves. Coming off of a loss, we made turnovers a big part of practice, just attacking and protecting the ball."

Despite sharing time at quarterback early in the season, Rourke has 12 rushing touchdowns this year, is among the nation’s leaders in that category and already has the seventh-most in a season for Ohio.

Ohio returns home for the first of three straight home games when it takes on Kent State at 2 p.m. Saturday at Peden Stadium.

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