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Rourke's late touchdown pass, Hagan's interception help Ohio top Kent State

Bobcats rally from early 14-0 deficit with best defensive game this year

Lonnie McMillan Photo
KENT – Nathan Rourke’s 8-yard touchdown run with 1:28 completed an Ohio comeback, and Javon Hagan’s interception sealed it as Ohio rallied to get coach Frank Solich’s 100th win with the Bobcats, 27-26, on Saturday at Dix Stadium.

For the fourth time this year, the Bobcats (3-2, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) fell in an early hole, giving up a pair of early touchdowns, but the previously struggling defense held the Golden Flashes (1-5, 0-2 MAC) to four field goals the rest of the way while the offense did enough in the end.

While Ohio’s defense put together its best game of the season, the offense was held under 30 points for the first time this year. Yet when the Bobcats needed it most, Rourke led three straight touchdown drives.

"This was a tough one," Solich said. "If they'd all been like this, I'm not sure I'd made it to 100. But I feel good about what the program has been able to accomplish over the last 14 years."

Rourke had the most efficient passing game of his career, going 18 of 20 for 284 yards and a touchdown. He added 49 yards rushing, including some key scrambles on the game-winning drive.

Down 26-21 following Matthew Trickett’s fourth field goal, a 28-yarder with 5:12 to go, Rourke went to work. He completed a 13-yard pass to Andrew Meyer to convert a third-and-5, and a 5-yard scramble and a 15-yard personal foul late hit added to the play moved the Bobcats to the Golden Flashes’ 43-yard line.

Rourke hit Cameron Odom for a 16-yard gain, and after a sack, a screen pass to A.J. Ouellette netted 20 yards for a first down. Ouellette ran for 6 yards before Rourke’s touchdown run gave Ohio its first lead. Rourke came up just shy of the goal line and injured his shoulder on a two-point conversion try.

With 1:28 remaining and two timeouts left, Kent State still had a shot. A first-down penalty advanced the Golden Flashes to the their own 40, and they converted a third-and-6 with a Woody Barrett 9-yard pass to Isaiah McKoy, moving across midfield and needing only a field goal.

But it fell apart form there. A pass to Antwan Dixon lost 2 yards, and a false start penalty not only backed Kent State up 5 more yards, it also resulted in a 10-second runoff to bring the clock to 30 seconds. Woody then tried to go deep but Hagan came over for the game-clinching interception.

Ohio’s defense looked like it would struggle, especially against the pass, as it had done all season with an awful first seven minutes. Woody connected with McCoy for a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage, and after a punt, Woody threw a third-and-goal 1-yard touchdown pass to Mike Carrigan to make it 14-0 just 6:24 into the game.

Ouellette scored on a 1-yard run to get Ohio on the board on its second drive, but that was all the points the offense managed until its final three drives, due largely to its own mistakes.

Lonnie McMillan Photo
Marlin Brooks picked off a Woody pass on the next drive and returned the ball across midfield but fumbled it back to the Golden Flashes at the end of the play.

Then early in the second quarter, Brooks recovered a fourth-down fumble by Woody at the Ohio 48, but after a 21-yard pass to Papi White, Rourke was picked off by Nick Faulkner.

The Bobcats’ final drive of the first half resulted in a Rourke fumble at the Kent State 20 on a fourth-and-1 after Ouellette was stuffed for no gain on third-and-1.

It left just enough time for the Golden Flashes to set up Trickett’s first field goal, a 49-yarder on the final play of the first half, making it 17-7.

An Ouellette fumble stopped a promising drive to begin the second half. Ohio trailed 20-7 following Trickett’s 39-yard field goal with 9:33 remaining.

Ohio drew within six on Rourke’s 59-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Meyer with 6:32 left in the third quarter. Trickett kicked a 38-yard field goal with 1:11 to go in the third, making it 23-14, before the Bobcats got within two on Ouellette’s 5-yard touchdown run with 12:45 left in the game.

Kent State used more than seven minutes of the clock but ultimately settled for a field goal that gave Rourke and the Bobcats the final chance they needed. Hagan had a third-down interception negated on a Brooks pass interference call. The Golden Flashes converted a pair of third-and-1 plays and advanced inside Ohio’s 10 before being Trickett’s 28-yard field goal.

"We're still looking to play that complete game," Rourke said. "Once we play that complete game, we'll be very dangerous."

With Maleek Irons sitting out with a minor injury, Ouellette had 18 carries for 72 yards. White had five catches for 89 yards, while Meyer’s four receptions were good for 90 yards.

Barrett went 27 of 35 passing for 271 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions and added 61 yards rushing. Justin Rankin gained 123 yards on 16 carries. McCoy had eight catches for 118 yards.

Defensively, Eric Croutch made 11 tackles, including 1.5 for loss. Hagan had 10 tackles in addition to his interception.

Ohio hits the road again next week, facing Northern Illinois at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Additional Coverage:
Box score  (Ohio Bobcats.com)
Photos  (BobcatAttack.com)

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