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Ouellete, Ohio blow out Buffalo 52-17

Bobcats rack up 646 yards, force 5 turnovers

ATHENS – Buffalo committed five turnovers, A.J. Ouellette racked up 196 yards rushing as part of Ohio’s 646 yards of total offense and the Bobcats gave the Bulls their first Mid-American Conference loss of the season in blowout fashion, 52-17, on Wednesday night at Peden Stadium.

Buffalo scored first but Ohio rolled after that, building a 31-10 halftime lead that increased to 45-10 by the end of the third quarter.

The victory by the Bobcats (7-4, 5-2 MAC) kept the Bulls (9-2, 6-1 MAC) from clinching the MAC East just yet, though they remain in control, needing just a win against Bowling Green or an Ohio loss to Akron next Friday to lock up a spot in the league championship game.

Nonetheless, Ohio made a statement on both sides of the ball by dominating. One of the MAC’s top offensive teams, Buffalo was held to 277 yards. The Bobcats had a 32-13 advantage in first downs and held the ball for 43:42.

Ouellette scored three times, including twice on the ground, and quarterback Nathan Rourke was efficient as usual, going 17 of 26 for 209 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. He also ran seven times for 77 yards and a touchdown, while Maleek Irons rushed 12 times for 92 yards and a score. Ohio racked up 437 yards on the ground.

Tyree Jackson hit Anthony Johnson for a 48-yard gain that set up a Jackson 4-yard touchdown run that gave Buffalo an early 7-0 lead, but it was not a good day for Jackson or Buffalo after that.

Irons scored on a 2-yard run to tie the scored a 7, and Jackson was picked off by Kylan Nelson, leading to a Rourke 2-yard touchdown run. Then, after a Buffalo punt, Rourke hit Jerome Buckner for a 60-yard touchdown pass on a third-and-15 play to make it 21-7 in the first minute of the second quarter.

Jarren Hampton picked off Jackson on the ensuing possession, and that led to a Louis Zervos 22-yard field goal. Jackson broke a long run for 55 yards but Nelson forced a fumble at the end of the run, and Javon Hagan recovered. The Bobcats then put together a 96-yard drive, capped by an Ouellette 8-yard touchdown run to make it 31-7 with 53 seconds left in the half.

Adam Mitcheson kicked a 40-yard field goal as time expired to get Buffalo back to within three touchdowns, though it mattered little in the end.

Ouellette stayed on his feet along the sideline on a screen pass to score from 8 yards out on the opening possession of the third quarter, and after Buffalo went three and out, Rourke hit Papi White for a 27-yard touchdown pass to make it 45-10.

Rourke’s one mistake was late in the third quarter when he was intercepted by Khalil Hodge, who turned it back over to Ohio with a fumble forced by Joe Lowery and recovered by Roruke.

Aided by a pair of penalties Buffalo had its most successful drive of the game since the opener, getting a Kevin Marks 13-yard touchdown run with 13:14 to go.

Ouellette busted a 33-yard touchdown run for the game’s final points. Tariq Drake picked off Buffalo backup Dominic Johnson, and Ohio ran out the closing minutes on their final possession while moving all the way to the Buffalo 5-yard line.

Jackson finished just 9 of 21 passing for 116 yards with two interceptions. He added 70 yards on three carries. Johnson caught six passes for 95 yards. Marks had nine carries for 54 yards.

White had another big game for Ohio, making eight receptions for 84 yards. Andrew Meyer had four catches for 41 yards.

With the Bobcats’ defense on the field for only 45 plays, Evan Croutch led the way with five tackles.

Hodge and Brandon Williams had 11 tackles each for Buffalo.

Not only does Ohio need to win and have Buffalo lose next week, it also needs Miami to lose to Ball State on Tuesday in order to earn a spot in the MAC Championship Game. The RedHawks (5-6, 6-2 MAC) handed Northern Illinois its first conference loss, 13-7, on Wednesday night.

The Bobcats host the Zips at noon on Black Friday at Peden Stadium.

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