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Ohio scores 45 in 1st half of 52-10 blowout of Bowling Green

Led by Tuggle's 185, 3 TDs, Bobcats rush for 355 yards

ATHENS – Playing for the first time in 18 days, Ohio ran up a huge halftime lead and blew out Bowling Green 52-10 on Saturday at Peden Stadium.

De’Montre Tuggle ran 15 times for 185 yards and three touchdowns, and the Bobcats (2-1) scored a first-half touchdown on special teams and then nearly on defense as well in the blowout of the short-handed Falcons, who had multiple players suspended this past week.

"I thought it was a complete ball game by really the offense, defense, special team units. everyone. Good plays by all three of those units," Ohio coach Frank Solich said. "Obviously, that's what it takes in order to continue to have success in this conference. It's good to see it materialize the way it did out there today."

Kurtis Rourke completed 10 of 11 passes for 63 yards but he left the game late in the first half with a shoulder injury and did not return.

Tuggle scored on an 8-yard run on Ohio’s opening possession and then broke a 70-yard run for a touchdown the next time the Bobcats had the ball.

"It was great blocking from my line, that is all I can say," Tuggle said. "Great blocking by the receivers. They came pretty much on a blitz from both outsides and our line picked it up which was great. I was able to get through there and I wasn't even touched by the secondaries so, that's a testament to what my receivers are doing outside, handling their business."

After Nate Needham’s 32-yard field goal got the Falcons (0-4) on the board, Julian Ross, playing for the first time this season, returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards to make it 21-3 in the first quarter.

Bowling Green had its first touchdown pass to a wide receiver in almost two years when Matt McDonald found a wide open Javonte Kinsey for a 26-yard score early in the second quarter, but that was the highlight of the day for the Falcons.

Rourke threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Luehrman, and stopping Bowling Green at the 13-yard line on the kick return and then forcing a three-and-out, Ohio used excellent field position to set up another quick score. On his first play after replacing the injured Rourke, Armani Rogers ran in a 29-yard touchdown to make the score 35-10 with 1:54 left in the half.

But the Bobcats were far from done. After an Alvin Floyd interception, Rogers threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Luehrman, who made a grab over a defender’s helmet.

McDonald was hit from behind as he was throwing, the ball came free, and the loose ball was picked up and returned for a touchdown. Upon review, though, the play was ruled an incomplete pass. Tariq Drake almost had another defensive touchdown only a few plays later, picking off McDonald and then stumbling down at the 13-yard line with two seconds to go. Tristian Vandenberg hit a 30-yard field goal to make it 45-10 at halftime.

"They performed very well," Solich said. "Come out, make tackles. We got guys back there, Jett and Alvin that are just kind of ballhawks. They got a real good feel for the game. They break on balls and cover a lot of ground. They're physical players."

Bowling Green had its best opportunity of the second half on the opening possession, getting a 42-yard Andrew St. Clair run down to the Ohio 5-yard line, but it turned the ball over on downs. The Bobcats came back with a 96-yard drive capped by a Tuggle 43-yard touchdown run on his final carry of the day for the second half’s only points.

Jett Elad had a third-quarter interception for Ohio, but it did not produce any points as Vandenberg missed wide left from 43 yards on a field goal try.

"I'm just happy that I'm able to do the things I've been doing, and our defense is able to do the things they've been doing," Elad said. "I'm just blessed right now, and our defense is doing good and I couldn't be happier."

Ohio racked up 355 rushing yards, including 65 on eight carries by Rogers and 43 on just three carries by Rourke. Luehrman had five catches for 34 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the top receiving target on a day when three Bobcats quarterbacks combined to throw for just 81 yards, although they completed 13 of 15 attempts.

"I really feel good about our guys and what they got accomplished not only today on the field, but through this whole pandemic and how they handled it," Solich said. "Just continue to do the right things, make good decisions, and give ourselves the best chance to move forward with games in this conference."

Clair was one the lone bright spot for Bowling Green with 15 carries for 118 yards. McDonald was just 9 of 20 passing for 125 yards and three interceptions. Six of his completions were to tight end Quintin Morris for 69 yards.

Buffalo (4-0) visits Peden Stadium with a chance to clinch the Mid-American Conference East Division championship at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on CBS Sports Network. Ohio still can reach the title game if it beats the Bulls and then Kent State the following week.

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