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Unsportsmanlike penalty on Ohio helps Central Michigan hold on

Chippewas spoil Bobcats' homecoming 30-27

ATHENS – An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty forced trailing Ohio to punt, and it did not get the ball back as the Bobcats suffered another homecoming loss to Central Michigan 30-27 on Saturday at Peden Stadium.

Daniel Richardson’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Kalil Pimpleton put the Chippewas on top with 3:55 remaining. On the ensuing drive, quarterback Armani Rogers threw incomplete to Isiah Cox, and displeased with no pass interference call, Ohio’s sideline was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, turning a fourth-and-2 into a fourth-and-17 from its own 18.

“We were going to go for it, and then the post-play penalty was called from the bench area,” Ohio coach Tim Albin said. “It is unfortunate, and I am disappointed and so was that person. That is not who he is, and it is a teachable moment for our football team. I know that young man is hurting but we must get it corrected and make sure it does not happen again."

Taking over with 2:34 remaining, Central Michigan (3-3, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) picked up just enough yards for a first down on its third-and-3 play, and that was enough to allow it to run out the remainder of the clock.

The Bobcats (1-5, 1-1 MAC) took the lead when Sieh Bangura broke away for a 40-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 play that was the first carry of his career. A conversion pass to Adam Luehrman made it 27-20.

"I am not surprised at all; he's the guy,” Albin said. “There is some really talented younger players that are getting a lot of playing time at this point of the season. Again, I was not surprised, and we knew he was going to play.”

Richardson connected with Pimpleton on a 26-yard completion that was upheld upon review and helped the Chippewas eventually get a 40-yard Marshall Meeder field goal to make it 27-23. Ohio punted on its next possession, leading to Central Michigan’s game-winning score.

“(Pimpleton) knew that he needed to make some plays and he's our guy, he's the heart and soul of this football team,” Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain said. “I tell you what I just love him. I thought he did a good, he stepped up and did some things well."

Tariq Drake’s second interception of Richardson on the opening drive of the first half led to a go-ahead touchdown for the Bobcats. De’Montre Tuggle scored on a 2-yard run, but Stephen Johnson’s extra point was off the mark, keeping the margin at 16-13.

Johnson connected on a 44-yard field goal on Ohio’s next possession, making it a six-point game. Pimpleton then tied the game with a 7-yard touchdown run, and the extra point put Central Michigan ahead 20-19.

Drake’s first interception halted Central Michigan’s opening drive but did not cost Central Michigan when Johnson missed a 47-yard field goal wide right. Lew Nichols broke off a 47-yard run on a third-and-1 play that led to his own 3-yard touchdown run to give the Chippewas a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

With 26 seconds left in the period, Johnson was good on a 29-yard field goal. In the second quarter, Nichols had another big run of 36 yards to lead to an answering field goal of 34 yards by Meeder, making it 10-3.

Another Meeder field goal with 34 seconds left in the half put Central Michigan back on top before the break after Rogers had tied the game at 10 with a 4-yard touchdown run.

Rogers was strong in his first start with Ohio, completing 13-of-18 passes for 190 yards and also rushing for 37 yards on 15 carries. Tuggle had 19 carries for 83 yards, and Cameron Odom caught four passes for 88 yards.

"I am very happy with Armani's performance today,” Albin said. “I want to watch the film. I know it is not perfect, but there are some good things to with the deep balls."

Nevertheless, Albin said both Rogers and Kurtis Rourke would play in the future, despite Rogers going the distance Saturday.

Richardson went 16-of-30 passing for 257 yards, completing five passes for 78 yards to Pimpleton and four for 91 yards to Dallas Dixon. Nichols’ big day included 186 yards on 30 carries.

"I'm proud of my defense, the way we fought – the way we battled, tackled,” Ohio linebacker Bryce Houston said. “It's just the small little plays at the end of the game that count.”

Ohio faces Buffalo on the road at noon Saturday.

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