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Koback too much for Ohio in 35-23 loss

Toledo RB goes over 200 yards with 4 TDs

ATHENS – Ohio’s defense could not stop Bryant Koback, and its offense could not finish drives until late. The result was its first multiple-score Mid-American Conference loss in more than six years, 35-23, on Tuesday night at Peden Stadium.

Koback ran for 203 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries as the Rockets (6-5, 4-3 MAC) became bowl eligible. The Bobcats racked up 445 yards but managed only three field goals before a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.

"There were a lot of big plays by them," Ohio coach Tim Albin said. "We had opportunities in the first half, but we had two holding penalties, a penalty on the kickoff return for touchdown, a personal foul facemask on defense in the first half. Our defense played well enough to get us to 14-6. It was a one-score game, and we challenged them at halftime. We got the ball in the third quarter and got some points out of it and then they got some huge plays."

Ohio’s last loss by more than one touchdown in league play was a 62-24 defeat Nov. 4, 2015, at Bowling Green.

After a slow start by Toledo’s offense, Koback’s first touchdown run came from 8 yards out and gave the Rockets a 7-3 lead with 9:07 left in the first half. He added a 4-yard touchdown run to make it 14-3 about five minutes later, and with 4:27 to go in the third quarter, he broke through the line on a fourth-and-1 play for a 55-yard scoring run that put Toledo up 21-9.

"He is a tremendous player; he has been for a long time here," Toledo coach Jason Candle said. "He made some big explosive runs and picked up some tough yards in a game when safeties run blocking down there and meet him at the line of scrimmage. I am really proud of his effort and proud of how we ran the football tonight."

Dequan Finn hit Matt Landers in stride for an 85-yard touchdown pass to make it a 28-9 game, and with 10:43 left in the game, after a muffed punt by JJ Conner, Koback scored on a 13-yard run for a 35-9 advantage.

"On the long pass, it's a No. 1 passing concept," Albin said. "Everybody runs it. That's the first look and that transfer from Georgia is just a really good player; he doesn't have a lot of catches and he's gotten off to a slow start, but the last two or three games I think he's starting to come on."

The Bobcats’ scoring chances were plentiful. They turned the ball over on downs at the Toledo 29-yard line when Armani Rodgers was stuffed for no gain on a fourth-and-2 play in the first quarter and settled for a Stephen Johnson 34-yard field goal with 10:42 left in the second quarter. De’Montre Tuggle had a 96-yard kickoff return following Toledo’s first touchdown negated by a penalty.

Ohio (3-8, 3-4 MAC) managed its second field goal with a drive that began with just 1:05 left in the first half. Rourke scrambled for 18 yards on a third-and-15 play to stop the clock with six seconds left, and after a spike, Johnson connected from 41 yards out to draw the Bobcats to within a touchdown at 14-6.

Despite converting a pair of fourth downs, Ohio managed just a field goal on the opening drive of the second half. A trick play pass from punter Jonah Wieland to tight end Ryan Luehrman went for 20 yards and a first down, and Rourke threw to Tuggle for an 11-yard gain on a fourth-and-5 play. Faced with a fourth-and-1 at the Toledo 14-yard line, the Bobcats elected for a Johnson 32-yard field goal that made the score 14-9.

Even after Toledo extended its lead to 19 points, Ohio had a chance to get back in it, but a good drive stalled out at the 8-yard-line, and following a bad hold, Johnson missed a 25-yard field goal off the goalpost a minute into the fourth quarter.

The Bobcats finally found the end zone after they fell behind 35-9. After a 5-yard touchdown pass to Ty Walton was wiped out by an offensive pass interference call, Ohio used Toledo penalties to its advantage and scored on a Sieh Bangura 4-yard run with 4:29 left.

Tristian Vandenberg’s onside kick took a perfect bounce fielded by Ben Johnson to give Ohio possession again, and the Bobcats cashed in on a great catch by Chase Coakley in the back corner of the end zone with 2:07 remaining.

Vandenberg’s next onside kick try was not nearly so successful. Landers fielded it cleanly and returned it all the way to the Ohio 17. The Bobcats had all three timeouts remaining but instead let the Rockets run out the clock.

Rourke finished 22-of-36 passing for 233 yards and a touchdown but was sacked five times. Isiah Cox caught four passes for 65 yards while also rushing twice for 37 yards. Tuggle finished with 13 carries for 64 yards and four catches for 33 yards.

Finn threw the ball just 14 times for the Rockets, completing 10 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown.

Ohio finishes its season with a game against Bowling Green at noon Nov. 26 at Doyt Perry Stadium on CBS Sports Network.

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