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Ohio strikes early, often in 55-34 homecoming win

Wiglusz scores on first play, Bobcats down Zips

ATHENS – Ohio scored on the first play from scrimmage and led the entire way in a 55-34 homecoming victory against Akron on Saturday at Peden Stadium.

Kurtis Rourke connected on a 75-yard touchdown pass to Sam Wiglusz on the first play, and it was a sign of things to come as Rourke finished the day 24-of-27 passing for 427 yards and three touchdowns, with seven of those completions and 144 of those yards to Wiglusz, who later scored a second touchdown.

"The first play of the game was the best way to start the game," Wiglusz said. "We got a couple plays that we know we were going to get a chance to call out if we got the right look. It could not have played out much better and it really got us off to a hot start, so it felt great."

Akron quarterback DJ Irons tried to match Rourke and did his best to keep the Zips in the game, finishing 43-of-54 passing for 418 yards, but it was not enough.

After an Akron turnover on downs, the Bobcats (3-3, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) extended their lead to 14-0 with a long drive that included a fourth-and-1 conversion before a Nolan McCormick 8-yard touchdown run.

The Zips were held to a Noah Perez 25-yard field goal following a long drive of their own, and the Bobcats made a 21-3 game with Sieh Bangura scoring the first of his four touchdowns on a 12-yard run.

Perez hit a 42-yard field goal for the Zips, and they finally got a stop on defense, holding Bangura to no gain on a fourth-and-1 at the Akron 17-yard line. Irons then scored on an 18-yard run to get the Zips back in it at 21-13 with just 41 seconds left in the half.

That was just enough time for Rourke and Ohio. He completed five straight passes, including a 26-yarder to Wiglusz to the Akron 1-yard line. Bangura took it from there on the last play of the half, and the extra point made it 28-13.

Akron hung around for a bit longer, though. Clyde Price III scored on a 4-yard touchdown run to make it a 28-20 game early in the third quarter, but the Zips had no answer for Rourke. He threw a 30-yard touchdown to Wiglusz and then a 25-yard touchdown pass to Bangura to push Ohio’s lead to 41-20.

Ohio’s defense then came up big with Bryce Houston sacking Irons and causing him to fumble. Jack McCrory picked it up and returned it 13 yards for another score that made it 48-20 with still 4:48 left in the third quarter. Houston finished with 3.5 tackles for loss.

Price III scored on a 3-yard run on the first place of the fourth quarter for the Zips and then scored again on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal with 5:24 left to make it 48-34.

The Bobcats put the game away with a 42-yard pass from Rourke to Jacoby Jones setting up a Bangura 6-yard touchdown run. Keye Thompson picked off Irons on Akron’s final possession.

Bangura finished with 90 yards rushing on 16 carries, while Jones had seven catches for 121 yards in Ohio’s 561-yard day.

"Unbelievable weekend; we were sold out for homecoming," Ohio coach Tim Albin said. "Really, our most complete game of the year without question."

While Price III scored three touchdowns, the Zips did not establish much of a running game, finishing with just 60 yards on the ground on 26 attempts.

Shocky Jacques-Louis (152 yards) and Daniel George (108 yards) both had 11 receptions from Irons.

Ohio hits the road to face Western Michigan at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on CBS Sports Network.

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