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Bobcats blow out Bulls, take MAC East lead

Rourke throws 5 more touchdown passes

ATHENS – Ohio moved atop the Mid-American Conference East standings with its fourth straight victory, a thorough 45-24 pounding of former MAC unbeaten Buffalo on Tuesday night at Frank Solich Field at Peden Stadium.

The Bobcats (6-3, 4-1 MAC) scored the first 17 points of the game, and although the Bulls (5-4, 4-1 MAC) cut the deficit to seven on a couple of occasions, Ohio answered each time and pulled away.

Kurtis Rourke more than made up for a pick-six by throwing five touchdown passes. He was 20-of-29 passing for 317 yards and rushed for another 52 yards. Sam Wiglusz and Miles Cross each caught a pair of touchdowns, with Wiglusz finishing his night with 131 yards on six receptions.

Ohio set the tone in the first quarter, not allowing a first down on three Buffalo possessions and scoring on all three of its own.

Wiglusz had a huge first half. He caught a 23-yard pass on Ohio’s first play from scrimmage and then capped the drive with a 16-yard touchdown reception. After Buffalo’s second punt of the game, the Bobcats settled for a Nathanial Vakos 37-yard field goal to make it 10-0.

While trying to convert a third-and-14, Buffalo quarterback Cole Snyder tried to throw across his body all the way to the opposite side of the field and was intercepted by Tariq Drake. A 32-yard completion to Wiglusz then set up a 5-yard scoring pass to Jones, making it 17-0 with 1:38 left in the first quarter.

Buffalo finally got things going on its fourth possession but only got a 28-yard Alex McNulty field goal out of it. Ohio opened its lead up to three touchdowns a short time later, with Rourke throwing a 49-yard completion to Wiglusz to set up a 5-yard scoring pass, again to Wiglusz, making it 24-3.

The Bulls made a game of it for a short while before the Bobcats put it away. Snyder threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Justin Marshall with just 20 seconds left in the half. Then to start the second half, Rourke made a rare mistake, getting picked off by Keyshawn Cobb, who returned it 26 yards for a touchdown to get Buffalo to within just one touchdown.

Rourke responded with another touchdown drive that included passes of 24 and 20 yards to Will Kacmarek. It concluded with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Cross.

A pair of penalties helped Buffalo get back within one score. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty converted a third down for the Bulls, and on fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard-line, Ohio was called for disconcerting signals for clapping, moving the ball to the 2. From there, a shovel pass from Snyder to Mike Washington was just good enough to get into the end zone to make it 31-24.

From there, though, the Bobcats took over again. Jones made a one-handed 43-yard catch and then followed with a 19-yard catch. A 1-yard touchdown run by Jake Neatherton early in the fourth quarter capped the drive.

Two players later, Snyder was sacked from behind by Kai Caesar, and Jack McCrory recovered. Two plays later, the Rourke’s final touchdown pass was a 9-yarder to Cross, making it 45-24.

Buffalo put up some yards on its final two drives but not points. The final one came to an end with a Robbie Mangus fumble forced by Alvin Floyd and recovered by Keye Thompson.

With Sieh Bangura out with an injury, Neatherton led Ohio in rushing with 52 yards on 12 carries.

Thompson led the defense by making 11 tackles. Bryce Houston had eight tackles, including two of the Bobcats’ six sacks.

Snyder finished the game 25-of-49 passing for 238 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Marshall caught six passes for 72 yards, while Quian Williams had six receptions for 64 yards.

Buffalo netted just 22 yards rushing on 28 carries as the Bobcats outgained the Bulls 474-260.

Ohio hits the road to take on Miami at a time to be determined Tuesday.

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