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Defense leads Ohio to 27-10 win over LIU

Rourke, Wiglusz, Jones all sit out

ATHENS – With Kurtis Rourke sitting out after a first-quarter injury last week, Ohio turned to its defense to lead the way in a 27-10 victory against FCS opponent Long Island in its home opener Saturday at Peden Stadium.

The Bobcats (1-1) allowed just 206 yards of offense and did not allow the Sharks (0-1) to reach the end zone until the final quarter.

CJ Harris started in place of Rourke, and Parker Navarro, who suffered an injury last season also played, even though Ohio coach Tim Albin said this week that he expected Rourke to play. The Bobcats did not need him in this one.

Offensively, though, it was Sieh Bangura who carried the load with 19 carries for 107 yards. O’Shaan Allison carried 13 times, though he managed only 27 yards, and the Bobcats ran it 45 times total while passing just 15 times.

After LIU’s Michael Coney missed a 31-yard field goal on the game’s opening possession, Gianni Spetic gave Ohio the lead by making a kick from 24 yards out. Harris threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Walton early in the second quarter, and the Bobcats led 10-0.

It was Navarro’s turn after that on a short field following a fourth-and-1 stop by Keye Thompson and Vonnie Watkins. Navarro threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Butler to make it 17-0.

The Bobcats had a chance to add to their lead before the break, but instead Bangura fumbled near midfield, and that helped the Sharks get their only points of the first half on a Coney field goal from 41 yards out, making it a 17-3 game.

Navarro hit Mason Williams for a 32-yard touchdown to begin the second half, putting the Bobcats in full control with a 17-point lead. Later in the third quarter, a Bryce Houston interception set up a Spetic 25-yard field goal for Ohio’s final points and a 27-3 lead.

LIU scored its only touchdown after it was given a short field on an Eric O’Neill interception of Navarro. Luca Stanzani connected with Davon Wells for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 6:21 remaining.

Both Ohio quarterbacks were effective, though not dynamic like Rourke, against a lower-level opponent. Navarro was 5-of-7 passing for 60 yards and ran six times for 34 yards, while Harris was 7-of-8 passing for 44 yards and had four carries for 28 yards.

Top receivers Sam Wiglusz and Jacoby Jones also sat out, a second missed game this year for Jones. Walton led the way with four receptions for 36 yards.

Stanzani was 21-of-33 passing for 172 yards for the Sharks, but he threw two interceptions and was sacked three times. LIU managed just 34 yards rushing on 22 carries.

Houston finished the day with 11 tackles, including two for loss, with one sack and one interception.

Ohio hits the road to face FAU at 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN+.

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