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Interceptions key Ohio's first win against Iowa State

Bobcats knock off Cyclones 10-7 at Peden Stadium

ATHENS – Even a Big 12 offense was no match for Ohio’s defense.

Iowa State was shut out until less than five minutes remained as Ohio took a 10-7 victory Saturday at Peden Stadium.

The Bobcats (3-1) struggled offensively, but turned an interception into their only touchdown and then got another pick to seal the game late. Ohio has given up just 47 points this year and allowed just 38 net rushing yards to the Cyclones (1-2).

"We asked them to raise the bar, and in a tie game when it's on the line, who's going to be the smartest? Who's going to have the most discipline and do the things?" Ohio coach Tim Albin said. "We've got expectations and goals for the season and a plan on how to get those. Turnovers, field position and Ohio doesn't beat Ohio. Finally four games into it, we got that done."

After a scoreless first half, Torrie Cox Jr. intercepted Iowa State freshman quarterback Rocco Becht on the second play of the third quarter, returning the ball to the Iowa State 23-yard line. Kurtis Rourke converted a third down with an 11-yard scramble and then threw a 5-yard third-and-goal touchdown pass to Sam Wiglusz for the game’s first points.

With Ohio leading 10-7 late, Roman Parodie batted a Becht pass back toward the line of scrimmage, where defensive lineman Rodney Mathews was able to intercept it with 2:13 remaining. With the Cyclones out of timeouts, the Bobcats were just able to kneel out the game by running several seconds off on each play.

"Nobody was panicked at halftime with the score, and the defensive efforts kept us in it at halftime," Albin said.

Each team missed field goals in the first half. Iowa State’s Chase Conteraz missed wide from 47 yards on the first play of the second quarter, and Ohio’s Gianni Spetic was no good from 42 yards on the next possession.

Spetic was good on a much shorter kick – from 27 yards – with 13:58 remaining in the game to give Ohio a 10-0 advantage. Contreraz missed from 37 yards out on Iowa State’s ensuing possession, with the ball being ruled wide again as it sailed over the right upright with 7:23 to play.

That proved to be important because after a three-and-out by Ohio, the Cyclones scored quickly. After a pass interference penalty, Becht hit Daniel Jackson for a 39-yard gain and then threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Jayden Higgins, making it a three-point game with 4:15 remaining.

Once again, the Bobcats were quick to punt, giving the Cyclones one last chance, but the defense rose to the challenge with its second forced turnover.

Iowa State’s defense was just as strong, and it stood late in the first half on one of Ohio’s best drives when time ran out on a Rourke heave to the end zone from the Iowa State 42-yard line. The Bobcats possibly could have been closer, but a long gain on a nearly incredible catch by Jacoby Jones – despite pass interference – was overturned by replay.

Rourke was playing just his second full game of the season after missing the end of last season with a knee injury and then most of the first two games this year as well. He still did not look entirely like himself, finishing 16-of-312 passing for 135 yards, but he several times made key plays on scrambles, netting 58 yards rushing on seven carries.

Wiglusz made five receptions for 53 yards in his second game back from an injury, and in the same situation, Jones had two catches for 42 yards. Sieh Bangura rushed 14 times for 44 yards, with O’Shaan Allison carrying 13 times for 36 yards. The Bobcats netted just 247 yards of offense.

Most of the yards the Cyclones managed were through the air, with Becht going 17-of-24 passing for 233 yards. Jackson made three catches for 65 yards.

Iowa State was held to 38 yards rushing – 31 of those from Becht. Opponents so far this season have averaged only 57.8 yards per game and 2.5 yards per carry.

Linebacker Bryce Houston has been a big reason why and was again Saturday with 15 tackles.

"It's a big win," Houston said. "It's a huge win for the program, huge win for the school and for the Athens community to have that camaraderie. Having that love, and still being undefeated on The Frank, we take that personally, so we're just really happy and excited to be back."

It was the first victory for Ohio against Iowa State in nine attempts over the years and the first over a Power 5 opponent since a 42-30 victory against Kansas in 2017. The Bobcats improved to 8-0 on Frank Solich Field since it was dedicated at the start of last season.

The Bobcats begin Mid-American Conference play with a trip to Bowling Green at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN+.

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