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Wiglusz has career game as Ohio tops Western Michigan 20-17

Bobcats remain unbeaten at Frank Solich Field

ATHENS – Slowed by injuries early in the year, Sam Wiglusz broke out with a career-high 155 receiving yards while making what ultimately was the game-winning touchdown in a 20-17 Ohio victory against Western Michigan on Saturday at Peden Stadium.

Wiglusz made a running catch of a pass from Kurtis Rourke, taking one step along the left side of the end zone before his momentum carried him out of bounds. That 7-yard touchdown catch gave the Bobcats a 20-10 lead with 4:36 remaining.

“We caught Tampa 2, and it was a great throw by Kurtis,” Ohio coach Tim Albin said.

With the victory, the Bobcats (6-2, 3-1 Mid-American Conference) clinched bowl eligibility and kept pace with Miami in the East Division ahead of a huge showdown next weekend.

Wiglusz finished the day with 10 catches on 14 targets by Rourke, who shrugged off last week’s three interceptions by going 24-of-39 passing for 275 yards and no turnovers.

Though both teams moved the ball in the first half, there were few points to show for it, with the Bobcats leading just 6-0. That changed in the second half, and Ohio finished the day with 460 yards of offense.

Gianni Spetic missed a 40-yard field goal wide left to begin the second half, preventing Ohio from adding to its lead.

After missing two attempts of his own in the first half, Palmer Domschke got Western Michigan (2-6, 1-3 MAC) on the board on the next possession with a 43-yard field goal. It was set up by a 49-yard completion from Hayden Wolff to Jalen Buckley.

Rourke had a 25-yard run, while Western Michigan was called for a couple of penalties that aided the Bobcats in scoring the game’s first touchdown with 2:36 left in the third quarter. Sieh Bangura scored from a yard out to put Ohio on top 13-3.

Needing to answer, the Broncos did after the offense was set up in good field position by Leroy Thomas’ 53-yard kickoff return. Wolff tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Kenneth Womack to make it a 13-10 game in the final seconds of the third quarter.

Ohio followed with another successful drive that included a 30-yard O’Shaan Allison run but wound up with nothing to show for it when Spetic missed a 26-yard field goal off the top of the left upright.

Finally, on the next drive, Wiglusz and Ohio could not be denied. Wiglusz picked up 17 yards on the first play, and Bangura had runs of 16 and 22 yards before Wiglusz’s big touchdown.

“We were finally getting a rhythm (in the second half),” Wiglusz said. “Things were working. We were hitting some of those big runs that we didn’t get much of early in the year.”

Western Michigan answered with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Wolfe to Womack to make it a three-point game with 2:21 remaining. But with two timeouts remaining, the Broncos opted not to try an onside kick and never got the ball back.

Allison initially was ruled to have gained a first down on a second-and-4 play, but Western Michigan challenged, and he was ruled a yard short. Allison got the yard on the next play, leaving Ohio in position to kneel out the rest of the clock.

While Spetic missed two field goals in the second half, he made good on two – on Ohio’s first and last possessions before the break. Ohio settled for a 28-yarder after a strong drive to get things started and got a 19-yarder just before halftime.

The second field goal came after Tank Pearson ended a Western Michigan drive at the Ohio 18 with an interception of Wolff with 39 seconds remaining. A 38-yard reception by Wiglusz moved the Bobcats to the Broncos’ 13-yard line, and a pass interreference call advanced the ball to the 2, but with just four seconds left, Ohio opted for a short field goal to make it 6-0.

Western Michigan had scoring chances in the first half prior to the interception as well. Domschke missed a field goal off the right upright with 5:48 left in the first quarter and then he slipped while missing an attempt from 41 yards early in the second quarter. Another drive ended on a fourth-and-1 stop by Keye Thompson and Jeremiah Wood at the Bobcats’ 22-yard line.

Bangura finished with 86 yards rushing on 15 carries, while Allison had 64 yards on the same number of attempts.

“We were struggling with running the ball in the first half and made a couple of adjustments,” Albin said. “It was the difference in the game.”

Miles Cross had 63 yards receiving on six catches.

Wolff, who had been sharing time at quarterback, played the entire game and finished 30-of-42 passing for 290 yards, leaning heavily on Womack, who caught 14 passes for 90 yards. Thomas added six receptions for 68 yards.

Running back Jalen Buckley had been averaging more than 100 yards per game rushing but was held to just 19 yards on six carries. The Broncos gained just 79 yards on the ground overall.

Thompson finished with 13 tackles, while Bryce Houston had 12 to lead another strong defensive effort by Ohio. Torrie Cox Jr. had 1.5 tackles for loss, including the team’s only sack on the day.

Western Michigan’s record probably is not the best indicator of how good it is. The Broncos’ nonconference schedule includes losses to Syracuse, Iowa and Mississippi State, while they have lost to Toledo, Miami and Ohio in MAC play.

The Bobcats remained unbeaten at home the last two seasons since dedicating Frank Solich Field at Peden Stadium.

“You can never not celebrate a win, but we know where this team can be and wants to be,” Wiglusz said.

First place in the MAC East is up for grabs as Ohio hosts Miami at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Peden Stadium on CBS Sports Network.

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