ATHENS, Ohio — Sophomore quarterback Nathan Rourke ran for three touchdowns to lead Ohio to a 59-0 victory over Hampton on Saturday in Ohio's season opener at Peden Stadium.
Ohio racked up 420 yards of offense with eight touchdowns and 22 first downs.
The running outweighed the passing, as the Bobcats totaled seven rushing touchdowns and 248 rushing yards, the most since 2002 against Kent State when Ohio scored six rushing touchdowns.
"At first the yards were tough to come by, but our offense was able to keep itself on the field," 13th year head coach Frank Solich said. "I think it was a wear-down effect—that's the way it usually is if you having a very good running game and the plays get a little bit better in the third and fourth quarter. I was pleased with the running game our linemen, I have to go and watch the film but, I think they did pretty good job up front."
With the return of redshirt junior running back A.J. Ouellette (Covington, Ohio) and a strong offensive line, the scoring was expected, but the bigger surprise was the defensive dominance.
Hampton only mustered 108 yards while being shutout. Tougher competition sits on the horizon for the Bobcats, but with 10 tackles for loss and 3 sacks, the defense dominated Saturday's contest.
Redshirt senior linebacker Quentin Poling (Gomer, Ohio) and redshirt freshman defensive end Austin Conrad (Grafton, Ohio) each recorded six tackles, while four Bobcats registered four tackles apiece. Junior linebacker Evan Croutch (Youngstown, Ohio) led the Bobcats with two sacks.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinton Maxwell (Rayville, Mo.) was 7-9 with 100-yards, while throwing a touchdown the touchdown to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Papi White (Seminole, Okla.). Ouellette led all rushers with 63 yards on 12 carries.
Rourke and Maxwell split series in the second half, as Rourke finished the game 6 for 10 with 72 yards and a long of 23 yards when he hit redshirt freshman wide receiver Bryan Long Jr. across the middle for a 23-yard pickup. Rourke was also the second-highest rusher for Ohio, scrambling for 55 yards on six rushes.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Cameron Odom (Bedford, Ohio) and White combined for 110 of the 172 receiving yards Saturday night, as White hauled in the only receiving touchdown.
For freshman running back Julian Ross (Kansas City, Mo.), he finished the day with two rushing touchdowns and 27 yards on 11 carries.
"The offensive line did their job," Ross said. "They did what they had to do for us, go out and do what we're here for. They definitely helped us do what we can do by what they do. I tried to just keep it mellow. Stay the same, same person, just stay there and play the game, set the bar higher, and keep accomplishing goals."
Ohio put the game out of reach when it scored 26 points in the third quarter. Rourke scored one of his three touchdowns on a 13-yard run, Ross picked up his second rushing touchdown of the night and redshirt senior Dorian Brown (Pittsburg, Pa.) rushed from 10-yards out.
The five other points in the quarter came from redshirt sophomore kicker Louie Zervos' (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) 38-yard field goal and a safety due to a Pirates' punt snap that went out of the back of the end zone.
Ohio led 20-0 at halftime.
"We just knew we wanted to put up more points, we wanted to prove that we're a young offense but we wanted to prove that we can put up a lot of points this year," Odom said. "That's one thing that we struggled with last year, kicking a lot of field goals. We wanted to make sure that if we're in the red zone punching it in."
The Bobcats jumped on top early, on their second drive of the game Maxwell found an open White near the sideline, as the running back scampered into the end zone for a 16-yard pass and the first score of the season.
The scoring continued in the second quarter, when Rourke made his first appearance as a Bobcat. The redshirt sophomore quarterback strung together a 16 play, 82-yard scoring drive. On the drive, Ohio picked up 78 of its 420 yards on the day and Rourke completed all three of his pass attempts. The drive was capped off on a Rourke 8-yard run.
The Ohio football team returns to play on Friday, September 15 at Purdue (0-1). Kickoff is set for 8:05 p.m. CT as the game can be heard by the 'Voice of the Bobcats' Russ Eisenstein on the Ohio IMG Network or watched on the Big Ten Network.