By Pete Nakos
Feature Writer OhioBobcats.com
ATHENS, Ohio — Nathan Rourke sat in the news conference with a smile of satisfaction on his face. Sipping on Pedialyte, with his eye black still on, Rourke seemed relaxed.
For him, Saturday night had been the easy part of his journey to play Division I football. From high school in Canada and Alabama to Fort Scott Community College in Kansas, Rourke had been everywhere to play the game of football.
So, at Peden Stadium against Hampton, the quarterback made sure that people didn't forget he knew how to play football.
He rushed for three touchdowns on the night, spinning and diving into the end zone as the Bobcats defeated Hampton 59-0 in front of 17,501.
"I think just running out of that tunnel for the first time," said Rourke on achieving his goal. "You know, the smoke and the band, that really culminated a crazy journey to get to this point."
On Rourke's first time on the field as a Bobcat, he led them on a 16 play, 82-yard drive. Ohio started on its own 18-yard line, but Rourke wasn't fazed as he completed all three passes he attempted and capped the drive off by scrambling for an 8-yard touchdown in the right corner of the end zone.
His teammates proceeded to lift him up.
"I don't really know if I can tell you," he said about scoring his first touchdown. "It was kind of a blur, and I tried to enjoy it as much as I can. It was great (to play in front of family), you know."
After the game, head coach Frank Solich was ecstatic after the game, specifically about Rourke and starting quarterback Quinton Maxwell. Solich was able to have confidence in both of his quarterbacks against the Pirates, each was able to operate the offense effectively.
In the system that Solich has developed at Ohio, he believes that it's best for the team to have two able quarterbacks at all times.
For a team that struggled at red zone efficiency in 2016, the Bobcats made seven trips into the red zone on Saturday and scored a touchdown all seven times. Four of the touchdowns came when Rourke was in at quarterback.
"I thought they were both very composed," Solich said. "They operated our offense with a good tempo and made good decisions on the field. I thought both those guys did a good job at running the offense."
Rourke was able to find the openings in the secondary, hitting Bryan Long Jr. across the middle for a 23-yard pickup. Rourke was able to have success on speed options, specifically when between the hashes; two of his touchdowns came off of the play.
Rourke—who came to Ohio as a spring transfer in 2017—played in Saturday's game after only being introduced to Ohio's playbook barely eight months ago.
He said he didn't feel completely comfortable with the playbook until midway through fall camp and then he could start focusing on quarterback techniques.
But on Saturday night, it seemed as if none of that mattered.
"There's always things that you've got to work on," Rourke said. "There's a lot of good things to take away from it too, I mean we keep putting in an effort like we did, we got to be happy."