BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – The defense forced four turnovers and sophomore quarterback Nathan Rourke scored a total of four touchdowns as the Ohio football team defeated Bowling Green 48-30 on Saturday afternoon at Doyt Perry Stadium.
With three rushing touchdowns, Rourke moved to seventh all-time in single-season rushing touchdowns at Ohio. He's totaled 12 rushing touchdowns so far this season and finished the game with 143 rushing yards, leading the Bobcats, and completed seven passes for 105 yards.
Ohio took the lead for good when Rourke broke free for a 75-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.
The Bobcats finished the day with 335 rushing yards, a season-high. The last time Ohio eclipsed 300 rushing yards was at Kansas in 2016 (329).
"You would think that they would have someone covering the quarterback," Rourke said. "We were trying to exploit that. Everyone's eyes were on the running back and I was able to walk in. I had good blocks downfield from Cam (Odom) and Dorian (Brown)."
The win improved Ohio to 5-2 on the year and 2-1 in the Mid-American Conference.
Redshirt junior running back A.J. Ouellette picked up 123 yards on the ground, along with two touchdowns. It marked the fourth game this season that Ouellette rushed for over 100 yards. Redshirt junior Andrew Meyer led the Bobcats at wide receiver with three receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came early in the fourth quarter when Meyer and Rourke connected for the 40-yard score.
Redshirt sophomore safety Javon Hagan and redshirt junior linebacker Evan Croutch each collected 11 tackles on the day. Croutch had a tackle for loss, while Hagan had a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. RS senior linebacker Quentin Poling had ten tackles and two tackles for loss, along with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
"We knew we had to be serious," Poling said. "We had played horrendously the last two times here. We had a lot to prove to ourselves. Coming off of a loss, we made turnovers a big part of practice, just attacking and protecting the ball."
The first quarter saw the Falcons take an early lead. On their first possession of the game Bowling Green drove down the field, setting up a 42-yard field goal for Jake Suder, putting BGSU up 3-0.
After the Bobcats would go three-and-out, Bowling Green drove down the field again, setting up a 34-yard field goal from Suder, giving the Falcons a 6-0 lead
The biggest play of the quarter for the Bobcats came with two minutes to go in the frame when RS senior linebacker Chad Moore forced Josh Cleveland to fumble the ball and Poling recovered to set up the Ohio drive starting at Bowling Green 27-yard line. The Bobcats would capitalize on the turnover six seconds into the second quarter when Ouellette took the ball six yards for a touchdown, putting Ohio up 7-6.
Bowling Green responded immediately, taking the ball down the field on a 72-yard drive that took 1:57 off the clock, capped off by an Andrew Clair rushing touchdown, putting the Falcons up 13-7.
Later in the quarter, after RS sophomore punter Michael Farkas placed a punt on the one-yard line, Ellis recorded his second pick-six of the season, intercepting a pass from James Morgan and taking it 15-yards for the score, putting Ohio up 14-13.
After forcing the Bowling Green defense to punt, Rourke would be picked off for the second time in the game, with Marcus Milton picking off the pass at the Ohio 34-yard line. Fortunately, the Ohio defense would be able to hold the BGSU offense to a 32-yard field goal, Suder's third of the game, putting the Falcons up 16-14.
The Bobcats' next drive would start at their own 18-yard line. After the offense was helped by a roughing the passer penalty, the next play would result in a 36-yard completion to Meyer, putting Ohio at the BGSU seven-yard line. On the next play, Rourke rushed into the end zone for his 10th rushing touchdown of the season. After RS sophomore kicker Louie Zervos connected on the extra point, the Bobcats took a 21-16 lead.
At the half, Rourke was 6-of-16 with 65 yards in the air and rushed for 26 yards on three carries and a touchdown.
Ouellette ran for 29 years and a touchdown, while Dorian Brown led the team in rushing with 55 yards at the break. On the receiving end, Meyer led the receivers with 44 yards on two catches in the first half.
Both defenses would take control at the start of the third quarter. However, with 5:51 left in the third quarter, Bowling Green started a drive at the Ohio 49-yard line. The Falcons then put together a seven-play 49-yard drive that was capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to put the Falcons up 23-21.
The Bobcats responded immediately. After the ensuing kickoff Rourke kept the ball, taking off down the field for a 75-yard touchdown. After the two-point conversion attempt failed, the Bobcats took a 27-23 lead with 3:28 left in the third quarter.
After the Ohio defense forced Bowling Green to punt, Ohio started their drive at their own 25-yard line with 1:10 left in the third quarter. During that drive, Rourke took off for a 29-yard rush, setting up what would be a 40-yard touchdown pass to Meyer. After Zervos drained the extra point, the Bobcats took a 34-23 lead with 14:23 left in the game. The 40-yard catch was the longest reception of Meyer's career.
After the Falcons started their drive on their own 25-yard line, Poling would sack Morgan, forcing a fumble and Ellis recovered the ball giving Ohio the possession at the BG 20-yard line. Ouellette rushed the ball three times to set up a two-yard touchdown run, putting Ohio up 41-23 with 11:02 left in the game.
Bowling Green answered with their own scoring drive which cut Ohio's lead to 41-30 with 9:23 left in the game. The drive was five plays and covered 75 yards capped off by a Clair one-yard rush.
"Nathan gives us an added dimension as a quarterback," head coach Frank Solich said. "That is huge for us. There are obviously teams that have that, but there's a lot of teams that don't have that. When you put him into the running game, it gives you a chance for a lot of things to happen."
Rourke scored his third and final rushing touchdown capping off a nine play, 41-yard drive that lasted 5:21. Conner's interception stopped Bowling Green's final drive of the game allowing the Bobcats to run the clock out.
The Bobcats return to play next week as they return to Peden Stadium. Ohio is set to take on East Division foe Kent State (2-5, 1-2) at 2 p.m. ET.