The Bobcats looked like they were pulling away.

Nathan Rourke had just connected with wide receiver Andrew Meyer in Central Michigan's end zone when everyone stopped, halted by a referee's whistle.

Ohio was called for an illegal formation, wiping a would-be touchdown off the board. Instead of a two-touchdown lead, Louie Zervos had to trot onto the field for a 50-yard field goal attempt.

Then disaster struck.

Zervos' kick was blocked and returned for a touchdown, which cut the Ohio lead to one point as the first half expired. That play gave the Chippewas all the momentum they needed to upset the Bobcats 26-23 at Peden Stadium on Saturday.

Here are three key things from Ohio's loss on Homecoming. 

Killer Mistakes

The Bobcats could have escaped with a win if that blocked field goal was a blip on the radar. Instead, it was a representation of the entire day.

"The end of the first half was outrageous in terms of what transpired," coach Frank Solich said. "We lined up incorrectly on a formation, have a touchdown called back, have a field goal blocked and they score. That's huge."

Ohio allowed penetration up the middle of the line which led to the block and score, which might have put Central Michigan down for the day had the line held, or had the kick gotten through.

Instead, the Bobcats let the Chippewas hang around through the first half. 

"Instead of being down by two touchdowns, they're right there and they're jumping up and down in the locker room," Solich said. "We leave them right in the game."

The mental errors were big, but the physical ones were bigger. 


Rourke had been perfect in the turnovers category before Saturday's game. He hadn't thrown an interception, or even fumbled the ball away. Then he unraveled. 

He threw one interception and fumbled three times, which killed drives for Ohio throughout the afternoon. He scored three times on the ground and ran for 100 yards in the second straight game, but his lows negated whatever good came of his touchdowns. 

"I think you've just got to give credit to them," Rourke said. "There were times when they had the right defense called against what we had. Tip your hat to them, but it starts with us. I've got to do a better job holding onto the ball and giving our guys a chance to make plays."

Of Ohio's 11 drives, five ended in turnovers. Three ended in the end zone. 

The Bobcats have now turned the ball over seven times in their two Mid-American Conference games. 

"There were a couple where I don't think he could have helped it," Solich said. "He got blindsided on one or two. Along with those turnovers, we had a lot of dropped balls. You add those things together, and how are we in the game? Just idiotic things."

Struggles on Both Ends

In recent weeks, one unit on the Bobcats has been able to pick the other up. 

Against Eastern Michigan, the defense carried the offense to overtime and eventually a win. Against UMass, the offense outscored the Minutemen offense.

There was none of that on Saturday. 

When the offense had a chance to take over, there was a penalty or a turnover. When the defense had a chance at the end of the game for a stop, a pass interference was called. 

"We have a chance to maybe stop them, we get called for a pass interference at the end," Solich said. "Ball was, where'd it land? First row of the seats, maybe? But that's not the answer. The answer was to play good football leading up to that point and we wouldn't have been in that situation."

With Central Michigan facing a 3rd and 7 with time running down, quarterback Shane Morris threw toward tight end Tyler Conklin. 

Conklin, who had 10 catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns on the day, saw the ball fall incomplete. But Ellis was flagged for pass interference. 

"I though both guys were competing for it," cornerback Bradd Ellis said. "There's contact from both of us, they threw the flag on (me)."

It seemed each time Ohio was knocking at the door, Central Michigan had an answer. 

Often times, Ohio helped Central Michigan out. 

"I was proud of the way the defense stepped up today, especially coming off a week like last week," Ellis said. "But we didn't step up enough and that starts just with me. We would be off the field probably celebrating right now if they don't call that penalty."


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