KENT — Nathan Rourke and the Bobcats had the ball, down five with five minutes to play. On a first down scramble, Rourke was running out of bounds and was trucked by a Kent State defender, giving the Bobcats 15 extra yards they didn't have to earn.
That penalty proved to swing a momentum pendulum since the Bobcats hadn't been able to budge all day Saturday. Rourke scored the game-winning touchdown with just 1:28 to play in Ohio's 27-26 come-from behind win over Kent State at Dix Stadium.
The Flashes led for 58 minutes and 22 seconds, but the Bobcats found a way to sneak past them to earn their first Mid-American Conference win of the season.
Ohio was able to find a ways to win despite turning the ball over inside the Kent State 30-yard line three different times. It looked bleak for a while.
First, Nathan Rourke was intercepted inside the 10-yard line when the Bobcats had an early deficit. Then, Rourke fumbled as he tried to pitch the ball to his running back on an option play toward the end of the half. Kent State scored a field goal on that ensuing drive.
In the second half, A.J. Ouellette, the mostly sure-handed ball carrier, fumbled the ball away, giving away another chance for an Ohio score.
Three long drives, three empty possessions. The Bobcats (3-2, 1-0 MAC) couldn't take care of the football in Kent State territory, and the Flashes (1-5, 0-2 MAC) made them pay.
Aside from Rourke's turnovers, the signal caller threw the ball as well as he has this season. He finished 18-of-20 for 284 and two total touchdowns — one on the ground.
Kent State quarterback Woody Barrett was a pain for the Bobcats. He was 26-of-33 for 273 yards passing and two touchdowns, but he threw the sealing interception to Javon Hagan. Barrett was able to make plays with his feet, and the Bobcats had trouble bringing him and other Kent ball carriers to the ground throughout the game.
The Bobcats trailed the Flashes 17-7 at the half.
Two of the turnovers inside Kent territory occurred in the first half. Rourke threw an interception inside the 10 and fumbled a fourth down play at the Kent 20, when he tried to pitch the ball on an option play, but was hit as he pitched.
The Flashes struck on their first play from scrimmage. Barrett connected with Isaiah McKoy for a 75-yard touchdown pass. Following an Ohio punt, Kent scored again, but on a methodical drive to extend its lead to 14-0. The Bobcats cut into the lead on their following possession.