Ohio kept its Mid-American Conference Championship hopes alive Wednesday night at Peden Stadium, as the Bobcats trounced Buffalo 52-17 behind a dominating performance from their offense and a swarming defense.
A week after setting a career high in rushing yards, A.J. Ouellette set that bar higher with a career-best 196 yards on the ground. He had three total touchdowns — one receiving and two rushing. The Bobcats rushed for more than 400 yards as a team.
Nathan Rourke had three touchdown passes and led the offense on seven straight scoring drives to open the game. After giving up a score on the opening drive of the game, Ohio (7-4, 5-2 MAC) scored 31 straight points to blow it open.
The home team has won this matchup each time the teams have played since 2008.
Ohio’s defense didn’t allow Buffalo (9-2, 6-1 MAC) to do much of anything. The Bobcats forced five turnovers. They took away deep-threat wide receiver Anthony Johnson for much of the game, other than a 48-yard catch on the first drive of the game. Johnson, who is largely considered the best wide receiver in the MAC, had 95 yards receiving. It didn’t matter.
The Bulls’ dual-threat quarterback, Tyree Jackson, faced pressure for much of the night, and the Bobcats didn’t let him escape the pocket. Jackson finished with just 116 yards passing and 70 yards on the ground.
With the win over the Bulls, the Bobcats stayed alive in the MAC East race. To win the division and go to the MAC Championship Game, Ohio must beat Akron on Nov. 23 and have Bowling Green upset Buffalo.
Ouellette topped the 100-yard mark in the first half for the Bobcats. His performance was part of an offensive outburst by the Bobcats, who held a 31-10 lead at the break.
Rourke was 8-of-13 for 114 yards and a touchdown in the first half, including a 60-yard catch and run to freshman wide receiver Jerome Buckner. The score was Buckner’s first of his Ohio career. Maleek Irons had a touchdown run, as well.
Buffalo received the opening kick and drove down the field with relative ease thanks to a deep ball from Jackson to Johnson. The Bulls scored four plays later.
After that, it was all Ohio.
Jackson had three turnovers in the first half, which led to 17 Ohio points. Two of them were interceptions; one was a long ball on a third down in the first quarter that led to an Ohio touchdown. The other was a tipped slant route that fell into the hands of Jarren Hampton, leading to an Ohio field goal. Jackson’s other turnover was a fumble at the Ohio 4-yard line after he dashed 51 yards.
Ohio will play Akron next Friday at noon at Peden Stadium.