OXFORD — Quinton Maxwell stood in the shotgun, looking downfield, trying to find an adjustment that could save the Bobcats’ season.
Five seconds remained on the clock, and they needed a Hail Mary to win the game.
It was Maxwell’s one and only snap Wednesday night at Yager Stadium. Three wideouts spread out wide to his right, one to his left. As he snapped the ball, he felt pressure from his right. He escaped the pocket and shook off a defender.
Aware of more pressure coming from his left, he let go of Ohio’s final chance and fell short. Instead of falling into the hands of Andrew Meyer or Cam Odom, the ball didn’t even fall into the end zone. It died outside of the 10-yard line, out of bounds.
As Maxwell’s throw came crashing down, so did Ohio’s chances of a win. The Bobcats fell 30-28 to Miami, breaking a five-game win streak in the “Battle of the Bricks,” a loss that was filled with missed execution and miscues.
“You’re just hoping that with a tip, you can come down with it,” coach Frank Solich said. “He (Maxwell) just had a stronger arm.”
With 7:12 left in the fourth quarter, Ohio trailed 28-21. The Bobcats started their drive off from the 1-yard line due to a punt that pinned them there. After a 2-yard run and 2-yard pass, they were faced with 3rd and 6.
Rourke dropped back to pass and started to scramble around the end zone. He cut to his left, then his right. Eventually he shifted to the right side of the end zone and was pushed out of bounds for a safety, which would become the RedHawks game-winning score.
The safety was Rourke’s fault. But, it was the execution from the Bobcats that set him up for failure. If Kylan Nelson had returned the punt, instead of watching it bounce to the goal line, field position would’ve been better. If the offensive line had handled the defensive line, Rourke would’ve had the time to find an open receiver on third down.
Instead, the end result, a safety.
“I don’t know,” Nelson said of the punt. “I saw where it was, and I was like, ‘dang it.’”
The final Hail Mary shouldn’t have determined the outcome of the game, Solich said.
In his opinion, the game was lost in the first half. Miami entered the break scoring 28 straight points. Ohio trailed 28-7, all seemed lost.
Yet throughout the second half, Ohio made plays to dig themselves out of a hole that seemed too deep. Running back A.J. Ouellette found success running the ball, finishing with his second 100-yard game of the season.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats forced Miami to punt from its own 43-yard line.
A bad snap turned into a delayed punt, which concluded with a blocked punt. For the second straight week, they blocked a punt for a touchdown. This week Jared Dorsa blocked the punt, which was scooped and scored by Dylan Conner.
It was one of the few bright spots Wednesday night for Ohio.
“After the first drive, we just seemed completely out of sync for the entire rest of the half,” Solich said. “It took us until the second half to finally get back to where we were starting to make plays on both sides of the ball. The first half was atrocious.”
When Maxwell’s final attempt hit the ground, Ohio’s chances of reaching the Mid-American Conference Championship Game took a hit as well. It needed to win the last three games of the season to secure a berth, but with Wednesday’s loss, Ohio no longer controls its own destiny.
Instead, like the Hail Mary attempt, it’s out of Ohio’s hands. It’s out of the Bobcats’ hands if the 50 year drought of no MAC Championship continues.
But Wednesday night, Ohio left as losers.
It may of been the final time that it played a meaningful game together.
“We shouldn’t have been in that spot,” Ouellette said.