There was plenty of excitement around Ohio’s week two match up against Pitt. The memory of Dion Byrum, coach Frank Solich’s first win as coach and the unexpected night that happened in Athens 15 years ago was a discussion throughout the week.
But the Bobcats weren’t able to repeat history as it lost in Heinz Field 20-10.
Ohio was tested early by Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett. The junior was 26-for-37 with 321 yards and one touchdown. Pickett and Co. had 225 yards at the half and over 300 by the end of the third quarter. The Panthers pass attack was generated through a series of slants and dig routes. The play that stuck out most, however, was Pickett’s 74-yard touchdown to Maurice Ffrench.
Ohio’s secondary - who allowed 291 yards last week against FCS Rhode Island - faced off against a much better set of quarterbacks and wide receivers, despite the Panthers wide receiver room not being the most experienced.
The Pitt offense commanded the tempo throughout the game as well. A methodical mix of hurry up and huddles gave the Bobcats fits in terms of lining up and coverage adjustments.
In total, the Ohio defense allowed 481 yards, and an average of 6.5 yards per play.
Offensively for Ohio, it didn’t score its first points until its fifth possession of the game, thanks to a Louie Zervos 23-yard field goal with 6:55 left in the second quarter.
Quarterback Nathan Rourke struggled throughout the game despite a 15-for-27 and 177 yard day. The senior was sacked six times and had an intentional grounding on Ohio’s first drive in the second half that served as a catalyst in the slowed production of the drive.
The Bobcats’ lone touchdown of the day was scored on a 7-yard carry by junior running back De’Montre Tuggle after a pair of deep passes from Rourke.
A slow day as the Bobcats only totaled 212 yards, and an average of 3.8 yards per play. The offense had chances, too. There were dropped passes - Jerome Buckner dropped a sure touchdown late in the first half. There were overthrows and ankle tackles.
Pitt gave Ohio a challenge early in the year that highlighted the areas in which it needs to work on. Between the secondary and the offensive line struggles, the Bobcats will have their hands full in the film and meeting rooms.
Ohio is back on the road next Saturday when it travels to Huntington, West Virginia, to renew the Battle for the Bell against Marshall.