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Ohio University running back O'Shaan Allison (No. 0) trying to gain yards against the opposing team Kent State at Peden Stadium on Oct. 23, 2021.

Football: Slow start and early turnovers haunt Ohio in 34-27 loss to Kent State

It was hard to ask for more out of Ohio’s offense in the second half against Kent State.

Its first drive of the third quarter ended with a nine-yard rushing touchdown from quarterback Kurtis Rourke, and Ohio followed up by scoring on each of its final three drives of the game. Rourke ended with career-highs in passing yards, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in his first appearance on the field in three weeks. With 20 points put up after halftime, the Bobcats could have kept even with the Mid-American Conference’s top total offense. 

Unfortunately for Ohio, its Saturday started with disastrous mistakes that gave Kent State just enough room to hold on for a win.

Ohio lost its third-straight game in a 34-27 loss to Kent State on Saturday at Peden Stadium. It has now lost three straight games by seven points or less. No matter how many highs Ohio reaches in a game, a handful of lows drag it down week after week. 

The Bobcats’ (1-7, 1-3 MAC) first three drives ended with a turnover on downs, a three-and-out and a fumble by O’Shaan Allison. The Bobcats only gained 47 yards in the first quarter. After starting quarterback Armani Rogers was pulled for Rourke after four drives, the Bobcats began to make progress. In Rourke’s first two drives, the Bobcats reached the red zone.

But those two trips were wasted. Ohio turned the ball over both times after Isiah Cox fumbled and Rourke was intercepted in the end zone.

“Those turnovers can’t happen,“ Rourke said. “It’s hard to win games when you have three turnovers. The defense did a great job, especially in the first half, and we’ve got to put points on the board.”

Had Ohio found the end zone on one of those possessions, it might’ve dragged Kent State (4-4, 3-1 MAC) into overtime. Instead, it lost by a touchdown.

Before Saturday’s game, Kent State had the lowest ranked total defense in the MAC. Ohio didn’t score against that defense until its final drive of the first half. The offense never stayed on the field for long, and the defense was forced to contend with Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum. Despite facing a quarterback with the third-most passing yards in the conference, Ohio held Kent State to 17 points on seven drives in the first half.

“The defense did an unbelievable job keeping us in the game in the first half,“ Ohio coach Tim Albin said. “It could have gotten out of hand and we could have been playing from behind earlier with the three turnovers.”

Still, Crum and the Golden Flashes put up 457 total yards on offense and easily picked the Bobcats apart in the air and on the ground. Crum completed 26-of-31 passing attempts for 257 yards and a touchdown. Three separate Kent State rushers recorded a touchdown and combined for 203 yards, including 93 from Crum.

Ohio has allowed 17 points in the second half for three straight weeks, and its defense has been riddled with injuries this season. It was up to the offense to keep the game competitive. Had it not been for three turnovers before halftime, Ohio may have been able to stay on Kent State’s heels.

In their previous two losses, the Bobcats either stayed neck-and-neck or dominated in the first half before falling apart and losing on last second scoring drives. Scoring on all of their second-half drives seemed like the recipe the Bobcats needed for success going into Saturday. 

But for every answer Ohio finds, it discovers another problem. 

“We’re just a couple plays short here or there,“ linebacker Cannon Blauser said. “A couple missed tackles, a turnover, missed opportunity. We’re just a couple plays short every game that we’ve lost. It’s frustrating, but it gives a little bit of hope that there are just a couple of things to fix.” 


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