Ohio is another step closer to being cohesive. Its 30-27 loss to Central Michigan on Saturday made for a disappointing Homecoming, but there was still plenty of good to come from the loss.
The Bobcats looked better compared to their performance during nonconference play. Led by quarterback Armani Rogers, the Bobcats kept pace with a Chippewas offense that averages 28 points per game and the running backs explored some of their lesser-used players to modest success.
However, the Bobcats were still plagued with missteps and mistakes during crucial drives that cost them the win. Ineffective late-game defense compounded by untimely penalties doomed them to their fifth loss of the season.
Here’s a few of the notable performances — both good and bad — from Ohio’s Homecoming loss to Central Michigan and what they mean going forward:
For the second game in a row, Rogers has adapted to fit the mold of Ohio’s offense. After commanding the offense in the second half of Ohio’s game against Akron, Rogers was given the go-ahead for his first start as a Bobcat against Central Michigan.
The redshirt fifth year didn’t disappoint. His performance was among the best of his college career, passing for 190 yards and rushing for 37 yards and a touchdown. Rogers remained under center for the entire game, and Ohio looked that much more solid for it.
Ohio coach Tim Albin stated in his Monday press conference that while Rogers and fellow quarterback Kurtis Rourke will still be sharing time, the start for each game goes to whichever quarterback impresses during practice during the week.
If Rogers’ performance Saturday is an indicative sample, his first start for Ohio won’t be his last.
Running backs room
Ohio’s rushing corps continues to improve week-by-week.
The Bobcats stretched their legs by incorporating four running backs into their game against the Chippewas, and it paid off. Aside from the usual duo of De’Montre Tuggle and O’Shaan Allison, both Jake Neatherton and freshman Sieh Bangura made an appearance Saturday.
Bangura, on the first carry of his career, broke through the middle to pick up 40 yards and his first career touchdown. Neatherton and Allison, while not going on any major runs, still performed well enough to keep Ohio moving downfield.
Ohio’s defense, while not shutting down Central Michigan, managed to hold its own enough to allow the offense to keep Saturday’s game within a touchdown for the entire game. The defense managed to hold the second-best rusher in the MAC, Lew Nichols, to just 70 rushing yards in the second half.
Ohio led midway through the fourth quarter following Bangura’s 40-yard touchdown run. It just needed to stem Central Michigan’s offense and run out the clock. Instead, the defense allowed Central Michigan to score on two of its final three drives of the night.
35% of all points scored against Ohio this season have been scored in the fourth quarter. In two of its losses, Ohio was down by less than a touchdown after three quarters. It was only down by a point to Central Michigan entering the final quarter. Had the defense gotten a stop after Bangura’s run, Ohio might’ve come away with a win.
Ohio lost 35 yards to penalties in the fourth quarter alone Saturday. An unsportsmanlike conduct call forced Ohio to punt when it planned on going for it on a fourth-and-two play. A face mask penalty by cornerback Pierre Kemeni gave Central Michigan a first down to begin a drive that resulted in the game-winning touchdown.
Sure, the amount of penalties Ohio incurs per game has been trending downward since its loss to Duquesne on Sept. 11. However, the penalties it earned against Central Michigan occurred at the worst times possible.