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De'montre Tuggle (#24) fighting for the first down during todays game at InfoCision Stadium on October 2, 2021 (FILE)

Football: De'Montre Tuggle scores 3 touchdowns in Ohio's 35-33 win over Miami

De’Montre Tuggle took a handoff from Ohio quarterback Armani Rogers and ran to his right. The running back broke through a crowd of Miami defenders and zipped 46 yards into the end zone. His touchdown run put Ohio ahead by two scores and all but secured its second victory of the season.

In Ohio’s 35-33 win over Miami on Tuesday night, Tuggle’s touchdown run was a point of relief. Ohio had chafed against Miami in the second half and allowed a team it led by four touchdowns in the third quarter to score 26 unanswered points. By the time Tuggle took the the handoff from Rogers, Ohio’s lead had been shaved down to a mere two points.

But Tuggle cut the rally short.

“Knowing what the situation was,” Tuggle said, “I was just trying to put points on the board and just win a close game. We’ve had a lot of tough breaks, so I was just trying to make sure that we finished.” 

Tuggle’s fourth-quarter touchdown was far from his only contribution. The running back closed out the Bobcats’ scoring, but he also opened it up. He scored the first two touchdowns of the night for the Bobcats, both of which provided ample padding as the RedHawks surged in the second half.

Ohio coach Tim Albin wanted Tuggle to slide down before he reached the end zone, however. Had the running back gone down, Ohio might’ve been able to keep possession long enough to close out the game.

“De’Montre should have went down,” Albin said. “That’s on me. We practice it … in that situation, if he slides down right there, the game’s over.” 

It’s a decision Ohio (2-7, 2-3 Mid-American Conference) can discuss later. Tuggle, however, has bigger accomplishments to pride himself for. He scored three of Ohio’s five touchdowns Tuesday. 

Tuggle opened up the Bobcats’ scoring with a two-yard touchdown run. He then bested himself on the following drive when he caught a pass behind the line of scrimmage and ran 48 yards along the sideline for his second trip to the end zone trip that night. Thanks to Tuggle, Ohio led by two touchdowns early in the second quarter.

The running back played a vital role by not just by tying for the second-most receiving yards among the Bobcats but also by leading a run game that faced an uphill battle. 

Miami (4-5, 2-3 MAC) boasted the top rushing defense in the MAC East Division going into Tuesday and had allowed 100 yards or fewer to its first four conference opponents. Only one player — Ball State’s Carson Steele — had put up more than 40 yards in any of those games.  

Thanks to Tuggle and strong run blocking, both of those streaks ended Tuesday. Ohio recorded 125 yards on the ground. Tuggle led Ohio in rushing with 69 yards on 11 carries, averaging 6.3 yards per run. His three touchdowns were the most he’s had since he scored three in Ohio’s win over Bowling Green last season.  

“We feel great,” Tuggle said. “Big testament to the line and how hard those guys work in order to be in the right positions to make runs like that happen.” 

It’s one thing to reach the end zone three times against the lowest-ranked scoring defense from last season, but Tuggle scored three touchdowns against Ohio’s biggest rival, which also boasts one of the best defenses in the MAC. Tuggle has time and time again proven himself to be one of Ohio’s most vital offensive weapons, and Tuesday’s win further codified that fact.

@elifeaz  

ef195418@ohio.edu 

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