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Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke (7) yells the next play during the victory over Florida Atlantic at Peden Stadium.

Football: Ohio turns the ball over four times in 43-10 loss to Iowa State

AMES, Iowa -- It is incredibly hard to play back-to-back road games against Power 5 opponents, and Ohio found that out in Saturday’s 43-10 loss to Iowa State.

After being blown out 46-10 by Penn State on the road in Week 2, Ohio traveled to Ames, Iowa and looked even worse than it had the week prior, especially in the first half.

Against the Nittany Lions, the Bobcats trailed by 19 points at half time, but had cut the lead down to 12 in the last few minutes of the half. On Saturday, however, they trailed by 27 at the break and had never been close.

Iowa State scored on the first possession of the game, and from that point on, it was in control. Ohio did not run a play in Iowa State territory until midway through the second quarter, when an 11-play, 49-yard field goal drive put it on the board.

Over their first five drives of the game, the Bobcats gained 56 yards on 19 plays for just 2.9 yards per play. Those drives ended with three punts, a fumble and an interception, and the Bobcats only gained positive yardage on two of them.

While that looks very similar to what Ohio did on offense in the first half against Penn State, there were two big differences: turnovers and sacks.

“I just can’t get past the turnover piece of this,” head coach Tim Albin said. “You know, two straight games you don’t have any (and then you have four).”

Penn State dominated the game and Ohio’s offense struggled significantly in Week 2, but it was able to avoid costly turnovers and keep the score at a respectable margin for much of the game. That was not the case Saturday, and that is mostly down to the play of Kurtis Rourke.

After a career game against Florida Atlantic in the season opener, Rourke struggled against Penn State, completing under 50% of his passes for just 119 yards before he was replaced by Parker Navarro once the game was out of hand.

Against Iowa State, however, Rourke had a different type of poor performance. He completed 20 of 33 pass attempts for 194 yards and a touchdown. The majority of that came in the second half, after he had already turned the ball over twice and been sacked twice.

“I thought for Kurtis, last week, the ball was out on time,” Albin said. “I want to watch the film before I say it was not.”

In the first half Saturday, Rourke completed just 10 passes for 88 yards and an interception. He also had a fumble in the first half and went on to throw a second interception in the third quarter.

As much as Rourke struggled, the real problem for the Bobcats was their total inability to run the ball. This was a problem they have struggled with for the past two weeks. Against Penn State, Ohio ran the ball for 99 yards on 26 carries for an average of 3.8 per carry.

Although those numbers aren’t too bad, Ohio’s rushing attack against Iowa was essentially nonexistent. Ohio gained 24 yards on 22 carries, for a measly average of 1.1 yards per carry.

Part of the reason that average is so low is because of the four sacks that Ohio allowed, something else it avoided against Penn State, but even Ohio’s running backs had struggled for much of the game. Sieh Bangura and Nolan McCormick combined to carry the ball nine times for 33 yards in the first half, good for an average of 3.6 yards per carry.

For the second week in a row, Ohio was dominated by a more athletic, more talented team. It made a number of costly mistakes that may not have mattered in the blowout loss, but could swing games once Ohio gets into Mid-American Conference play.

@willocunningham

wc425318@ohio.edu

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