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Sieh Bangura (22) celebrates with his team at the 2022 Homecoming game against the Akron Zips at Peden Stadium in Athens Ohio on October 8,2022.

Football: Ohio shows improvement in 55-34 win against Akron

This season, Ohio has struggled to play like a well-rounded team. In its past five games, when the offense is doing well, the defense isn't. When the defense steps up, the offense takes a step down. 

That wasn't the case against Akron. 

The Bobcats looked complete Saturday, defeating the Zips 55-34 at Peden Stadium to advance to 3-0 at home this season. 

Right from the get-go, Ohio took control of the game. It won the coin toss and elected to receive, which isn't typical as most teams normally defer. Then, on the game's very first play, quarterback Kurtis Rourke threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Sam Wiglusz, and Ohio was immediately on the board. 

"It couldn't have played out much better, and it really got us off to a hot start," Wiglusz said. "(The touchdown catch) felt great."

The offensive dominance didn't stop there. Besides taking a couple of knees at the game's end, Ohio scored a touchdown on all but two drives. A few of its touchdowns came on big plays, including an additional touchdown pass from Rourke to Wiglusz for 30 yards and a 25-yard touchdown pass to Sieh Bangura. 

Rourke outdid himself once again, completing 24 of 27 pass attempts for an 89% completion rate. His 427 passing yards Saturday are his second most in a game this season and the second most in a game in Ohio history. Rourke continues to set program records week after week and could continue to do so for the remainder of the season. 

"Offensively, we are clicking on all cylinders," Ohio head coach Tim Albin said.

Ohio has not been clicking on defense as much this season but showed a good amount of improvement Saturday. Last week against Kent State, Ohio only recovered two of six fumbles and punted on both of those drives. 

However, against Akron, Ohio adjusted and capitalized on more of its opponent's errors. Ohio recovered a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown and even earned its first interception of the season. 

In addition, Ohio allowed fewer yards against Akron than it did against Kent State in week five. Last week, Ohio gave up 338 rushing yards to Kent State, including 240 yards to a single player. It held Akron to 60 rushing yards Saturday, less than Akron's average of 78 rushing yards per game entering Saturday.

"(It was a) great game," Albin said. "Both sides of the ball, special teams, really our most complete game of the year without question. I'm glad it happened on Frank Solich Field and on homecoming."

Despite the Zips being at the bottom of the conference for the past couple years, the Bobcats didn't see this game as any different than their others. Their confidence levels weren't any greater going into the game, and they knew each conference matchup could be competitive. 

"They have a great ballclub, same as I think a lot of other teams in the MAC," defensive linebacker Bryce Houston said. "We should take it as it's another opponent that we have to have to beat and nothing too much about how they've been playing the previous weeks." 

Six weeks into the season, Ohio is seeing a lot of its work pay off and the team is coming together. If it can keep this up for the coming weeks and the remainder of MAC play, it may be in for a fun season. 

Correction appended: A previous version of this article stated the incorrect score in the headline. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.


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