OXFORD, Ohio -- Ohio won its fifth straight game on Tuesday, and it was big.
The Bobcats got off to a slow start but quickly turned things around, beating Miami 37-21 in Oxford, Ohio. It was another team effort for the Bobcats with big plays on both sides of the ball.
Both Ohio and Miami struggled to score in the first quarter, despite a couple of long gains. Ohio’s first drive of the game consisted of seven plays, but it only picked up 44 yards. That drive was the longest of the quarter, taking up 3:40.
On that first drive, quarterback Kurtis Rourke found James Bostic on back-to-back plays for a combined 37 yards, and although the Bobcats made it to the RedHawks 36-yard line, they were forced to punt.
Ohio only scored one touchdown in the first half, thanks to a one-yard run by Sieh Bangura. In his first game back from injury, Bangura finished with a career-best 145 yards, including a 64-yard run in the second half.
"Being able to run the ball well, it opens up the pass a little bit,” Rourke said.
Luckily for the Bobcats, when their offense struggled to capitalize in the first half, their defense picked up the slack, holding the RedHawks to just seven points in the first half. Even when their offense picked up in the third quarter, the Bobcats’ defense didn’t back off.
Ohio started the third quarter with one of its best drives of the game, gaining 76 yards on 13 plays. The drive ended in Ohio’s second touchdown, a 13-yard pass to Bangura deep in the red zone.
Ohio held on to the ball for 7:20 on that drive, making it the longest of the game. Ohio had the ball for the majority of the second half, which limited Miami’s opportunities to score late in the game. In the end, Ohio’s time of possession was just over 41 minutes, while Miami’s was almost 19.
If Ohio was going to win Tuesday, it needed to put a hole in Miami’s defense one way or another. Miami’s defense is the key to its team and is the reason for some of its biggest wins at Kent State and Northwestern this season. It did just that.
“We had drives in the first half that we couldn’t capitalize on,” Rourke said. “In the second half, we knew that if we wanted to win the game we had to score some touchdowns.”
Rourke ended the night with 362 passing yards and three touchdowns, marking another stellar night for him. Ohio also had three receivers with more than 50 yards in Jacoby Jones, James Bostic and Miles Cross. Miami only had one: Mac Hippenhammer.
In addition, Ohio’s defense limited Miami to just one third down conversion on seven tries. The defense had two big stops on fourth down as well that shut down Miami and gave its own offense more opportunities.
“Huge momentum on third down and on fourth down,” Albin said. “They both may have been in the second half, but the stops are great for the offense and their mojo.”
With the win, the Bobcats retain their first place spot in the MAC East and are inching closer to a trip to Detroit for the MAC Championship. They control their own destiny, which is looking bright with only two games left in the season.