In its first game of Mid-American Conference play, Ohio traveled to Bowling Green and played its best football of the year. With a score of 38-7, Ohio set the tone for how it wants to play the rest of the MAC season.
Ohio never saw a deficit Saturday evening and got off to its best start of any game all season. By the end of the first quarter, the score was 21-0. The first quarter was Ohio’s highest-scoring quarter all season.
“I’m very happy with the win here today on the road in the first conference game of the season,” Ohio Coach Tim Albin said. “All three phases played really well today, the defense came out and played like they have for four straight games, now five.”
Starting on defense, Ohio continued its run of dominance to start the season. Linebacker Keye Thompson picked off Bowling Green Quarterback Connor Bazelak on just the third play from scrimmage.
An early turnover took the life out of a Bowling Green crowd that was celebrating the university's homecoming. The nearly sold-out crowd was quickly silenced by a fast start for the Ohio defense.
“We talked before the game about how this would be a hostile environment, we had to keep our cool,” Ohio Defensive Back Austin Brawley said. “We came into this saying it was our homecoming. We knew we had to come out here and make some plays.”
Ohio’s first touchdown came shortly after the interception on an impressive pass from Kurtis Rourke down the left sideline to Sieh Bangura. On the pass, Rourke rolled right to avoid a heavy rush and was able to loft the ball to a wide-open Bangura right at the last second before being hit hard.
Following its opening drive interception, Ohio’s defense continued the team's hot start by forcing a quick three-and-out. Rourke then led Ohio on a 79-yard drive that showcased the best offense the team has shown all season. Rourke completed back-to-back deep passes, the first being 42 yards to Jacoby Jones followed by a 20-yard pass to Sam Wiglusz.
“I thought Kurtis played very well, it's a tough environment,” Albin said. “The throw that was reviewed on their sideline, I couldn't even see Jacoby. It was great coverage, he (Rourke) dropped a dime and he (Jones) made a great catch.”
The drive was capped off by a touchdown reception by Tight End Will Kacemarek on a ball that was tipped by the Bowling Green defense and fell right into the hands of Ohio’s tight end.
Ohio capped off the first quarter with another great defensive effort when Bowling Green running back Jaison Patterson fumbled as a result of a tackle from Torrie Cox Jr. and Bryce Houston. The ball was returned 71 yards into the end zone by Thompson.
Heading into the second quarter with a 21-point lead, Ohio did not let its foot off the gas on either side of the ball. After an early field goal for the offense, the defense stepped up with yet another fumble returned for a touchdown. Bryce Houston was able to get to the running back in the backfield and strip the ball free right to the hands of Ramon Parodie.
Going into the half, Ohio had a 31-0 lead.
The second half featured a lot less scoring and a lot more penalties. In a game that was not particularly close, tension rose in the second half. Bowling Green ended the game with a total of 123 yards in penalties alone. Among those penalties included a handful of unsportsmanlike conduct calls and three ejections.
In the third, Ohio only found the endzone once on a 19-yard pass from Rourke to the back corner of the endzone that found receiver Miles Cross. At that point in the game, Ohio had a 38-point lead.
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter against Ohio’s second-string defense that Bowling Green was able to mount a drive worthy of a touchdown.
Terion Stewart was one of the few bright spots for the Falcons; the sophomore running back gained 107 total yards including a late 46-yard rush that put them in scoring range. Stewart was responsible for Bowling Green’s only touchdown of the game.
By the fourth quarter, Ohio had taken out its offensive starters. Rourke left the game in the fourth with 196 passing yards and three passing touchdowns. Rourke’s three touchdowns equate to more than he has had in each of his first three starts combined.
Ohio will see a bye week next weekend before a homecoming matchup against Kent State on Oct. 7. Ohio will have two weeks to prepare for Kent State, the only in-conference team that was able to defeat the team during last year's regular season.