Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post
Ohio University quarterback, Kurtis Rourke (7) attempts to run a route against Western Michigan at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio, Oct. 21, 2023

Football: Ohio fends off Western Michigan 20-17 to become bowl eligible

Ohio (6-2, 3-1 Mid-American Conference) may not have been flawless on both sides of the ball in its 20-17 victory over Western Michigan (2-6, 1-3 Mid-American Conference), but it did enough to keep its home winning streak alive and become bowl eligible.

Rebounding from an ugly offensive performance against NIU, Ohio may have wanted to get out to a bit of a faster start against Western Michigan. Rourke managed two key completions on third downs to keep Ohio's offense on the field for its first drive, but a penalty on third and goal and incompletion from Rourke forced the Bobcats to settle for a field goal.

As Ohio's offense struggled to settle in, Ohio's defense, led by Keye Thompson and Bryce Houston, continued to make plays to keep the Broncos off the scoreboard. Western Michigan led multiple drives deep into Ohio's territory but went scoreless after penalties and two missed field goals.

Ohio's ability to stop Western Michigan in the red zone was instrumental in Ohio's win.

"With us older guys, it's all about staying poised, handling the pressure and the adversity, so when you get down to the red zone, you know what your assignment is, you know what your alignment is," Thompson said.

Ohio's first real spark came late in the second quarter when Tank Pearson picked off Hayden Wolff to stop a promising Western Michigan drive.

Rourke came back on the very next drive with a 17-yard completion to Miles Cross and a beautiful 38-yard pass that landed perfectly in the outstretched hands of Sam Wiglusz to set up Ohio in field goal range. Ohio had a chance to go for a touchdown at the Western Michigan 2-yard line with just 4 seconds left, but Albin was satisfied with a 6-point advantage at halftime.

Although Ohio had more red zone struggles to start the second half, the offense still managed to move the ball well. Ohio couldn't come away with points on its opening drive of the third quarter after a 40-yard field goal was no good from kicker Gianni Spetic, but the team's ability to move the ball through the air and on the ground continued the rest of the game.

Ohio surrendered its first points of the game on a field goal drive, but its offense was quick to come up with a response.

The biggest play of Ohio's first touchdown drive was a quarterback draw from Kurtis Rourke, which resulted in 25 yards. A pair of Western Michigan penalties put Ohio inside the 2-yard line and Sieh Bangura would score Ohio's first touchdown with a 1-yard run.

Ohio's comfortable two-score lead wouldn't last long. The Broncos took the ensuing kickoff to the Bobcats' 41-yard line. Hayden Wolff completed a 20-yard pass on the second play of the drive and a few plays later, Wolff scrambled into the end zone on a 3-yard touchdown run.

Ohio was hit with some misfortune when another quality drive ended in a missed Spetic field goal from 27 yards out. With just a 3-point lead, Ohio's defense came up with a crucial stop, led by a sack from Torrie Cox Jr.

After a 17-yard completion from Rourke to Wiglusz, Ohio relied on its rushing attack to move all the way down the field. Bangura had gains of 16 and 22 yards to put Ohio in the red zone. On a crucial third and 3 with only 4:36 to go, Rourke found Wiglusz open in the back corner of the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown.

Kurtis Rourke had a solid day for Ohio, completing 62% of his passes for 275 yards and a touchdown. Most of Rourke's yards were accounted for by Sam Wiglusz who had 10 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown.

Like it had done earlier in the half, Western Michigan answered with its own touchdown. After a targeting penalty on Ohio and a couple of pass completions, Wolff found Kenneth Wommack for an 8-yard touchdown.

Ohio had the ball with just over 2 minutes to go and needed a first down to ice out the game. When Ohio needed him, O'Shaan Allison inched the Bobcats toward the first down marker with a 6-yard run and a 3-yard run on first and second downs. Allison then got just enough to pick up the first down and secure Ohio's sixth victory with a score of 20-17.

Ohio finished the game with an impressive 185 rushing yards. Bangura led the way with 86 yards on 15 carries including a touchdown, while Allison wasn't far behind with 64 yards.

As a former running backs coach, Ohio Head Coach Tim Albin was impressed with the way Bangura and Allison ran the ball.

"Our running backs, that dynamic duo with Sieh (Bangurra) and O'Shaan (Allison), those guys were running hard," Albin said.

Ohio will want to enjoy its win to become bowl-eligible, but the team is already excited about the challenge against Miami next week.

"It's a rivalry game, battle of the bricks. I'm glad we've got them at home," Albin said. "Our student section is going to be insanely crazy."


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH