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Ohio quarterback, Kurtis Rourke, 7, and teammates celebrate a rushing touchdown against Kent State at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio, Oct. 7, 2023.

Football: Ohio picks up dominant 42-17 Homecoming win

Ohio (5-1, 2-0 Mid-American Conference) performed as you'd expect coming off a bye in front of a packed Homecoming crowd. Ohio's 42-17 win against Kent State (1-5, 0-2 MAC) was decided by the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.

In the first quarter, it didn't look like the blowout Ohio delivered to Kent State. Both teams struggled to maintain offensive consistency early on while trading punts. It wasn't until Kurtis Rourke found Miles Cross wide-open in the end zone that the Bobcats scored the first points of the game.

Kent State answered with a deep touchdown pass from Michael Alaimo to Chrishon McCray for 42 yards. Alaimo and McCray took advantage of an Ohio defender who lost his balance in coverage, leaving McCray open along the sideline for a touchdown.

After a couple more punts, Ohio moved the ball well on another offensive drive via the arm of Kurtis Rourke. On a two-play 41-yard scoring drive, Rourke found Miles Cross for a 10-plus-yard completion and followed it up with a spectacular 30-yard touchdown pass to Sam Wiglusz. After a perfectly thrown ball by Rourke, Wiglusz had a one-handed grab in the end zone to put the Bobcats back in front.

The Bobcats were able to quickly force a three-and-out after a tackle for loss from Rodney Matthews and a sack from Rayyan Buell. Ohio's defense finished the game with six sacks, along with 10 total tackles for loss.

With only two and a half minutes to go, a 32-yard pass from Rourke to Cross put Ohio inside the Kent State 10. On third and goal from the 4-yard line, Rourke used a pump fake and a sharp cut to run into the end zone for his third touchdown of the game.

Coming out of halftime with a 21-7 lead, the Bobcats' defense didn't look like itself, with several penalties allowing the Golden Flashes to get in field goal range. The Bobcats' pass defense held firm to limit the damage. Rourke and Cross linked up on Ohio's next offensive drive to further soften the blow.

Cross finished the game as Ohio's leading receiver with seven catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

After a 50-yard pass completion to Tyler Foster, Rourke made another accurate pass in the back corner of the end zone to Miles Cross who tipped the ball to himself and made a contested touchdown grab.

Rourke ended the game with 300 yards passing and four total touchdowns.

Ohio's defense made amends for its mistakes on the very next drive when Rodney Matthews pressured Michael Alaimo who threw a wobbly pass that was intercepted by a diving Bryce Houston.

Ohio Coach Tim Albin was impressed with the way the Bobcats responded from a bit of an ugly start to the second half.

"I talked to the team (after the game), I mean I forgot to kind of say a few things about the game," Albin said. "I said, 'Guys, we won the game,' because it was like they were looking like we lost the game. They want to be great, they want perfection." 

Perfectly set up in Kent State territory, Sieh Bangura used his legs for his first rushing touchdown in weeks on a 3-yard touchdown run.

Ohio made it five touchdown drives in its last six with another 3-yard touchdown run by Bangura.

On only nine carries, Bangura made his presence felt. The sophomore running back had 41 yards and two touchdowns.

For Bangura, his two rushing touchdowns meant a little more than usual, given they were his first of the season.

"I was hungry, I wanted to get in there, I wanted to help the team, I put points on the board for the team," Bangura said. "So it felt real good to get in there twice."

Ohio finished the game with a 42-17 win, its second win of 25 or more points, both of which were in MAC play.

According to Albin, Ohio still isn't perfect but made progress in its win.

"I thought all three phases, we got better. We're not a finished product yet, but we took a step today," Albin said. "You know, back on the Frank, in front of our fans and it's Homecoming, there's not a better place in the country than here to get the win."


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