KENT, OHIO – The Ohio Bobcats overcame a pair of double-digit deficits, scoring the winning touchdown with 1:28 remaining to defeat the Kent State Golden Flashes 27-26 Saturday afternoon at Dix Stadium.
Sophomore quarterback Nathan Rourke completed the comeback with an 8-yard twisting and turning run into the end zone to give Ohio (3-2,1-0 MAC) its second consecutive victory. It was the 'Cats fifth straight win over Kent State (1-5, 0-2 MAC).
“It seems like this is what it has been all season. We have a lot of things to improve on.” Ohio head coach Frank Solich said. “It was a throwing game today, and we get a lot done offensively and the defense came up with the big plays late in the game.”
With 5:07 remaining, and KSU holding a 26-21 lead, Rourke engineered the winning drive -- a nine-plays trip covering 82 yards. That critical drive was aided by a personal foul penalty on KSU for hitting Rourke out of bounds.
When asked about his quarterback, Solich said ““He had another tremendous game. If you have 70 or 80 plays and only two of those are not so good, you had a pretty good day. If you look at everything that he accomplished, not only in the throwing game, but running too. He did not let the first guy bring him down, and he fought for extra yards. He is uncanny at that as a quarterback. He is a great player and we are glad we have him.”
Ohio missed on the two-point coversion when Rourke, who finished the game going 16-of-20 passing for 284 yards, was stopped just short of the goal line. Rourke also rushed for 49 yards.
The Flashes had a chance to win the game with a field goal. Starting from the KSU 25-yard line sophomore QB Woody Barrett got the ball to the Ohio 47. After a penalty moved the ball back to the other side of midfield, Barrett went deep down the left sideline, but it was intercepted by safety Javon Hagan to end the game.
“Obviously this one hurts. We came up short. KSU head coach Sean Lewis said. “We need to do a better job at finishing ... Too often we settled for field goals in the red zone and not getting touchdowns.
"We need to do a better job at showing up and preparation during the week so we can find ourselves one-point ahead and not one-point behind. Very proud of the kids and how they competed and we look forward to the next opportunity."
It was Kent State's third straight loss overall and its seventh in MAC play dating back to last season.
Ohio, meanwhile, once again overcame a slow start. On the first play of the game, Barrett hit freshman WR Isiah McKoy, who went down the right side into the end zone for a 7-0 Flashes lead. McKoy ended the afternoon with eight catches for 118 yards
Barrett completed 27-of-35 passes for 271 yards and a pair of touchdowns.He also threw a couple of interceptions.
The Flashes doubled their lead on their next possession, grinding out an 80-yard, 10-play drive. Barrett found junior WR Mike Carrigan over the middle in the end zone from one yard out to make it 14-0.
Late in the opening period, Ohio started moving the football and got on the scoreboard as Rourke engineered a 66-yard, 10-play drive that culminated with a one-yard run from fifth-year senior running back A.J. Ouelette to make the score 14-7.
The 'Cats had a chance close the margin just before halftime. But facing a fourth and one from the KSU 21, Rourke fumbled. Fifth-year senior DE Jordan Silva recovered for the Flashes. It was the first of two turnovers that could have really cost the Green and White.
Barrett moved the Flashes from their own 23, moving the ball to the Ohio 15 . With time winding down, kicker Matthew Trickett connected on a career high 49-yard field goal. It was the first of five on the afternoon and raised KSU’s lead to 17-7 at halftime.
Ohio's offense again moved the football as the third quarter opened, moving to the KSU 17. However, Ouelette fumbled and freshman LB Matt Harmon recovered for KSU.
Thanks to a 37-yard blast and run by Justin Rankin, who had 123 yards rushing on the day, the Flashes moved from their own 14 to the Bobcats 23 before Ohio's defense stiffened. Trickett came on for his second field goal, a 39-yarder making the score 20-7.
The turnaround for Ohio began on its next possession as Rourke found fifth-year senior WR Andrew Meyer over the middle and behind the defender for 59 yards. That touchdown narrowed Ohio's deficit to 20-14.
The Flashes answered a score of their own, and again it was with a field goal. Barrett moved the offense to the Ohio 20. Again the Cats stalled KSU and Trickett kicked his fourth field goal 23-14.
Rourke again got the 'Cats offense rolling, engineering a 73-yard seven-play drive that ended with Ouelette’s second touchdown a 5-yarder up the middle to make the score 23-21
KSU again moved the ball from their own 23 to Ohio nine. The drive was aided on a pass interference penalty on a play when Barrett appeared to throw an interception. Again, however, the 'Cats made the Flashes settle for three, with Trickett connecting for the fifth time from 28-yards to make th score 26-21. Ohio followed with its winning drive.
On the afternoon, the two teams combined for 886 yards of total offense (472 by KSU -- fourth time this season with 400 yards of total offense --and 414 for Ohio).
Defensively, Ohio was led by Evan Croutch with 11 tackles (nine solo) Oi jad two sacks, 12 tackles for losses , two interceptions a forced fumble and fumble recovery. KSU's defense was paced by Kaesean Gamble with eight total stops (seven solo). The Flashes also had two sacks two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an interceoption.
Both teams are in action next Saturday with Ohio traveling to Northern Illinois to face a Huskies team that won its third straight MAC game, winning at Ball State 24-16. Kent State heads to Miami. The RedHawks won their second conference game of the season at Akron, defeating the Zips 41-17.