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Ohio Football's Comeback Bid Falls Short At Miami

Ohio Football's Comeback Bid Falls Short At Miami

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OXFORD, Ohio -- The Ohio football team (6-4, 4-2 MAC) battled back in the second half but could not overcome a 21-point halftime deficit, falling to Mid-American Conference archrival Miami (4-6-, 4-2 MAC), 30-28, tonight in the Battle of the Bricks at Yager Stadium.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Bobcats.

Redshirt senior running back A.J. Ouellette (Covington, Ohio) ran for a career-high 168 yards on 15 attempts for Ohio, averaging 11.2 yards per carry. Ouellette posted his second 100-yard performance in the last three games and 11th of his career, with the latter ranking as the seventh-most in program history.

Junior quarterback Nathan Rourke (Oakville, Ontario, Canada) went 16-of-27 for 163 yards and two touchdown passes. Redshirt senior wide receiver Papi White (Seminole, Okla.) caught a team-high five passes for a team-high 44 yards and hauled in a touchdown reception -- his team-high eighth of the season. Redshirt senior wide receiver Andrew Meyer (Canal Winchester, Ohio) caught three passes for 34 yards and tallied his fourth touchdown reception in the last six games.

Ohio scored on its opening drive for the second game in a row, jumping out to a quick 7-0 lead. The Bobcats picked up all 74 of their yards on the ground, with a season-long run of 58 yards by Ouellette setting Ohio up with a 1st-and-goal at the Miami seven yard line. Three plays later, redshirt senior running back Maleek Irons (Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada) ran it into the end zone from three yards out to put the Bobcats in front. Irons scored his career-high seventh touchdown of the year.

The RedHawks responded with a touchdown on their first drive of the contest. Redshirt senior quarterback Gus Ragland completed passes on back-to-back third downs to help Miami move the ball to the Ohio three. He found redshirt junior Luke Mayock for a gain of 33 yard on 3rd-and-4, then completed a 17-yard pass to Mayock on 3rd-and-11. On the next play, redshirt senior running back Alonzo Smith scored a three-yard rushing touchdown to help Miami even the score.

Miami took a 14-7 lead with 11:12 left in the second quarter, engineering a 12-play, 71-yard drive that ended with redshirt senior running back Kenny Young running it in from 16 yards out. An 18-yard completion from Ragland to redshirt senior wide receiver Jack Sorenson helped set up the score.

After forcing the Bobcats to punt, the RedHawks extended their lead to 21-7. Ragland threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Mayock to cap off an eight-play, 66-yard drive. 

On Ohio's next drive, Rourke completed a 23-yard pass to redshirt freshman wide receiver Isiah Cox (Jasper, Ala.), but redshirt senior linebacker Brad Koening forced a fumble that was recovered by junior linebacker Myles Reid, who returned it 13 yards to give Miami the ball at the Ohio 48. Ragland then completed passes of 19 yards to redshirt junior tight end Nate Becker and 21 yards to Young to set up an eight-yard touchdown run by Smith and helping the RedHawks take a 28-7 lead into halftime.

After its opening drive of the game, Ohio was limited to just 69 yards the rest of the first half.

After the two teams traded punts on the first two drives of the second half, the Ohio defense came up with a big play. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Jared Dorsa (Kings Mills, Ohio) intercepted Ragland and returned the pick three yards to give Ohio possession at the Miami 46. A nine-yard pass from Rourke to Odom and a 10-yard run by Irons gave the Bobcats a first down at the Miami 27. On 2nd-and-20, Rourke ran for a gain of 12 yards, then picked up six more yards on third down to set up a 4th-and-2 from the 19. Ohio went for it, and Rourke found White for a gain of 10 to give the Bobcats a fresh set of downs. On 3rd-and-goal, Rourke spotted White in the corner of the end zone, who came down with a spectacular juggling touchdown reception to make it a two-score game. The touchdown catch marked the 18th of White's career, which tied him with LaVon Brazill (18; 2007-11) for third-most in program history.

The Bobcats forced the RedHawks to punt again on the next drive. A 46-yard run by Ouellette on the first play of Ohio's ensuing drive put the ball on the Miami 25. The drive stalled though, and redshirt junior kicker Louie Zervos (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) came on to attempt a 29-yard field goal. His try missed wide left however, allowing Miami to maintain a 28-14 lead with just over 14 minutes to go.

Ohio's defense clamped down on Miami's next drive and forced the RedHawks to punt it away once again. Redshirt junior punter Kyle Kramer could not cleanly get the punt off, though, and Dorsa blocked the attempted kick. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Dylan Conner (Fort Wayne, Ind.) was there to scoop up the loose ball and return it 28 yards for a touchdown to make it a seven-point contest. The Bobcats turned a blocked punt into a touchdown return for the second week in a row.

The Bobcats forced Miami to punt yet again on the next drive, but this time Kramer produced a 47-yard punt that went out of bounds at the Ohio one-yard line. Ohio was unable to get out of the shadow of its own end zone, and Rourke was flushed out of the pocket and forced to step out of the end zone by Miami junior defensive lineman Doug Costin, which resulted in a safety that allowed the RedHawks to extend their lead to 30-21 with just under six minutes remaining.

The RedHawks punted again on the ensuing drive. The Bobcats then marched 80 yards in seven plays and 2:16, with passes of 13 yards to Meyer and 22 yards to White by Rourke moving the ball to the Miami 38. Two plays later, a personal foul penalty on Miami redshirt sophomore linebacker Cam Turner advanced the ball 15 more yards. Rourke then hit Meyer for an 18-yard touchdown two plays later to help make it a two-point game with 2:22 to go.

Miami recovered an onside kick attempt by redshirt junior punter/kicker Michael Farkas (Mishawaka, Ind.) but gave the ball back to the Bobcats with 30 seconds left. Rourke completed a 19-yard pass to Ouellette to set up a Hail Mary attempt by redshirt junior quarterback Quinton Maxwell (Rayville, Mo.) from Ohio's 45 yard line, but his desperation heave was off the mark and the game ended with a two-point loss for the Bobcats.

Defensively, Ohio was led by redshirt senior safety Kylan Nelson (Lexington, Ky.) and senior linebacker Evan Croutch (Youngstown, Ohio), who each finished with nine total tackles to tie for the team lead. Croutch recorded two sacks. Redshirt junior safety Javon Hagan (Jacksonville, Fla.) recorded eight total tackles. In addition to his interception and blocked punt, Dorsa recorded seven total tackles.

Ragland finished 20-of-32 for 199 yards, a touchdown and an interception for Miami. Smith ran for 94 yards on 20 attempts and scored two rushing touchdowns. Young ran for 37 yards and a touchdown on seven touches and also caught a team-high seven passes for a team-high 67 yards for the RedHawks.

Ohio returns to Peden Stadium next Wednesday (Nov. 14) to host Buffalo. The contest will kickoff at 7 p.m. and will be nationally televised on ESPN2. It will be Faculty & Staff Night at Peden Stadium, with Ohio University faculty and staff members receiving free admission to the game. Click here for ticket information or call 1-800-575-CATS (2287).

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