AMHERST, Mass. – Behind two rushing touchdowns from redshirt senior running back Dorian Brown (Pittsburgh, PA) the Ohio football team defeated the UMass Minutemen 58-50 on Saturday afternoon at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium.
Along with the touchdowns, Brown rushed for 73 yards, his long of 42 coming late in the fourth quarter, which put the game too far out of reach.
The Bobcats (4-1) offense finished the game with 473 yards on the day, scoring seven touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Nathan Rourke (Ontario, Canada) accounted for 294 yards of Ohio's offense, passing for two touchdowns and running for two.
Redshirt senior linebacker Quentin Poling (Gomer, Ohio) led the defensive effort, finishing the game with 19 tackles, a career-high. The Bobcats reached the UMass quarterback two times and forced seven pass break ups.
The win also marked head coach Frank Solich's 150th career win.
"I didn't really pay much attention," Solich said. "It didn't really hit me until they threw the ball at me. I've been around a lot of great coaches and players, if you're in it as long as I am, you hope you get some wins."
The first quarter saw both teams' offense go-to work. After the Bobcat defense held UMass to a 24-yard field goal on the first possession of the game, Ohio went to work on offense. Redshirt junior A.J. Ouellette's (Covington, Ohio) longest run of the drive was a 29-yard dash and the drive would be capped with a five-yard touchdown run by, putting Ohio up 7-3 in the early minutes of the game.
On UMass' next drive, The Minutemen drove down the field and capped off the drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown from Ross Comis, putting UMass up 10-7.
After the Bobcat offense was stopped on their next drive, UMass would close out the first quarter with the ball and open the second quarter with a 35-yard field goal to increase their lead to 13-7.
The Bobcats first possession of the second quarter started with a 67-yard kick-off return by freshman Julian Ross (Kansas City, Mo.), the longest of his career. Two plays later, Rourke would connect with redshirt senior Brendan Cope (Warren, Ohio) on a 16-yard corner touchdown, putting Ohio up 14-13.
It wouldn't take long for Ohio to get the ball back. After Payne recovered a UMass fumble, Rourke would take the ball two plays later and run it into the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown, his second of the game. After redshirt sophomore Louie Zervos (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) connected on the point after attempt, the Bobcats took a 21-13 lead.
Moments later, the Ohio defense would come up big again, with Moore intercepting Andrew Ford and returning it 33-yards to the UMass 40-yard line, setting up a 25-yard field goal from Zervos, increasing their lead to 24-13.
In total, the Bobcats scored 17 points in the span of two minutes and fifty-three seconds.
On the ensuing kickoff, UMass returner Marquis Young returned the ball 81 yards to the Ohio six-yard line. One play later, UMass would score on a six-yard touchdown pass to Adam Breneman, cutting the Ohio lead to 24-20.
UMass would go on to take a 27-24 lead with 2:26 left in the second quarter.
The Bobcats put together a 12 play, 45-yard drive that took 1:48 off the clock and was capped off by a 23-yard Zervos field goal, tying the game at 27-27 going into halftime.
At the end of the first half had 179 yards of total offense with 105 yards on the ground and 74 in the air. Meanwhile, UMass had 266 yards of total offense, with 104 rushing yards and 162 passing yards.
In the first half, Rourke went 7-of-16 with 74 yards and one passing touchdown. Ouellette had 55 rushing yards while Rourke had 46 and two touchdowns. Cope led Ohio's receiving core in the first half, snagging three passes for 38 yards.
The Bobcats would get the ball to open the second half and on the first play of the drive, Rourke would connect with Cope on a 48-yard completion, putting Ohio in UMass territory. A few minutes later, the Bobcats would take the lead on a five-yard rushing touchdown from Ouellette, putting Ohio up 34-27.
Ohio would get the ball back with a little over 11 minutes to go in the third quarter and would put together a 10-play drive that went 79 yards and took 4:24 off the clock that resulted in a 12-yard receiving touchdown for Ouellette, putting Ohio up 41-27.
"Our offense is just experienced, whatever teams are going to throw at us we have an answer for," Ouellette said. "Every single one of big runs, our offensive line stepped up. We're just doing our job and executing."
After the Ohio defense forced UMass to turn the ball over on downs on the Ohio 20-yard line, the Bobcats would fumble the snap on the next play, with the ball rolling in the end zone and was recovered Brown but would result in a safety for the Minutemen, making the score 41-29.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Ohio defense would again force UMass to turn the ball over on downs, starting the Bobcats' drive on the Ohio 25-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Ouellette would take the ball for his biggest gain of the game with the 60-yard carry, setting Ohio up on the UMass 15-yard line. Brown would then promptly take the ball for a 15-yard rushing touchdown to increase the Ohio lead to 48-29.
On their next possession, UMass would put together a three-minute drive that would cover 70 yards in 13 plays and result in a touchdown. The Minutemen would then attempt the two-point conversion, but it would be unsuccessful, making the score 48-38 with 10 minutes to go in the game.
Following the UMass drive, the Bobcats got the ball back and put together another scoring drive. During the drive, Rourke had back-to-back rushes of 16 and 26-yards, setting up Zervos' 34-yard field goal, increasing Ohio's lead to 51-35.
The last Ohio score of the game came late in the fourth quarter when Brown broke through for a 42-yard run, putting the game out of reach.
Ohio returns to play next Saturday, Oct. 7 for a Homecoming matchup against Mid-American Conference West Division foe Central Michigan. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. ET.