ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio football team (4-3, 2-1 MAC) put together its most complete performance of the 2018 season to date, besting Mid-American Conference East Division rival Bowling Green (1-7, 0-4 MAC), 49-14, in front of a Homecoming crowd of 19,492 today at Peden Stadium.
"I think our guys played very well today," said 14th-year head coach Frank Solich. "It might have been the first four-quarter ballgame we played at this level. That was really good to see. I thought all three units did some excellent things. Offense, defense, and special teams, as you go through it all, they played a complete ball game.
Junior quarterback Nathan Rourke (Oakville, Ontario, Canada) accounted for five total touchdowns, throwing a career-high four touchdown passes and adding another on the ground. He completed of 8-of-12 passes for 193 yards and carried the ball 10 times for 101 yards. Redshirt senior wide receiver Papi White (Seminole, Okla.) caught two touchdown passes and ran for another for his first three-touchdown performance of his career. He finished with a team-high 92 receiving yards. Redshirt senior wide receiver Andrew Meyer (Canal Winchester, Ohio) hauled in a team-high three receptions for 52 yards and caught a touchdown -- his second receiving score in the last three games. Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Cameron Odom (Bedford, Ohio) hauled in his second touchdown catch of the season. Redshirt senior running back Maleek Irons (Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada) racked up a game-high 116 rushing yards, marking his second 100-yard rushing performance of the year.
"It was a long time coming it felt like," said Rourke. "We've had some games we haven't played to our fullest potential and some games that we would want back. Today was definitely a game that we felt that we had accomplished more than we had left out there. This is the kind of stuff we expect out of ourselves. Obviously, it wasn't a perfect game. There are some things we need to correct, but we're very happy with where we're at and hoping we build off of this."
Defensively, the Bobcats limited the Falcons to 14 points and 314 total yards of offense -- the lowest output of the season by an opposing offense in both categories. Redshirt senior linebacker Tyler Gullett (La Grange, Ohio) led Ohio with nine total tackles (four solo, five assisted) -- including a sack. Senior linebacker Evan Croutch (Youngstown, Ohio) recorded his second interception of the season while junior defensive lineman Cole Baker (Pinson, Ala.) tallied his first career forced fumble and redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Will Evans (Augusta, Ga.) pounced on its for his first career fumble recovery. Bowling Green had possession of the ball just three times in the final 30 minutes of the ballgame.
"We've been waiting for a complete game all year and finally being able to do that, that's how our defense should be and that's how it is every week and we need to bring that," said Croutch. "It did feel a lot better."
Bowling Green landed the first punch of the game when sophomore quarterback Jarret Doege threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Scott Miller on the fourth play of the contest.
Ohio fired back, though, on its first possession of the game as White scored a rushing touchdown from 17 yards to cap off a 12-play, 78-yard drive. The Bobcats ran the ball 10 times on their opening drive, picking up all 78 of its yards on the ground.
After forcing Bowling Green to punt on its next drive, Rourke threw a 16-yard touchdown strike to White to put the Bobcats in front. A 25-yard scramble by Rourke helped set up the go-ahead score on the seven-play, 69-yard drive.
The Falcons got the ball back and marched 75 yards in nine plays, with Doege throwing a seven-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver RB Marlow III, allowing Bowling Green to even the score.
Ohio answered right back, though, with Rourke throwing a 76-yard touchdown pass to White on the first play of the Bobcats' next drive. The touchdown pass marked the longest completion of Rourke's career and longest reception of White's career.
The Bobcats put a stop to Bowling Green's ensuing drive when senior linebacker Evan Croutch (Youngstown, Ohio) picked off Doege at the Falcons' 36-yard line. Three plays later, Rourke found redshirt senior wide receiver Andrew Meyer (Canal Winchester, Ohio) for 24-yard touchdown pass.
Ohio turned a turnover into points late in the second quarter. Baker forced Bowling Green redshirt sophomore running back Bryson Denley to fumble, with redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Will Evans (Augusta, Ga.) recovering at the Ohio 16. The Bobcats then drove 84 yards in nine plays. A nine-yard run by Irons, a 22-yard pass from Rourke to redshirt freshman wide receiver Isiah Cox (Jasper, Ala.), an 11 -yard run by Rourke and a 14-yard run by Irons moved the ball to the Bowling Green 36. Two plays later, Rourke kept it himself and scored from 20 yards out to give the Bobcats a 35-14 lead heading into halftime.
Ohio's lead swelled to 42-14 on its second drive of the third quarter. Rourke got it started with a 19-yard completion to Meyer. After back-to-back runs of 15 yards by Irons, Rourke ripped off a 12-yard run. Irons picked up nine more yards on his third carry of the drive, setting up a 15-yard touchdown pass from Rourke to Odom.
The Bobcats added one final score on their first drive of the fourth quarter. On in relief of Rourke, redshirt junior quarterback Quinton Maxwell (Rayville, Mo.) engineered a 10-play, 86-yard drive. After back-to-back runs of 17 yards and 16 yards by Irons, Maxwell kept it himself and scored from five yards out two plays later.
Doege finished 19-of-24 through the air with 214 passing yards, two touchdown passes and an interception. Miller hauled in a game-high six receptions for a game-high 145 receiving yards. Junior defensive back Jerry McBride III logged a game-high 10 total tackles (three solo, seven assisted) for the Falcons.
Ohio opens midweek MACtion next Thursday (Oct. 25), when it welcomes Ball State (3-5, 2-2 MAC) to Peden Stadium for a 7 p.m. matchup. The contest will be nationally televised on either ESPN2 or CBS Sports Network. The matchup will serve as Ohio's annual Blackout Game, with this year's theme being 'Thursday Night Lights.' Click here for ticket information or call 1-800-575-CATS (2287).