Ohio University players Amos Ogun-Semore, left to right, Bryce Houston, and Kaieem Caesar celebrate after the Bobcat’s season opener at Peden Stadium on Saturday, September 1, 2018. Bobcats defeated Howard University 38 – 32. (Haldan Kirsch/WOUB)

Ohio Football: Rourke benched as Bobcats struggle in home opener

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ATHENS, OH- A game against an FCS opponent to open the season normally answers questions for a football team, instead the Ohio Bobcats are asking more questions after squeaking by the Howard Bison 38-32 on Saturday afternoon.

The main question being asked after the loss is at quarterback. Nathan Rourke, who was listed on three preseason national award watchlists, was benched early in the contest.

Three unproductive offensive possessions by Ohio forced Rourke to the bench in favor of Quinton Maxwell. Rourke finished 2 for 8 with 44 yards passing and left the game with the Bobcats trailing 16-3.

“His three series were not good series,” said Ohio coach Frank Solich, “It’s a matter of trying to win the ballgame.”

Maxwell, who started the 2017 season opener, stepped up in replacement of Rourke. Maxwell completed 17/25 passes for 233 yards and 2 touchdowns. Many of Maxwell’s passes went to Papi White who set a career high for receiving yards. White caught eight passes for 154 yards and a TD.

“We have two quarterbacks that can win for us” was the answer by Solich when asked about the future of the Bobcats quarterback situation. An answer he has been giving since the beginning of the 2017 season.

The Bobcats were outgained 645-423 on Saturday as the Howard stars ran wild. Caylin Newton, younger brother of NFL

The Bobcats’ defense struggled to slow down Jequezz Ezzard and the rest of the Howard offense, who had 645 total yards of total offense on Saturday. (Haldan Kirsch/WOUB)

quarterback Cam Newton, threw for 439 yards and ran for 93 scoring four total touchdowns. Newton’s favorite target was Jequezz Ezzard who totaled 223 yards with a touchdown.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do defensively, no question about it,” said Solich.

The weapons were certainly a problem for Ohio as the defense was forced to snuff out two fourth quarter drives by Howard to secure the victory.

A bright spot for Ohio was the special teams, highlighted by DL Knock’s 99 yard kick return to open the second half, it was the first kick return for a TD by Ohio since 2012.

After the win Ohio will have an early season bye week before a tough two-game out of conference road stretch.

The Bobcats will battle the Virginia Cavaliers from the ACC on September 15 at 3:00pm in Charlottesville.