O’Shaan Allison (28) makes a few defenders miss during the Ohio Spring Game on April 14, 2019. PHOTO: Ben Wielgopolski/WOUB

Ohio Football: ‘Cats First Scrimmage Shows Intensity and Promise

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ATHENS — For a football player, there’s nothing quite like the first time you get to go full pads and just play football.

For the first time during this training camp, the Bobcats got to do just that on Saturday morning. The ‘Cats held their first scrimmage of the new season, going offense versus defense for nearly 80 plays of full-contact football.

Naturally, emotions bubbled to the surface a few times, but head coach Frank Solich insists it’s all in good fun with this team.

“I let it go. They should have fun. I’ve grown up most of my life without having fun,” Solich said. “It’s an emotional game and if you take that away from them, you’re not helping your cause. I’m ok with it.”

Emotions and all, it was a solid day for Ohio in their first look of live-action for the season. Both sides of the ball showed flashes and, most importantly, there were no major injuries that came out of the scrimmage.

“I’m not usually jumping up and down after the first scrimmage, in fact normally you’re wondering how it’s ever going to work,” Solich said with a laugh. “I’m encouraged.”

The starting offense, in just 20 plays, was impressive, scoring twice and racking up 202 total yards. Senior quarterback Nathan Rourke was stellar in his time on the field, completing 10 of his 11 pass attempts for 171 yards and a touchdown. The scoring play was a beautiful 59-yard bomb to a streaking Cam Odom.

The running back battle continued throughout the scrimmage as well. All three of the backs competing for the starting position received their fair share of carries during the course of the scrimmage. 

De’Montre Tuggle and Ja’Vahri Portis got the bulk of the touches in the backfield, combining for 22 carries. Tuggle picked up 60 yards on the ground in 12 carries and Portis added 34 yards on 10 carries. Portis also added 19 receiving yards on three catches out of the backfield.

As he has all training camp, redshirt freshman O’Shaan Allison continued to see playing time with the starters. He finished with 29 yards on 9 carries but scored the first touchdown of the scrimmage on an 18-yard run where he started to the right and cut back to open field to his left and found the endzone easily.

“I saw the d-line slanted to the right, and the linebackers all overloaded to the right. I knew immediately the backside was going to be open,” Allison said of his touchdown run. “I pressed my landmark as much as I could and cut back. It was wide open.”

Some other notable stats on the offensive end came from Kurtis Rourke who showed flashes in 29 snaps on the field. The freshman went 9-of-15 passing for 95 yards and an interception. His competition for the role of the backup quarterback, Joe Mischler, finished the scrimmage completing seven of 10 passes for 54 yards, a touchdown, and two picks. 

The defense also got to show off a bit during the scrimmage as well. They were able to get to the quarterback and touch him for a sack three times and also pulled down three interceptions.

The first of those, an out route that was undercut by redshirt freshman Jamison Collier, was returned 35 yards for a touchdown. 

The other two interceptions came late in practice with redshirt freshman John Gregory intercepting Kurtis Rourke in the endzone and freshman Jett Elad picking off Joe Mischler at midfield.

The Bobcats will have Sunday off before returning to practice on Monday morning at 9 a.m. Their next scrimmage is set for August 17 at 9 a.m. and will be open to the public.