Nathan Rourke Bobcats Football
Nathan Rourke (12) looks to avoid an NIU defender during the Bobcats 39-36 loss to NIU on October 12, 2019. PHOTO: Ben Weigolpolski/WOUB

Ohio Football: 3 Takeaways from the Bobcats Loss to Northern Illinois

Posted on:

< < Back to

ATHENS, OH — After a big win in Buffalo, the Bobcats came home for Homecoming and played well.

For a half, anyway.

In the second half, the ‘Cats went back to some of the same tendencies that lost them three straight games. Here are a few of my takeaways from Ohio’s 39-36 loss to Northern Illinois.

Defense Stayed in the Locker Room

At what point do we just accept that the Bobcats defense just isn’t that good? I feel like, after their performance against NIU, the answer is now. 

There just aren’t excuses anymore for how badly they’ve performed for much of the season. Perhaps the most frustrating part is how inconsistent they have been. For short spurts all season, they’ve looked pretty good, but it’s only been in short spurts.

A few possessions one game, a half another. It’s hard to predict how the defense is going to perform on a series-to-series basis, let alone game-to-game.

The game against Northern Illinois was no different.

In the first half, the Bobcats played very well on the defensive side. The Huskies offense was held to just 138 total yards and 3 points. They had minus-2 rushing yards and the Bobcats defense looked like it had picked up where it left off against Buffalo.

That defense didn’t come back out for the second half.

Northern Illinois’ second-half drive summaries were as follows:

  • 5 plays, 29 yards PUNT
  • 3 plays, 92 yards TD
  • 13 plays, 76 yards TD
  • 6 plays, 63 yards TD
  • 9 plays, 75 yards TD
  • 9 plays, 56 yards FG

29 points, 372 yards for the Huskies in the final 30 minutes. They converted seven of their nine 3rd downs in the second half and outperformed their average yardage per game (363.4 ypg coming in) and average points per game (17.4 ppg coming in) in just five possessions.

The Huskies came out of the locker room with the adjustments they thought would beat the Bobcats defense.

The Bobcats failed to readjust and the loss falls on them.

Young Offense Looks Good

Unlike the defense, the Bobcats offense played their most complete game of the season this past Saturday.

Nathan Rourke scored all three ways on offense and finished the 19-of-31 for 258 yards through the air and added another 80 yards on 12 carries on the ground. A quintessential Nathan Rourke game.

They broke out some trick plays in the first half as well. Receiver D.L. Knock threw the touchdown that Rourke caught and a couple of possessions later, offensive lineman Austen Pleasants caught a cross-field lateral and scored a rushing touchdown.

O’Shaan Allison added 79 yards rushing and eight different receivers caught passes, being led by redshirt-freshman Shane Hooks (more on him later).

It was a fun day for the offense. They went up and down the field all day, racking up 438 yards of offense, averaging 6.5 yards per play while committing no turnovers and not allowing the Huskies to bring Rourke down for a sack once.

Rourke and the ‘Cats offense did not deserve to lose on Saturday based on their performance. 

Hooks Becoming the Go-To Guy

Coming into the season, the Bobcats wide receiver corps was considered a strength of the team by the coaching staff due to their talent and how much depth existed.

The only issue was to find out who would replace mainstays like Papi White and Andrew Meyer as Nathan Rourke’s security blanket on the outside. Last season, those two accounted for 98 of the ‘Cats 184 completions (53.2 percent) on the year.

This season has been far more even in the distribution, but Shane Hooks is beginning to separate from the pack. 

He is often the receiver that Rourke is able to find downfield for long gains and has also shown great hands in the first six games of the season, hauling in everything from one-handed sideline grabs to catches in traffic while getting crushed by defenders.

It’s not a mistake that he leads the team in receiving by over 100 yards over the next closest Bobcat. He also is tied for the team lead in touchdowns through six games. 

As long as Hooks is able to stay healthy, look for him to be a key to the Bobcats offense for years.