Frank Solich [File Photo]

Ohio Football: ‘Cats Run Wild on BGSU as Frank Solich Becomes MAC’s Winningest Coach

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BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — As Ohio’s third-string quarterback Joe Mischler took a knee with under 40 seconds to play in the game, Ohio head coach Frank Solich was surrounded by coaches, players and media.

They were all waiting for the inevitable. 

Before he was able to walk far enough away, he was struck with the blue, icy chill of a Gatorade bath. 

The Bobcats went wild. Their coach had just become the winningest coach in the history of the Mid-American conference on one of the more memorable nights in recent memory for the Bobcat program and their fans.

The ‘Cats (5-6, 4-3 MAC) used a blistering third quarter to blow away Bowling Green (3-8, 2-5 MAC) on Tuesday night, defeating the Falcons 66-24 to keep their bowl hopes alive.

“This record, I feel really good about it, but a lot of people were involved with this – a lot of good players,” Solich said. “Tremendous athletes, tremendous coaches, if you have that combination you’re going to be able to win a few football games.”

Solich has been able to win more than a few in his time in Athens. Tuesday’s win gives him 111 in Green and White, surpassing Central Michigan coaching legend, and College Football Hall of Famer, Herb Deromedi.

“I’m really happy to be able to be a part of things that Coach Solich has accomplished,” Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke said.

Nathan Rourke certainly had a lot to do with the Bobcats’ wins the past three seasons. Games that Rourke has started have accounted for Solich’s last 22 wins.

The Bobcat offense came out firing on all cylinders Tuesday and didn’t let up until the starters were pulled out of the game late in the third quarter.

Ohio scored on 12 of their first 14 possessions, only punting once and losing the ball once on a fumble.

Perhaps even more amazingly, the Bobcats gained 146 yards and scored 24 points on just nine plays in the first quarter. They held the ball for just 4:09 in the opening quarter.

“Going into this game, we knew that they had given up some big plays and that we were capable of having big plays,” Rourke said. “Whenever you put up 66 points on a division one team, that’s something to be proud of.”

66 points is certainly something that the ‘Cats can hang their hat on. It is an impressive number. Even more impressive? They did it in just 61 offensive plays. The Bobcats averaged 1.08 points PER PLAY on Tuesday night.

“It’s definitely fun. It was really cool to get a lot of people in the end zone,” Rourke said. “When we make plays on defense like we did and have so many guys step up and make plays (on offense) that have been working hard, it’s fun to be a part of.”

Seven different Bobcats found the end zone on Tuesday night: Rourke, O’Shaan Allison, De’Montre Tuggle, Ja’Vahri Portis, Isaiah Cox, Jerome Buckner and Julian Ross all got to celebrate on the orange turf.

Nathan Rourke led the way in that category, being responsible for four touchdowns, three passing and one running. He finished the game with 267 passing yards and 25 rushing yards.

But for much of the game, it was the O’Shaan Allison show. The redshirt freshman had a career night, rushing for 175 yards and three scores. Both of those are new career-highs. He did that all on just 12 carries, averaging 14.6 yards every time he got the ball.

“It meant everything to me (to have a big night). I haven’t had one of these nights in a while, so it felt really good,” Allison said. “I just felt confident out there. The (offensive) line played lights out today.”

All told, the Bobcats ran for a season-high 342 yards Tuesday night and averaged 8.6 yards per carry.

“There’s definitely some security there when you know that your offensive line and running backs are getting their job done,” Rourke said. “It definitely makes my job a lot easier.”

Despite the final score, however, this game was close for the first 30 minutes. The only thing that gave the Bobcats an early edge was recovering a pair of Falcon fumbles on consecutive drives late in the first quarter. Those fumbles led to 10 Bobcat points and a lead the road team would never relinquish. But even so, Ohio only led 38-24 at halftime.

The Bobcat avalanche came late in the third quarter and buried Bowling Green before they knew what hit them.

After forcing a Falcon three and out, the Bobcats started with the ball on their own one-yard line. 8 plays and 4:27 later, Ohio was in the end zone again on Julian Ross’ first career touchdown reception and his first trip to the end zone since September of 2017 to give the Bobcats a 52-24 lead with 4:33 to play in the third quarter.

Three plays later, the offense was back on the field and two plays after that, Tuggle tiptoed down the far sideline for a 53-yard touchdown. 59-24 Bobcats.

Three plays after that, a third Bobcat running back, Portis, was celebrating in the end zone. 66-24 Bobcats.

Ohio took what was still a game that a comeback was possible and choked the life out of it in 2:30 and eight plays.

“Offensively, we were getting explosive plays. We’ve been on long drives, but haven’t gotten those kinds of plays. It was good to see all that tonight,” Solich said.

“We definitely feel like this is the way we’re capable of performing,” Rourke said. “We’re hoping to get more performances – plural – like this going forward.”

In total, the Bobcats racked up 609 yards of offense in the game, good for the sixth-best performance in that category in the program’s history.

A lot of history was made on the turf of Doyt L. Perry Stadium on Tuesday night, but it doesn’t erase what has overall been a disappointing season for the Bobcats.

“It’s been a hard season. These guys have played and practiced so hard,” Solich said. “I’m proud of how they handled themselves as some of their goals started to evaporate.”

They still have one goal alive. 

The ‘Cats face a must-win next Tuesday to keep their streak of nine years in a row of bowl eligibility alive. All that stands between them and a shot at a bowl game is an 0-10 Akron team.

Kickoff at Infocision Stadium is set for 6 p.m. on November 26.