[Bryan Kurp | WOUB]

Ohio Football Drops Season Opener To Syracuse

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — A game under the lights at a packed Peden Stadium.  There was no better setting for Ohio’s season opener against power five opponent Syracuse.

Members of Ohio football's student section cheers on the Bobcats in their game against Syracuse on September 4, 2021.
Ohio had an announced attendance of 23,904 at its home opener against Syracuse at Peden Stadium [Nick Viland | WOUB]
“Awesome crowd. Wow,” Ohio first-year head coach Tim Albin said.  “(It was) great to see the hill packed and the student section.  It was awesome.”

Tim Albin opened his Ohio head coaching tenure Saturday in a similar situation as his predecessor Frank Solich — a stadium packed with students and fans, a power five opponent coming to Athens and a game under the lights.

However, one thing was different between the two debuts: the final result.

Ohio (0-1) was within a score heading into the half but Syracuse (1-0) dominated the rushing game in the second half en route to a 29-9 victory.

Syracuse quarterback Tommy Devito and running back Sean Tucker look over to the sideline for a playcall in the Ohio vs. Syracuse game on September 4, 2021.
Syracuse quarterback Tommy Devito (13) and running back Sean Tucker (34) stand in the backfield in their game against Ohio [Nick Viland | WOUB]
The Orange rushing attack was led by freshman Sean Tucker, who finished with 181 yards.

“I looked (Tucker’s stats) up after the game and he’s a really, really good running back,” Albin said of Tucker.  “I would’ve liked to have seen us make a few more tackles but he is something.  He did a real nice job.”

Syracuse as a team finished with 283 yards rushing, which accounted for nearly three-quarters of the team’s offensive yardage.

“When the run game’s going, you don’t have to do too much,” Ohio fifth-year safety Jarren Hampton said.  “I think that was what (Syracuse) was just relying on.  (Tucker’s) a good back and he made some plays happen.”

Ohio had 346 yards on offense but did not score any touchdowns despite reaching the red zone four times.  The Bobcats’ nine points came off three field goals by Stephen Johnson, a senior transfer from Oklahoma.

“I thought we moved the ball pretty well throughout the whole game,” Ohio starting quarterback Kurtis Rourke said.  “I think that we just need to finish some of these drives.  We have a lot of great athletes.”

The Bobcats had an opportunity to take the momentum early on.  The Bobcats put together a solid opening drive but Johnson missed on a 50-yard field goal attempt.

Syracuse scored the first points of the game on the ensuing drive thanks to a six-yard run by quarterback Tommy Devito.

After Ohio muffed the following kickoff, which put the ball at the one-yard line, De’Montre Tuggle was taken down in the end-zone for a safety.

Ohio brought the score to 12-6 at the half but the Syracuse offense heated up in the second half.

Syracuse runningback Sean Tucker celebrates a touchdown in the third quarter of Syracuse's game against Ohio on September 4, 2021.
Syracuse running back Sean Tucker celebrates a touchdown in the third quarter [Nick Viland | WOUB]
Tucker ran for 103 yards, including a touchdown in the third quarter, to spark the offensive output.

The Orange gained 244 yards of total offense in the second half, including 189 rushing yards.

With the first game of the season out of the way, Ohio will look to regroup and prepare for its next matchup.

“We played that first one but now we are going to have our most improvements from our first game to our second game,” Albin said.  “There’s nothing out there that can’t be corrected.”

Ohio will go for its first win of the season next Saturday against FCS opponent Duquesne.  Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.