[Ayden Crowley | WOUB]

Sieh Bangura tallies four touchdowns in 55-34 Bobcat win over Akron

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — No one could have asked for a better atmosphere.  

Whether they were from West Green or Court Street, everyone at Peden Stadium for Saturday’s matinee between the Ohio Bobcats (3-3) and Akron Zips (1-5) had one common mission—cheer for their Bobcats on homecoming weekend. 

Ohio head coach Tim Albin and his team felt that passion when they stepped on Frank Solich Field at Peden Stadium, where his Bobcats remain undefeated.  

“It’s a very special weekend,” Albin said. “Best fans in our conference, no question. And homecoming makes it more special … we’ve got an advantage playing here.”  

Albin’s team fed off that energy right from the kickoff. 

A perfect opening for the offense

It was a tale of two completely different starts for Ohio.  

Last week against Kent State, the Bobcats were forced to go a quick three-and-out in their first drive. The defense was unable to contain the Golden Flashes’ high-powered offense and conceded a touchdown just over a minute into the game.  

Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke connected with receiver Sam Wiglusz for a 75-yard touchdown on the very first play of the game. The successful extra point attempt gave the Bobcats an early 7-0 lead.  

All it took was 12 seconds.  

“It was a matter of if we got the right look, and we did,” Wiglusz said. “It couldn’t have played out much better and it really got us off to a hot start. It felt great.” 

McCormick and Bangura add to the scoreboard

Nolan McCormick (21) celebrates his touchdown by jumping in the air with James Bostic in Ohio's win over Akron
Ohio running back Nolan McCormick (21) celebrates his touchdown in Ohio’s win over Akron [Maria Monesi | WOUB]
Freshman running back Nolan McCormick picked up from where he left off after scoring his first career touchdown against Kent State.

With a little over three minutes to go in the first quarter, McCormick barreled his way into the end zone for an eight-yard rushing touchdown. It was his first rushing touchdown of the season and it extended Ohio’s lead to double digits, 14-0. 

A familiar face added his presence in the second quarter. Running back Sieh Bangura ended a seven-play drive for the Bobcats with a rushing touchdown, growing the lead to 21-3.  

 A crucial call for Coach Albin

The Bobcats had a 21-13 advantage when Rourke again found Wiglusz for a 26-yard connection. Wiglusz dove into the end zone, but the officials ruled that he did not successfully cross the pylon. It put Ohio on the one-yard line with two seconds to go. 

Albin had a major decision to make—go for it or take the field goal. He chose the former. 

And that decision paid off. Rourke handed the ball off to Bangura, who pummeled his way into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game.  

Albin’s pivotal decision gave his team a 28-13 lead heading into the break.  

“We were definitely looking for a spark,” Bangura said. “We put all together as a team on the field. So it was great to get that going right before the half,” 

 Offense and defense pour it on in third quarter 

Duos do not get more dynamic when Kurtis Rourke and Sam Wiglusz take the field.  

After less than five minutes of play in the third quarter, Zips running back Clyde Price III cut the Bobcats’ lead to eight with a four-yard run into the end zone. Akron’s confidence was growing. 

But it wasn’t enough to stop Rourke and Wiglusz on the ensuing drive.

Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke (7) smiles as he is on the phone with coaches
Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke (7) smiles as he is on the phone with coaches [Maria Monesi | WOUB]
Rourke threw a high archer towards Wiglusz, who was covered on the play. Despite the stringent Zips defense, Wiglusz was able to grasp the ball in his clutches as he made his way into the endzone. It was a vital six points for Ohio, pushing their cushion back to 35-20. 

That play was only the beginning of a masterful third quarter performance by Albin’s squad. 

Bangura added another blow to the Zips by securing a touchdown hat-trick. This time, he put his receiving skills on display, hauling in a 30-yard pass from Rourke.  

It increased the Bobcat lead to 41-20. 

Ohio extended that lead just 19 seconds later thanks to a fumble recovery by Jack McCrory, who scooped the deflected ball out of the air and galloped his way 13 yards into the end zone.  

All Albin could do was smile. 

“Our football team, (through) four quarters, (played) a great game (on) both sides of the ball,” Albin said. “Our most complete game of the year.” 

Bangura continues to impress 

Sieh Bangura captivated fans at Peden Stadium with his awe-inspiring showing on Saturday afternoon. With four touchdowns on homecoming weekend, no one could ask for a better day.  

But Bangura was only focused on the main task at hand—executing the game plan with his teammates. 

Ohio running back Sieh Bangura (22) runs out of the tunnel before Ohio's game
Ohio running back Sieh Bangura (22) runs out of the tunnel before Ohio’s game [Maria Monesi | WOUB]
“We just treat it like another game,” Bangura said. “We just go out there and do what we do to the best of our ability.”  

Albin discussed how fulfilling it was for him to see Bangura showcase his abilities once again. 

“I’m very happy for him,” Albin said. “He’s a tough young man and he’s got a bright future.” 

Bangura rushed for 90 yards on 16 carries in Saturday’s win.  

 What’s next? 

The Ohio Bobcats improve to an overall record of 3-3 and 1-1 in MAC play.  

They travel to Kalamazoo for a matchup against the Western Michigan Broncos (2-4) on Saturday, Oct. 15. Game time from Waldo Stadium is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.