[Maria Monesi | WOUB]

30-14 second half propels Ohio to win fifth straight

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OXFORD, Ohio (WOUB) – After the biggest win of Tim Albin’s young head coaching career against Buffalo, he was keen make sure his team stayed focused.

“Our motto all year has been one win at a time,” Albin said. “Coming in off such a huge win at Buffalo and avoiding the letdown, this game came at a perfect time.”

It was a night of perfect timing for the Bobcats in the Battle of the Bricks, as Ohio (7-3, 5-1 MAC) had its way for most of its 37-21 victory over Miami (OH) (4-6,2-4 MAC)

The Rourke Show Hits Oxford

Kurtis Rourke continues to grab national attention with another stellar performance under the Tuesday Night Lights.

He tossed 25 completions on 35 attempts for 362 yards, 3 TD’s, and no interceptions in a near-flawless for “The Maple Missile”.

He spread the wealth to a number of Bobcat receivers, even on a night where recent star wide receiver Sam Wiglusz was fairly quiet.

Three Ohio receivers went over 75 yards. It was a career night for Miles Cross, who had six catches for 133 yards, including several acrobatic and dynamic catches. Jacoby Jones had two touchdowns, including a catch of the year candidate early in the fourth quarter when he somehow reeled in a 10 yard fade by the skin on his fingertips. James Bostic also chipped in, with five catches for 83 yards.

Rourke said that the confidence he has in his receivers allows the passing offense to perform better.

Quarterback Kurtis Rourke throws the ball during their game against Miami
Quarterback Kurtis Rourke throws the ball during their game against Miami University at Yager Stadium in Oxford, Ohio. [Alex Eicher | WOUB]
“It puts a lot of confidence, it helps me build my confidence in trusting these guys,” Rourke said.

He also lauded Jacoby Jones, who himself had a breakout game.

“We know he’s been special for a long time,” Rourke said. “He might have taken a backseat in a couple of other games, but everyone on this team knows what he’s capable of.”

Bobcats’ Defense Dominates

It seems like it was five seasons ago when the Fordham Rams strolled into Peden Stadium, put up 52 points, and almost escaped Athens with a win.

In reality, that was just six weeks ago, and it feels like that game served as a wake-up call to the unit.

After giving up 44.5 points per game over their first four games, the Ohio defense has averaged 23.5 points per game allowed in their last six.

And it’s no coincidence they’re 5-1 over that stretch – the defense has stepped up and is making key plays when it matters.

Tonight was no different. While there were areas that Ohio would like to improve, like giving up eight catches for 107 yards and three touchdowns to Mac Hippenhammer, the Bobcats’ defensive unit made key plays when it mattered.

Miami was limited on the ground, as Ohio held them to just 69 yards rushing, for just an average of 3.3 yards per rush. The Bobcats also held Miami to go one for seven on third down conversions and stopped both of Miami’s fourth down conversion attempts.

Ohio senior linebacker Keye Thompson has been a vocal leader for the Bobcats defense, and he believes that the brotherhood within the defense makes the team better.

“We just have a chemistry,” Thompson said. “Everyone likes to attack the ball; we’ve got 11 guys that swing to the ball and want to be the first guy to get there.”

The defense is rounding into form at the right time, and as many of the tougher challenges lie ahead, it appears the unit is relishing its time in the limelight.

Beatdown on the Bricks

It was all-around domination from the Bobcats, as they continued the recent one-sidedness of the Battle of the Bricks rivalry.

The win marked Ohio’s 13th in the last 16 meetings between the Bobcats and the Redhawks, while Miami can still hang onto the fact that they possess the all-time series lead.

Kurtis Rourke pats Sieh Bangura on his helmet after Bangura caught a pass for a Bobcats first down during their game at Yager Stadium in Oxford, Ohio.
Kurtis Rourke (7) pats Sieh Bangura (22) on his helmet after Bangura caught a pass for a Bobcats first down during their game at Yager Stadium in Oxford, Ohio.[Alex Eicher | WOUB]
Sieh Bangura also had a career night. On 20 carries, he had 145 yards and punched a 1 yard score in for Ohio’s first and only rushing touchdown of the night.

Miami’s defense felt the loss of potential All-American Ivan Pace Jr., who transferred to Cincinnati and is having a breakout season.

The win allows Ohio to hold the top spot in the MAC East as they await the results of Buffalo and Bowling Green that play Nov. 9. Coach Albin stressed the importance of taking things one game at a time.

“We all know what we want at the end,” Albin said. “But we’re going to continue this journey…it’s about the journey. It about the team, and it’s about the destination.”

The journey continues for this team. The Bobcats travel to Muncie, Indiana for a tilt with Ball State Nov. 15 before hosting Bowling Green on Nov. 22 to close out the regular season.

The destination for the Bobcats if they win out? Ford Field for a shot at their first MAC football title since 1968.