[Ayden Crowley | WOUB]

Ohio Football shocks Iowa State in a defensive masterclass for the 10-7 victory

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — “It’s probably the best feeling in the world,” defensive tackle Rodney Matthews said.

Matthews had never had an interception in his professional career – until Saturday. A deflection caused by Roman Parodie, the ball bounced into his arms with 2:10 remaining.

That pick sealed the deal on a day and a game the Athens community will be talking about for a long time. After a 43-10 loss in Ames last year, Ohio Football got its revenge against Iowa State, 10-7.

“Yeah, I think it shows the growth,” quarterback Kurtis Rourke said. “Last year when we went there, and we felt like we beat ourselves… so we had this this game circled for sure for a while and knew they were coming to our house and so it just gives us confidence that we can play and beat anybody.”

Ohio is playing with confidence that hasn’t been seen in a long time at the freshly christened Frank Solich Field. The Bobcats continue to defend that field as they haven’t lost yet, going 8-0 since the name change last season.

Bryce Houston gets up after a tackle against Iowa State
Bryce Houston (32) gets up after a tackle against Iowa State [Shamar Semple | WOUB]
The identity of this team lies within its defense, which pitched a shutout for 55 minutes against a Cyclones team that hung 43 on them last season.

It’s clear who the leaders of this defense are, and Ohio head coach Tim Ablin can lean on two men in particular to lead his defense.

“Bryce and Keye, Keye and Bryce,” said Albin – referring to the linebackers and heart and soul of the Ohio defense. “Guys respond to those two. It goes through them.”

Albin waxed poetic about his linebacking duo for good reason. Bryce Houston was everywhere, and that might be selling him short. 15 total tackles, 5 solo, and half of a tackle for loss. The total tackles were triple any other Bobcat defender. Keye Thompson was second in tackles with five of his own and had a pass breakup.

You could likely write a feature on almost every defensive player today. The Bobcats picked off Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht twice – and both came in key moments. Torrie Cox Jr.’s interception set up Ohio’s only touchdown of the day on the opening drive of the third quarter, and Matthews’ interception sealed the victory for the Bobcats.

That touchdown proved to be the difference for Ohio, and it came on third and goal. Two Cyclone defenders’ bit on a shallow dig route from tight end Tyler Foster, and that left Sam Wiglusz wide open in the back of the end zone.

Sam Wiglusz celebrates his touchdown with teammates
Sam Wiglusz celebrates his touchdown with teammates [Shamar Semple | WOUB]
“We’ve ran that play quite a bit since last year, and we’ve never quite gotten the right look,” said WIglusz, who had 5 catches for 53 yards in the victory. “It felt like it took forever for the ball to get there.”

The Bobcats are going to savor this one for a while, and the Cyclones will retreat to Ames with their tails firmly between their legs.

Ohio Football will travel to Bowling Green on Saturday to begin Mid-American Conference play.