[Maria Monesi | WOUB]

Bobcats falter at home for first time since 2021, fall to RedHawks 30-16

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – The Ohio Bobcats (6-3, 3-2 MAC) welcomed the Miami RedHawks (7-2, 4-1 MAC) to Peden Stadium with first place in the MAC East on the line. The stakes don’t get much higher for a Battle of The Bricks showdown.  

The Bobcats came into the day dominating the series as of late, winning 13 of the last 16. However, as the clock hit triple zeroes it was the RedHawks getting the last laugh. 

Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke (7) throws a pass to Miles Cross (19) in Ohio's game against Miami.
Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke (7) throws a pass to Miles Cross (19) in Ohio’s game against Miami. [Conor Mallonn | WOUB]
It was gloomy day with on and off showers, but that didn’t stop Ohio from marching down the field on their very first drive and scoring a touchdown. Quarterback Kurtis Rourke looked like the 2022 version of himself, manning an offense that was one of the most prolific in the country.

First, it was a 36-yard beauty to Will Kacmarek along the Ohio sideline. The very next play he found his man Sam Wiglusz on the corner route for 23 more. Sieh Bangura capped off the drive with a one-yard score, giving the Bobcats the 6-0 lead.  

The defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, giving the ball right back to the offense and letting them go to work, and work they did. Rourke was dealing, getting the offense all the way down to the Miami 16. They settled for the field goal, but it pushed the lead to two scores. 

After that, the offense lost its touch. They mustered just 106 total yards of offense over the course of the next two quarters and didn’t run a single play in RedHawk territory.  

Just as the Bobcat offense stalled, the Miami offense found its footing. They outscored Ohio 23-0 across the second and third quarters. Most of it had to do with field position. Twice, their offense started a drive inside the Ohio 20-yard line. On top of that, they added 100 yards in punt returns, averaging 20 yards a return. 

Miami quarterback Aveon Smith (2) throws the ball on the run in Ohio's game against Miami.
Miami quarterback Aveon Smith (2) throws the ball on the run in Ohio’s game against Miami. [Conor Mallonn | WOUB]
Head Coach Tim Albin knew special teams would be a problem coming into the week, but admitted losing the field position battle was a difference.  

“They had a big advantage in special teams…I knew they had an advantage,” Albin said. “I thought we were going to be able to get through it, but in the field position we didn’t win tonight.” 

The offense picked it up in the fourth when Miami gave them softer zone looks and almost sparked a comeback. However, an offsides penalty on a fourth and one killed any chance the Bobcats had at the storybook ending.  

Penalties were a big issue for Ohio all night long. They had 11 of them for 78 yards, and they came at crucial moments.  

That’s one area that Rourke knows has to be better. 

“I think we hurt ourselves with penalties on first and second down,” Rourke said. “I think [Miami] did a good job, but at the same time, I think we hurt ourselves more.” 

The Bobcats came in an undefeated 10-0 on Frank Solich Field, but now suffer their first loss at home since 2021. The Bobcats fall to 6-3 overall and 3-2 in conference play. Miami is now 7-2 on the season with a 4-1 conference record.  

Ohio isn’t out of it yet, however, but it would take a minor miracle.  

Along with Ohio winning out against Buffalo, Central Michigan, and Akron, they would need Miami to lose two of their last three games. Coincidentally, the RedHawks also finish with Buffalo and Akron, as well as Ball State. Those three teams are a combined 6-18 this season.