BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Outstanding offense on a milestone night.
The Ohio University football team claimed a 66-24 victory over Mid-American Conference host Bowling Green on Tuesday night at Doyt L. Perry Stadium, giving Bobcats head coach Frank Solich 111 wins with the Green and White, the most victories by a MAC coach in league history.
The Falcons (3-8, 2-5 MAC) scored on the game’s opening possession, going 84 yards in 14 plays, with Grant Loy tossing a 26-yard touchdown pass to Quintin Morris, and Nate Needham making his first of three point-after kicks with 9:22 left in the first quarter.
Ohio (5-6, 4-3) needed just two plays and 44 seconds to tie the game, with Nathan Rourke finding Isiah Cox for a 55-yard scoring pass. Louie Zervos — who took the crown as Ohio’s all-time scoring king in the contest, becoming the first Bobcat to 410 career points — made his first of nine extra-point kicks to tie the game at seven with 8:38 left in the opening stanza.
Bowling Green answered with a six-play, 80-yard drive, capped off by a six-yard touchdown run by Davon Johnson that made the margin 14-7 at the 6:23 mark of the first.
The score was tied at 14 exactly one minute later, with OU redshirt-freshman O’Shaan Allison breaking a 54-yard touchdown on the second play of the Bobcat possession.
The Ohio defense came up with its first of five takeaways on the Falcons’ next offensive play, with Javon Hagan forcing a fumble, which Marcus Coleman recovered at the BGSU 18.
The Bobcats then took the lead at 17-14 on a 33-yard field goal by Zervos with 3:10 left in the period.
Ohio’s defense got the ball back three plays into the Falcons’ next drive, with Marlin Brooks forcing and recovering a fumble at the BGSU 45.
The Green and White were in the end zone on the very next play, with Rourke tossing 45-yard touchdown pass to Jerome Buckner, extending the Ohio lead 24-14 with 2:01 left in the first.
After a three-and-out by each side, the Falcons were back to within three points with 12:33 left in the half, as Bryson Denley scored on a 21-yard run.
Ohio, however, was up 31-21 after a 13-play, 73-yard drive, punctuated by a seven-yard scoring run by Allison at the 7:07 mark of the second period.
The Falcons made it as far as the Ohio 39 on their next drive, but were backed up to their side of the field and forced to punt.
The Bobcat offense moved 67 yards in five plays, with Rourke finding the end zone on an eight-yard run to give the guests a 38-21 lead with 1:16 left in the half.
Bowling Green was left with enough time to get three points back before the break, and went into halftime trailing 38-24 after a 38-yard field goal by Mason Lawler.
Ohio went up 21 points 51 seconds into the second half, as Allison scored on a 53-yard run on the third play from scrimmage. The Bobcat defense forced three-and-outs on its first three tries in the second half.
The Ohio offense gave the ball back to BGSU with a fumble on its second drive of the second half, but OU went up 52-24 on its third possession. On the eighth-play of a 99-yard drive, Rourke tossed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Julian Ross with 4:33 to go in the third.
OU started its next drive on its own 47, and went up 59-24 on a 53-yard touchdown run by De’Montre Tuggle with 2:45 left in the quarter.
The Falcons’ next play from scrimmage resulted in a sack and forced fumble by Sam McKnight, with Kai Caesar recovered for the Bobcats at the BGSU 18.
Back-to-back carries by Ja’Vahri Portis put the cherry on top of the Bobcats’ 66-24 victory, with the redshirt-junior scoring from 11 yards out with 2:03 to go in the third.
A pair of Bobcat takeaways highlighted the final quarter, with John Gregory intercepting a pass, and Jack McCrory recovering a special teams fumble.
The Bobcats claimed a 609-to-418 advantage in total offense in the win, outgaining the Falcons 432-to-168 on the ground. Bowling Green earned a 25-to-23 edge in first downs and committed eight penalties for 55 yards, while OU was sent back 11 times for a total of 93 yards.
Nathan Rourke — who was 14-of-21 passing for 267 yards and three touchdowns — added 25 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
Allison led all-rushers with 175 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries, while Tuggle’s only try went for 53 yards and six points. Portis had 36 yards and a score on five totes, while Kurtis Rourke carried the ball three times for 20 yards.
Ross — who caught one pass for a 22-yard touchdown — had 17 yards on four carries, Jake Neatherton added 12 yards on three totes, while Joe Mischler ran once for four yards.
Cox led the Bobcat receiving unit with 83 yards and a score on four grabs. Shane Hooks and Ryan Luehrman caught three passes apiece, gaining 79 and 24 yards respectively. Buckner — who ran once for a gain of three yards — had 54 yards and a touchdown on a pair of receptions, while Ty Walton caught one five-yard pass.
Jared Dorsa and Keye Thompson led the Green and White defense with eight tackles apiece, including one tackle for a loss each. McKnight and Austin Conrad each claimed a sack in the win.
For the hosts, Loy completed 21-of-32 passes for 250 yards and one score. Morris caught a game-best six passes for 86 yards and a touchdown, while Jones picked up a team-high 95 yards with one score on 16 carries.
Kholbe Coleman led the BGSU defense with 11 tackles, followed by Jerry Roberts with eight tackles, a forced fumble and the team’s only tackle for a loss.
The Bobcats will have a chance to get to .500 when they wrap up the regular season at Akron on Tuesday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.