MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — The second half started with a bang, but it was all Chippewas the rest of the way.
The Ohio University football team took its first lead of Wednesday’s season opener with a 93-yard kickoff return on the opening play of the second half, but the Bobcats came up empty on their final six drives and ultimately fell to Mid-American Conference host Central Michigan by a 30-27 tally.
The Chippewas (1-0, 1-0 MAC) —winner of five straight against the Bobcats (0-1, 0-1) — went up 7-0 on the game’s opening drive, as quarterback Daniel Richardson scored on a one-yard run and Marshall Meeder made his first of three point-after kicks at the 7:58 mark of the first quarter.
The Bobcats answered on the following possession, with Kurtis Rourke finding Shane Hooks for a 21-yard touchdown pass at the end of a six-play, 63-yard drive. Tristian Vanderberg made his first of three point-after kicks, tying the game at seven.
The hosts needed just four plays and 1:11 to reestablish the lead, as Richardson connected with Kalil Pimpleton for a 50-yard touchdown pass.
After a punt by each side, the Green and White were back in the end zone with a 58-yard scoring pass from Rourke to Isiah Cox 1:04 into the second quarter, cutting the CMU lead to 14-13.
The Chippewas were back up by seven after a two-yard touchdown run by Kobe Lewis with 5:05 left in the half, capping off a nine-play 37-yard drive.
Ohio tied the game at 20 headed into the half, with a three-yard De’Montre Tuggle touchdown run at the end of a 10-play, 75-yard drive.
Tuggle then took the opening kickoff of the second half 93 yards for the touchdown, giving Ohio a 27-20 advantage.
The Bobcats fumbled the ball away on their next drive, and Central Michigan tied it up at 27 two plays later, with an eight-yard touchdown run by Lewis.
The Bobcats’ remaining third quarter drives were ended by a punt, a fumble and a missed field goal.
Central Michigan regained the lead on the opening drive of the fourth quarter, as Meeder made a 22-yard field goal with 9:05 left in the game.
After a pair of three-and-outs, the Bobcats made it as far as the CMU 35 on their final drive, but the Chippewas forced a turnover on downs to cap off the 30-27 victory.
Central Michigan earned a 24-to-16 advantage in first downs in the game, with a 427-to-345 edge in total offense. Ohio committed both of the game’s turnovers, and lost the sack battle by a 5-0 tally. OU was penalized 11 times for 74 yards, while the hosts were backed up 64 yards on six flags.
Rourke completed 12-of-19 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns for Ohio, while Armani Rogers completed 1-of-3 passes for four yards and picked up 32 yards on seven carries.
Tuggle carried the ball 16 times for 79 yards and a score, while O’Shaan Allison ran for 16 yards on four totes, to go with one 13-yard reception.
Cox led the Ohio receivers with 102 yards and a touchdown on four grabs, while Hooks hauled in three passes for 34 yards and a score. Adam Luehrman and Ryan Luehrman caught two passes each, gaining 44 and 16 yards respectively, while Cameron Odom earned 28 total yards after a catch and a carry.
Leading the Ohio Defense, Jamison Collier had eight tackles, including seven solo. Jeremiah Wood also had seven solo tackles, and recorded a team-best two tackles for a lost.
For the Chippewas, Richardson completed 23-of-41 passes for 243 yards and a score, while rushing three times for six yards and another score. Lewis led the hosts on the ground with 112 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries, to go with five catches for 34 yards. Pimpleton claimed a team-best 65 yards with one touchdown on five receptions in the win.
Leading the CMU defense, George Douglas had nine tackles, eight solo, and a fumble recovery. Troy Hairston II had a game-best three sacks, to go with a forced fumble, while Amir Siddiq picked up a pair of sacks.
Next, Ohio will welcome Akron to Peden Stadium on Tuesday.
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Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.