It was just another step in a journey that ultimately can bring them to Detroit for the Mid-American Conference championship game, but you can’t understate how important it was for Ohio to take care of a hated rival on the road.
The Bobcats (7-3, 5-1) were able to finish a near wire-to-wire win over Miami (OH) (4-6, 2-4) in the Battle of the Bricks with a controlling 37-21 win over the RedHawks on Tuesday night. Miami still leads the all-time series 54-42-2, but the Bobcats have been able to walk away with a victory in 13 of the last 16 attempts.
Uncharacteristically, Ohio wasn’t able to score on their first possession of the game. It wouldn’t take too long though as once they got the ball the second time after a couple of standout defensive series, they made a statement quickly.
A three play, 54-yard touchdown drive, highlighted by a 49-yard connection between Kurtis Rourke and Miles Cross on a deep post down the middle that ended up at the one, gave the Bobcats the initial lead.
On the next play, Sieh Bangura took a handoff up the middle and punched it into the end zone. The redshirt freshman finished 145 yards rushing on 20 carries in the win. It was the eighth rushing touchdown of the year for Bangura, even though he’s been limited with injuries throughout the year.
The opening lead didn’t last long though. Just a few drives later the RedHawks were able to drive down the field and Brett Gabbert was able to find Mac Hippenhammer for the five-yard score to tie the game up at seven.
After going into the break with a three-point lead, Ohio came out of the half and took full control of the contest.
They took the ball first out of halftime and constructed a 13 play, 76-yard drive that demoralized the Miami defense. They were able to cap it off when Rourke found Bangura out in the flat and the Maryland native zoomed around the outside, cut a corner and ran into the end zone for his second score of the night.
The RedHawks answered back with a three-play touchdown drive that saw Gabbertt hit Hippenhammer again, this time for a 37-yard score.
That’s about as close as it got though, Rourke and the rest of the passing attack took over at that point.
On the very next drive Ohio was able to score quickly after Jacoby Jones took a quick hook route, turned up the field, and outran every defender for the 48-yard touchdown.
Jones had his breakout performance in his first year as a Bobcat on Tuesday. The transfer receiver caught four balls for 78 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win.
He was only the third leading receiver on the night though for the Bobcats. Miles Cross led the team with 133 yards while James Bostic pitched in 83 yards in an impressive performance for the wide receiver group as a whole.
All these numbers lead back to another fantastic performance from Rourke. The star gunslinger finished the night 25-35 passing for 362 yards and three touchdowns. These performances are becoming run of the mill for Rourke as he continues a spectacular 2022 season.
Just one drive later after the first score from Jones, Rourke was able to find him once again in the end zone. The Mississippi native made a fantastic play in the corner to rip off his defender and extend fully while diving to secure the ball and increase the Bobcat lead.
Miami was able to score again, but a couple late field goals from Nathaniel Vakos put this one to bed as Ohio secured another crucial MAC win.
Sitting with two more games ahead of them in the regular season, Ohio goes on the road next week to go up against a 5-5 Ball State team. If the Bobcats can continue to play like they did last night for the rest of the year, it might be time to start looking at tickets to the MAC championship game.