The Bobcats have had a real conviction this season to show, early and often, that this offense is a far cry from the one that moseyed around the basement of the Mid-American Conference when it comes to scoring.
On the first play from scrimmage in the 55-34 win over Akron on Saturday, Kurtis Rourke connected with Sam Wiglusz for a 75-yard score to set the tone for the afternoon. The Ohio St. transfer seemed to beat a Cover 2 zone with a deep post and outran the Zips safeties for the opening score.
With the lead already in place, the Bobcats turned to the ground game to churn out yards and time. Their next possession after the initial score was a 12-play, 63-yard drive that took over seven minutes off the clock. It ended in relief as Nolan McCormick took a rush up the middle and barreled through the line for an eight-yard score.
The next drive had some elements of déjà vu, this time Sieh Bangura broke through the middle on an inside rush and high-stepped in from 12 yards out to give the Bobcats a 21-3 lead at the time.
One of the true mistakes from Ohio on the afternoon came with under a minute left in the first half. Playing stout defensively so far, a mixture of big plays and penalties set Akron up inside the 10-yard line. Akron’s DJ Irons was able to scramble around the pocket before taking off for the endzone, making it a one score game at the time.
The worries only lasted a moment, however. Rourke and the Ohio offense went 78 yards in only 41 seconds for the touchdown. Bangura powered into the endzone from the one-yard line for his second touchdown of the day while giving the Bobcats a 28-13 lead heading into the half.
“I told them walking out, I said ‘that drive is going to be the difference in the game,’” Tim Albin, the head coach of the Bobcats said about the end of the first half. “We got a defensive touchdown today, the second of the year. And if that didn’t happen that’s probably how it plays out. It was big, it really was.”
People were starting to search for the panic button early in the second half too. Akron took the opening possession of the half and went 65 yards for a touchdown, once again making it a one score game.
The Bobcats then turned a corner and never looked back again. Rourke came back to throw passing touchdowns on consecutive possessions. Overall, the redshirt junior QB had another elite day throwing. He finished 24-27 on the day for 427 yards and 3 touchdowns.
“He’s been lights out, really,” Wiglusz said after the win about his quarterback. “I mean 24-27, that’s outstanding. If he gives me something that he thinks would look good I believe he’ll get it there and he has so far. So he’s been doing outstanding he just has to keep rolling.”
The second of those mentioned were to Bangura, who was able to take a screen pass 25-yards for his third score of the day. We saw Bangura make an impact with a long touchdown run against Kent St. but he’s now showing, when fully healthy, he is a vital spark in this offense. The Maryland native had 90 yards on the day rushing to compliment four total touchdowns.
“I’m very happy for him, he had a lot of family here today,” Albin said about Bangura’s performance given the adversity he’s had to face. “He’s very happy. He’s still got a little bruise on that foot, but he’s a tough young man and has a bright, bright future ahead of him.”
On the following possession, Jack McCrory picked up a loose fumble from the Zips and scampered 13 yards for the Ohio touchdown, making it a 48-20 game late in the third quarter.
Akron scored again, but it was a typical case of too little, too late as the Bobcats held on to secure their first MAC win of the season.
Bangura’s final touchdown of the day late in the fourth put this one fully out of reach.
Sitting at 3-3 now, Ohio goes on the road next week to meet up with Western Michigan as they look to move up in MAC standings.