Aug 26, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; Ohio Bobcats quarterback Kurtis Rourke (7) hands off to running back Sieh Bangura (5) during the first half against the San Diego State Aztecs at Snapdragon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State prepares for ‘tough’ Ohio quarterback

Iowa State nearly overcame an early 17-0 deficit in last week’s eventual 20-13 home loss to in-state rival Iowa.

For Cyclones defensive coordinator Jon Heacock, holding the Hawkeyes to three points after halftime looms as a significant building block entering Saturday’s game against Ohio in Athens, Ohio.

“Overall, our fight to the end was important,” Heacock said. “We’re a young group. … You never know what young teams are really going to do. You just don’t, until they’re in the fire.”

Iowa State (1-1) hopes to kick-start its offense against the Bobcats (2-1). Rocco Becht, who remains the starting quarterback amid the gambling investigation involving projected starter Hunter Dekkers, completed slightly better than 50 percent of his passes for 203 yards against Iowa.

Becht threw a touchdown and also an interception that was returned for a score.

Ohio is coming off a 17-10 road victory at Florida Atlantic. Kurtis Rourke was 18-for-29 passing for 203 yards and a touchdown, while O’Shaan Allison rushed 22 times for 80 yards and a score.

“There were glimpses in that game at FAU that you saw (what) we’re capable on offense,” Bobcats coach Tim Albin said. “You’ve got to finish drives, but defense is really playing well, so it’s exciting, and we’re looking forward to the next challenge.”

The Cyclones can attest, as head coach Matt Campbell called Rourke “the toughest quarterback we’ve faced so far this season.”

Iowa State has won each of the previous six meetings between the schools, including last season’s 43-10 home romp that saw the Cyclones outgain the Bobcats 463-233. Ohio fumbled four times, losing two, while throwing two interceptions.

The only previous meeting in Athens — on Sept. 22, 2001 — also marked the closest margin of victory in the series. The Bobcats took an early 14-7 lead but were unable to hold on in a 31-28 defeat.

Ohio is hosting a Power 5 opponent for the first time since losing 29-9 to Syracuse in the 2021 season opener.

–Field Level Media

Dec 30, 2022; Tucson, AZ, USA; Wyoming Cowboys quarterback Andrew Peasley (6) runs the ball against Ohio Bobcats safety Tariq Drake (11) and cornerback Austin Brawley (21) in the first half of the 2022 Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio edges Wyoming in Arizona Bowl

CJ Harris’ 10-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Foster gave Ohio a 30-27 overtime win Friday over Wyoming in the Arizona Bowl at Tucson, Ariz.

Harris, who completed 20 of 33 attempts for 184 yards and two touchdowns, found Foster in the back of the end zone over defender Shae Suiaunoa. It was Foster’s first catch of the game.

Wyoming’s opening possession in overtime ended with John Hoyland’s 29-yard field goal after the Cowboys stalled following Andrew Peasley’s 13-yard pass to Ryan Marquez.

Sieh Bangura rushed for 138 yards on 25 carries with a touchdown for Ohio (10-4).

The Bobcats reached 10 wins in a season for the first time since finishing 10-4 in 2011.

Jordon Vaughn, who did not play in a game during the regular season, rushed for two touchdowns including a 5-yard touchdown run with 2:08 left in regulation that put Wyoming (7-6) ahead 24-21.

Vaughn, the starter at running back after the Cowboys’ top four rushers were not in uniform, also scored on a 17-yard run in the first possession of the game.

Wyoming’s leading rusher Titus Swen (1,039 yards rushing) was dismissed from the team for violating an undisclosed team policy. Backups Dawaiian McNeely (356 yards) and DQ James (346) are injured and Joseph Braasch (91) entered the transfer portal.

Vaughn, a redshirt freshman, finished with 67 yards on 16 carries.

His 5-yard touchdown run with 2:08 left capped a six-play, 75-yard drive after Wyoming had only 17 yards of total offense previously in the second half.

Ohio’s Nathanial Vakos made his third field goal of the game, a 45-yarder, with four seconds left in regulation to force overtime.

–Field Level Media

Iowa State Cyclones linebacker O'Rien Vance (34) and  defensive back Anthony Johnson Jr. (1) takes down Ohio Bobcats running back Sieh Bangura (22) during the first quarter at Jack Trice Stadium Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Ames, Iowa.

Hunter Dekkers, Iowa State roll past Ohio

Hunter Dekkers threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as Iowa State earned its first 3-0 start in a decade with a 43-10 victory over visiting Ohio on Saturday in Ames, Iowa.

Dekkers went 28-for-36 passing for 268 yards and no interceptions, while Xavier Hutchinson had nine receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown and Sean Shaw added five catches for 54 yards and a score.

Jirehl Brock had 76 yards on seven carries and Deon Silas added 58 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries to power the ground game.

Kurtis Rourke went 20-for-33 passing for 194 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for the Bobcats (1-2). Nolan McCormick rushed for 43 yards on seven carries and had six receptions for 19 yards.

After Dekkers gave the Cyclones a 7-0 lead with a six-yard touchdown run less than five minutes into the game, he doubled the lead with a 12-yard touchdown pass to DeShawn Hanika with 1:46 left in the first quarter.

The Cyclones pushed the lead to 17-0 on Jace Gilbert’s 19-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter before putting the game away in the next two minutes.

Iowa State got the ball back on Ohio’s first play of its ensuing possession when Anthony Johnson intercepted Rourke on the Cyclones’ 49-yard line. Five plays later, Silas scored on a three-yard run for a 24-0 lead with 13:07 left in the first half.

Ohio cut the deficit to 24-3 on Nathanial Vakos’ 45-yard field goal with 3:35 left in the half. But Dekkers’ 15-yard scoring strike to Shaw gave the Cyclones a 30-3 lead at the half after Gilbert’s extra-point was blocked by Rayyan Buell.

Dekkers’ 13-yard touchdown pass to Hutchinson pushed the lead to 37-3 with 8:22 left in the third quarter before Rourke found Tyler Foster for a 1-yard touchdown pass to make it 37-10 with 3:44 remaining in the third quarter.

Gilbert’s field goals from 21 and 39 yards in the fourth quarter capped the scoring.
The Cyclones are off to their best start since opening the 2012 season 3-0 en route to finishing 6-7.

–Field Level Media

Iowa State quarterback Hunter Dekkers, left, celebrates with wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson during a NCAA football game against Iowa, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

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Iowa State meets Ohio chasing ‘full potential’

Iowa State will look for its first 3-0 start in a dozen years when it hosts Ohio on Saturday at Ames, Iowa.

The Cyclones are coming off an intense 10-7 victory over host Iowa. The prized Cy-Hawk trophy now will reside on Iowa State’s campus for the first time since 2014, ending a string of six straight losses to the Hawkeyes.

After Hunter Dekkers capped a 21-play, 99-yard drive that took nearly 12 minutes with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Hutchinson to give the Cyclones a 10-7 lead, the Hawkeyes still had a chance to pull out the win.

However, Aaron Blom’s 48-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left as time expired.

“We want to be our best every Saturday,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said. “If (the Iowa victory) can shape us, we can put ourselves in a position to reach our full potential. And I still feel like that’s unclear to me what that is and what it’s going to look like.”

Ohio (1-1) is coming off a 46-10 loss at Penn State on Saturday and is the Cyclones final tune up before entering Big 12 play with three ranked teams among their first five conference games: No. 17 Baylor, No. 21 Texas, No. 6 Oklahoma.

Dekers has completed 72.5 percent of his passes for 477 yards with three interceptions through two games, with Hutchinson (19 catches, 226 yards, four touchdowns) emerging as his favorite target. Jirehl Brock has rushed for 204 yards and a touchdown on 43 carries.

Ohio fell behind Penn State 19-0 in the first 20 minutes and never recovered.

The Bobcats were held to 263 yards of offense, including just 164 through the air, after amassing 476 yards of offense in a 41-38 win over Florida Atlantic to open the season.

Kurtis Rourke has completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 464 yards with four TDs and no interceptions, in addition to rushing for 40 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

Sieh Bangura has rushed for a team-high 139 yards and a score on 30 carries, while James Bostic, Ty Walton and Sam Wiglusz are tied for the team lead with nine receptions.

Bostic has a team-high 167 receiving yards, with Wiglusz grabbing two TD receptions and Walton averaging 9.6 yards per catch.

Ohio coach Tim Albin said playing Penn State prepared his team for the Cyclones.

“You watch them on defense and they’re flying around,” he said. “They are better than Penn State on defense. That’s a fact. Offensive line? They are better than Penn State. Am I going to get hate mail? I’m not dissing Penn State; I’m just telling you the facts.”

–Field Level Media

Purdue Boilermakers linebacker Clyde Washington (42) and Purdue Boilermakers safety Chris Jefferson (17) tackle Penn State Nittany Lions tight end Tyler Warren (44) during the NCAA football game, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind. Penn State won 35-31.

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Nittany Lions expect more offense in Ohio matchup

Penn State coach James Franklin expects the Nittany Lions to be better offensively when they host the Ohio Bobcats on Saturday in State College, Pa.

“We’ve got to be more explosive,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

The Nittany Lions (1-0) rallied for a 35-31 win over host Purdue in their Big Ten opener last Thursday. It took a Sean Clifford-to-Keyvone Lee 10-yard touchdown pass with 57 seconds remaining for the Nittany Lions to pull out the victory.

Clifford was 20-for-37 passing for 282 yards with four touchdowns and an interception that Purdue’s Chris Jefferson returned 72 yards to give the Boilermakers a 31-28 lead with 8:39 remaining. Clifford came through late, completing six of seven passes on Penn State’s game-winning drive.

Mitchell Tinsley had seven catches and a score for 84 yards, while Brenton Strange caught two passes for 77 yards and a touchdown.

Clifford threw TD passes of 12, 67, 29 and 10 yards, but the Nittany Lions rushed for just 98 yards on 32 carries, an average of 3.1 just yards. Kaytron Allen rushed for 31 yards on eight carries, with Lee gaining 30 yards on nine carries, and Clifford adding 11 yards and a touchdown on five carries.

“We found a way to get a tough, gritty win on the road,” Franklin said.

Meanwhile, the Bobcats (1-0) are coming off a 41-38 win over visiting Florida Atlantic University.

Ohio gave up 464 yards but held on after nearly squandering a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Kurtis Rourke completed 27 of 34 passes for 345 yards and four touchdowns, with James Bostic making six catches for 136 yards and a score. Sieh Bangura rushed for 114 yards on 23 carries.

“It’s a great opportunity for our team and we’re focusing on taking a big step,” Ohio coach Tim Albin said. “The time in between your first game and your second game is when you’re going to make your most improvement. That’s an old coaching cliche, but it’s very true. So, we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Northwestern Wildcats running back Evan Hull (26) runs the ball for a touchdown as Ohio Bobcats cornerback John Gregory (13) pursues him during the first half  at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Evan Hull and Northwestern run over Ohio

Ultimately, Northwestern’s decision on a starting quarterback mattered little as the Wildcats ran over and around visiting Ohio University in a 35-6 victory Saturday in Evanston, Ill.

Evan Hull piled up a career-high 216 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 22 carries, including a 90-yard scoring run in the first quarter, as the Wildcats (2-2) were never threatened. Northwestern went with quarterback Ryan Hilinski, who began the year third on the depth chart, with Andrew Marty sidelined by injury. Hilinski finished 12-of-20 passing for 88 yards.

Ohio fell to 0-4 for the first time since 2008 and has yet to win for first-year head coach Tim Albin. Kurtis Rourke completed 20 of 29 passes for 166 yards and rushed for 33 more. But Rourke also had an interception and a lost fumble and left the game with an injury late in the fourth quarter. Backup QB Armani Rogers had a team-high 68 rushing yards.

Ohio avoided its first shutout in eight years when Rogers scored on a 55-yard run on the game’s final play. The extra point was not attempted.

Hull erupted for 161 yards and two scores in the first half alone to power the Wildcats to a 17-0 lead by intermission.

Ohio nearly avoided the shutout on its first possession, but Tristian Vandenberg was wide right on a 31-yard field goal attempt. The Bobcats never got that close to the end zone again until Rogers’ game-ending run.

Northwestern cashed in on Rourke’s fumble with Hull’s 17-yard touchdown run around the right end for a 7-0 lead on its second possession. Late in the first quarter, Hull exploded up the middle for a 90-yard touchdown dash — barely touched — and the Wildcats led 14-0.

Charlie Kuhbander converted a 24-yard field goal inside the final minute of the opening half for the 17-0 lead. Kuhbander made it 20-0 with a 26-yard field with 14:52 remaining.

Northwestern tacked on a 7-yard touchdown from Anthony Tyus III and added the two-point conversion to make it 28-0 with 6:00 left. Jake Arthurs added a 5-yard touchdown run with 42 seconds left for the Wildcats’ final score.

The Wildcats racked up 373 rushing yards on 51 attempts, averaging 7.3 yards per carry. Ohio finished with 348 total yards.

–Field Level Media

Nov 23, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Tommy DeVito (13) looks to pass the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the first quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterbacks on shuffle as Syracuse visits Ohio

When Syracuse faces Ohio on Saturday night in Athens, Ohio, fans would be wise to keep their roster sheets handy.

Both Syracuse head coach Dino Babers and Ohio’s Tim Albin have said they plan on playing more than one quarterback in the nonconference matchup.

For Babers, redshirt junior Tommy DeVito will start his third straight season opener for the Orange, but sophomore Garrett Shrader (a Mississippi State transfer) will also see the field.

“Somebody has to run out there first,” Babers said. “But I think both of those guys will be in the game enough that they’ll be able to show what they can do.”

Albin, 55, is making his debut as a Division I head coach. Since 2005 he had served as Ohio’s offensive coordinator under former head coach Frank Solich and was elevated after Solich announced his retirement July 14.

Albin said he’ll also likely use two quarterbacks in the opener. Redshirt freshman Kurtis Rourke is set as the starter, while UNLV transfer Armani Rogers will also likely get work.

“Both will play at some point in time,” Albin said.

Both teams are coming off trying seasons in 2020. The Bobcats were 2-1 and finished in the nation’s top 25 in both scoring offense and scoring defense, but saw half of their six-game schedule wiped out due to COVID-19 positive tests and contact tracing. The cancellations left them out of the Mid-American title chase.

“We’ll be ready, our guys are ready to get after it,” Albin said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Ohio averaged 216.7 yards rushing per game and RB De’Montre Tuggle led the way with 7.6 yards per carry, 134.3 per game, and accounted for seven scores. Stopping the run will be a primary concern for the Orange, who gave up 32.7 points and 209.2 rushing yards per game last season.

“They remind me of old Nebraska without the option,” Babers said. “They understand the scheme. There is no hesitation when they’re going somewhere. It’s old-school football. I can appreciate that.”

Syracuse was a miserable 1-10 last fall and Babers has had back-to-back losing seasons heading into his sixth with the program. DeVito (593 passing yards, four TDs) and Shrader will work behind an offensive line returning seven players with starting experience.

Syracuse is a slight favorite coming in and is 2-0 all-time against Ohio, but the two teams haven’t played since 1921. The Bobcats haven’t knocked off an ACC opponent since 2005, when they topped visiting Pitt in overtime in Solich’s first home game at OU.

–Field Level Media