ATHENS, Ohio—The Ohio football team (1-0) opened the 2022 season Saturday evening (Sept.3), defeating Florida Atlantic (1-1), 41-38, at Frank Solich Field at Peden Stadium. The night also brought new career highs for redshirt junior quarterback Kurtis Rourke (Oakville, Ontario, Canada), breaking multiple of his personal records. Rourke hit 345 passing yards, surpassing his 308 yard record and threw four touchdown passes, beating his previous record of three.
“Great start at Peden stadium, the electricity, the crowd. Very, very loud and energetic,” said head coach Tim Albin. “It was very difficult to hear on the sideline with the guys. For the love of the university and the amount of people in the stands on a holiday weekend was just phenomenal. So, hats off to everyone. I couldn’t be happier for the football team. Hats off to Willie Taggart and his group. They fought back.”
Florida Atlantic proved to be a tough competitor from the start, scoring the first seven points of the game with 11:10 remaining in the first quarter. Two drives later, freshman kicker Nathanial Vakos (Avon, Ohio) put the Bobcats on the board with a 29-yard field goal. The Owls soon retaliated and tacked on three more points with a 24-yard field goal, putting Ohio behind 10-3 to end the first quarter.
To start the second quarter, Rourke rushed up the middle for a seven-yard drive before completing a six-yard pass to graduate student wide receiver Sam Wiglusz (Brecksville, Ohio), tying the game at 10-10. On the following drive, Florida Atlantic’s quarterback Perry N’Kosi threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jahmal Edrine with 10:38 on the clock to regain the lead with a score of 17-10. The Bobcats quickly answered with a 36-yard field goal attempt by kicked Vakos. With 1:24 left in the second quarter, Ohio kicker closes the gap making the score 17-13 heading into the third quarter.
Ohio’s first drive of the second half starting at 14:54 resulted in a 14-yard rush from Rourke and ended in a pass to Wiglusz, giving the Bobcats’ their first lead of the game. With 4:24 remaining in the third quarter, sophomore wide receiver Miles Cross (Bowie, Md.) completed a one-yard pass, extending Ohio’s lead to 27-17.
“I liked our intensity. I like the way we came out and approached the field. We battled the ups and downs and kept steady as much as possible. I think that’s just typical with every defense; we just want to stay as consistent as possible,” said redshirt senior linebacker Bryce Houston (Lewis Center, Ohio). “I was really proud of the way we stepped up, especially when it was crunch time when we needed to stop, we got to stop. When we needed a couple of turnovers in order to change the game up, we got those. I’m proud of the way we played today.”
Rourke continued to dominate, opening the fourth quarter with a two-yard rush. The Owls answered the next drive, cutting Ohio’s lead to 10 points with 10:22 remaining in the game. Ohio bounced back with a five-play, 83-yard drive, concluding with a touchdown from graduate student wide receiver James Bostic (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) to put the Bobcats ahead, 41-24. Two Florida Atlantic touchdowns in the following three drives cut Ohio’s lead to three points with 4:15 remaining in the game.
After the Bobcats were forced to punt, FAU took over with 1:37 remaining in the game at their own 41 yard line. The Bobcats defense put together their strongest series of the game, forcing the Owls to turn the ball over on downs with 32 seconds to go, allowing Ohio to go into victory formation and secure the 41-38 victory.
COURTESY OHIO ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS