By Rick Jabot
ATHENS, Ohio —The Ohio football team (5-1, 2-0 MAC) is set take on the Northern Illinois Huskies (2-4, 1-1 MAC) this Saturday (Sept. 23) in DeKalb, Ill. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. ET at Huskie Stadium. The game can be seen on ESPNU with Drew Carter and Dustin Fox on the call.
The Bobcats’ matchup can also be heard on the Ohio Sports Network from Learfield. Russ Eisenstein returns for his 16th season as the “Voice of the Bobcats” and will be joined by Ohio alum Rob Cornelius, who has been a part of the broadcasts for two decades.
SERIES HISTORY VS. NIU
The Bobcats have a record of 24-11-14 against the Huskies, meeting for the first time in 1968.
Northern Illinois and Ohio last faced off on Oct. 22, 2022 on Frank Solich Field at Peden Stadium.
After the Bobcats took an early lead, NIU tied the game, 17-17, with a two-point conversion in the third quarter.
With seven minutes remaining in the game, a 22-yard receiving touchdown by Sam Wiglusz followed by a successful PAT gave the Bobcats a 24-17 lead. After four consecutive NIU incomplete passes, Ohio went into victory formation, solidifying their fourth home win of the season.
The Huskies are currently 2-4 on the season and 1-1 in MAC play, defeating Akron last week, 55-14. Saturday’s matchup agianst the Bobcats marks their first home conference game of the season as well as Homecoming.
On the season, Northern Illinois averages 25.2 points on 164.7 rushing yards and 194.8 passing yards per game.
Individually, junior running back Antario Brown leads the team on the ground, netting 616 rushing yards on 93 carries. So far this season, he’s recorded five rushing and one receiving touchdown.
In the air, redshirt senior quarterback Rocky Lombardi is 82-for-146, throwing five touchdowns and four interceptions in 1,015 yards over six games. Lombardi also has two rushing touchdowns on the season.
Senior wide receiver Kacper Rutkiewicz currently has a team-best 20 receptions and two touchdowns on 313 yards while redshirt junior wide receiver Trayvon Rudolph has one touchdown in 15 receptions.
Senior defensive end Raishein Thomas has 34 tackles, highlighted by 19 solo stops and four tackles for loss. Junior safety Nate Valcarcel leads the team in interceptions with two.
Redshirt sophomore kicker Kanon Woodill is currently 11-for-11 in PATs and 2-for-3 in field goals, with his longest clocking in at 49 yards.
LAST TIME OUT
The Ohio football team (5-1, 2-0 MAC) continued their winning streak on Frank Solich Field at Peden Stadium, defeating the Kent State Golden Flashes 42-17. This victory protected their undefeated record on Frank Solich Field and marked the first time the team kicked off MAC play 2-0 since 2016.
In the air, graduate student quarterback Kurtis Rourke went 20-for-32 with 300 passing yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, Rourke finished the day with one touchdown on 26 rushing yards.
Graduate student quarterback Parker Navarro finished the game with a team-best 65 rushing yards, highlighted by a 52-yard gain. Redshirt sophomore running back Sieh Bangura had another stellar Homecoming performance, scoring his first two rushing touchdowns of the season on nine carries.
Junior wide receiver Miles Cross finished the game with a season-best 125 yards and two touchdowns, making the most of his seven receptions. His performance earned him his first MAC East Offensive Player of the Week title. Graduate student wide receiver Sam Wiglusz also scored, finishing the day with 4 yards on four receptions.
Defensively, graduate student linebacker Bryce Houston led the charge against the Falcons, recording a team-best 10 tackles and snagging the only interception of the day. Graduate student safety Walter Reynolds was right behind Houston, finishing with seven total tackles.
Freshman kicker Gianni Spetic went 6-for-6 in PATs, setting a personal record.
After a scoreless first quarter, Cross put the Bobcats on the board with a 25-yard passing touchdown. Kent State evened the score, but a 30-yard throw to Wiglusz and a four-yard rushing touchdown from Rourke gave Ohio a 14-point lead heading into halftime.
The Golden Flashes kicked off the third quarter with a 37-yard field goal, putting the score at 21-10. Cross’s second touchdown of the day followed by Bangura’s first rushing touchdown of the season extended Ohio’s lead to 20 points.
Bangura wrapped up the Bobcats’ scoring with 13:26 left in the game and Kent State scored their second and final touchdown the following drive, solidifying Ohio’s 42-17 Homecoming victory.
Currently, the Bobcats are 5-1 overall and 2-0 in MAC play. They average 24.50 points on 144.3 rushing yards and 203.67 passing yards per game.
In the air, quarterback Kurtis Rourke is 76-for-119, throwing eight touchdowns in 909 yards. He’s also a threat on the ground and has net 133 yards on 27 carries.
Sam Wiglusz leads the receivers with 25 catches and two touchdowns in 248 yards. while Miles Cross has four touchdowns on 246 yards and 17 receptions. Tight end Will Kacmarek also has two touchdowns on the season.
On the ground, running back Sieh Bangura has 83 carries in 328 rushing yards, scoring his first two rushing touchdowns of the season against Kent State. Running back O’Shaan Allison has 239 yards on 78 carries with one touchdown.
Defensively, linebacker Bryce Houston leads the team, recording 59 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions on the season. Linebacker Keye Thompson has 32 tackles and one fumble recovery, which he returned for a touchdown against Bowling Green. With eight different defenders snagging interceptions so far this season, the Bobcats are first in the MAC.
Freshman kicker Gianni Spetic has made six field goals off nine attempts, with his longest being 40 yards. He is currently 16-for-16 in PATs.
To read the rest of this week’s notes, click here.
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