Football: Ohio defeats Mid-American Conference East rival Bowling Green

 

Ohio’s Greg Windham runs the ball down the field during a game against Bowling Green at Peden Stadium on Saturday. (FILE)

 

In the last four years, Bowling Green has outscored Ohio 168-51. The Bobcats hadn’t beat the Falcons since 2011 when they won 29-28 at Bowling Green.

Ohio (4-2, 2-0 Mid-American Conference) wanted to break the losing streak against MAC rival Bowling Green (1-5, 0-2 MAC) on Saturday — and it did.

Ohio defeated Bowling Green 30-24 to go on a three-game winning streak.

“It’s definitely a good feeling to come out on top,” strong safety Toran Davis said. “And especially homecoming, doing it in front of alumni, people that were on the losing side of it.”

Along with the Bobcats erasing a four-game losing streak to the Falcons, their position in the MAC is a bit more solidified, too. Ohio is 2-0 in the MAC, and Akron is the only other team that is 2-0 in the MAC East.

And with Bowling Green falling to 0-2 in the MAC — Bowling Green is usually a MAC East powerhouse — Ohio should be favorites to win the division.

Ohio’s offense looked as balanced as it had earlier in the season, totaling 386 yards of offense. The Bobcats scored three rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown.

The Bobcats scored their first touchdown of the game on the ground, as running back Maleek Irons ran for a 17-yard touchdown. Irons ran for two touchdowns in the game and 183 yards.

Bo Hardy contributed as well, rushing for a team-leading 81 yards.

“Our offensive line has done a great job,” Bo Hardy said. “You can probably drive a truck through some of the holes I’ve seen. Anybody can get yards honestly. I credit them 100 percent.”

Along with the running backs continuing to produce, the Bobcats’ passing game improved. At Miami, Ohio only totaled 56 passing yards. Quarterback Greg Windham threw for 190 yards and completed 74 percent of his passes.

“He’s shown the ability to be an outstanding passer,” coach Frank Solich said. “At times he may get off on his reads a little bit, sometimes he may want to make a special play, and he’d like to have a few of those kind of plays back. But when he’s rhythm, and when he’s really playing well, he gets a lot done for you.”

The Bobcats’ offense returned to functioning at a decent level, and their defense was still aggressive. Ohio forced three turnovers in the first half, picking up two interceptions and a fumble.

The defense provided support for the offense, something it has done for the majority of the season.

“I feel we have the best D-line (defensive line) in the MAC,” free safety Javon Hagan said. “Our secondary has a lot of talent, and I feel the press feels that since we’re young we can’t make plays.”

Hagan is a redshirt freshman, and Saturday’s game was the second start of his career at Ohio. He was one of the key players on the defensive end, picking up nine tackles and his second interception of the season.

“(Hagan has) worked his way into where he’s really a good football player for us already as a freshman,” Solich said. “Not only does he make picks and do some of the flashy kind of stuff, but he’s a physical guy against the run.”

With Ohio coming off its third straight win, it will play Eastern Michigan in Athens next Saturday at 2 p.m.

And if the Bobcats beat the Eagles, they will be 3-0 in the MAC. Last season, the Bobcats were 2-1 in their first three games of conference play, beating Akron and Miami, but losing to Western Michigan.

But Ohio isn’t taking its two straight conference wins for granted, either.

“Nothing’s changed,” Windham said. “In the beginning of the season we all said it, we said we’re going to get a MAC championship this year.”

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