Football: Ohio defeats Eastern Michigan 27-20 after offense starts slow

 

Photo by BLAKE NISSEN Kylan Nelson mocks releasing an arrow into the stands after Ohio’s overtime win against Eastern Michigan on Saturday.

 

 

YPSILANTI, Mich. – After Ohio forced an incomplete pass on its final stop Saturday, the Bobcats went into the locker room, ready to celebrate.

The sound of “Stand Up and Cheer,” Ohio’s fight song, boomed from the Bobcats’ locker room at Rynearson Stadium.

Then repeated chants of “We love football” came from the locker room. The Bobcats belt the chant after every win, whether it’s at home or on the road. Each win is hard to obtain, but while this one was especially difficult, it also served as confirmation.

The Bobcats live by the motto “No Limits,” and they learned why that motto fits them well.

Ohio defeated Eastern Michigan 27-20 in double overtime to win its first Mid-American Conference game of the season.

After the game, coach Frank Solich stood outside the locker room in a black polo and gray sweatpants, trying to gather his thoughts. Like the rest of his team, he was exhausted from the heat – it was 92 degrees at kickoff – but he emitted pride.

“This is a tough bunch of kids, man,” Solich said. “And they have proven it to me time and time again. They don’t have to prove it anymore. I just expect this out of them.”

Heading into overtime with the game tied at 13, the Bobcats had to score a touchdown. Nathan Rourke, in his second straight start, didn’t show the same elusiveness he did in the first three games. He was sacked four times.

The offense struggled throughout regulation, not tallying a touchdown until overtime.

“We gotta figure out a way to be able to play 60 minutes and not have to go into an overtime,” Rourke said. “And that falls again on me.”

Despite Rourke and the offense struggling in regulation, the team’s performance in overtime was representative of its motto.

It was hot, but the Bobcats (3-1, 1-0 MAC) needed to score. And even after struggling for most of the game, they did.

Rourke threw a touchdown to Brendan Cope in the first overtime, and he threw one to Cameron Odom in the second overtime. Then the Bobcats stopped the Eagles (2-1, 0-1 MAC) after Odom’s touchdown, and the game was over.

In a game where the Bobcats didn’t score an offensive touchdown until the first overtime, the defense helped the team immensely.

Before the end of the first half, Bradd Ellis returned an interception 46 yards for a touchdown, Ohio’s only touchdown in regulation.

Ellis, a former walk-on, was targeted throughout the game. He was happy to make the play and make Eagles quarterback Brogan Roback look suspect — which is what Roback had tried to do to Ellis throughout the game.

The chants of jubilation that came out of the Bobcats locker room were routine. But even though wins are hard to obtain in the MAC, the Bobcats saw how far they could go when challenged at perhaps the highest level they’ve been challenged this season.

“We play as (we) yell our chant in there, ‘In rain and snow and sleet and the heat,’” Solich said. “That’s the mental part of what we’re all about.”

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