UB falls to Ohio in first opportunity to clinch MAC East

The Bobcats' rushing attack and turnovers put the Bulls' division title hopes on hold

Jon Simon
November 14, 2018 - 10:27 pm

Photo: Paul Hokanson - UBBulls.com


UB football went in to Athens, Ohio on Wednesday night with a chance to clinch their first Mid-American Conference East Division title since 2008 and came out empty-handed. The Bulls dropped their first conference game of the season by a score of 52-17 to the Ohio Bobcats (7-4, 5-2), falling to 9-2 overall and 6-1 in the MAC.

Ironically, the Bulls started Wednesday’s game the same way they did against Army, the only other team to beat them this season. UB received the opening kick and scored on their first possession, marching down the field with a seven-play, 78-yard drive in just 2:18 that was capped off by a four-yard touchdown run from Tyree Jackson.

Unfortunately for UB, the last 27:42 of the half was all Ohio. The Bulls were never able to find a grove offensively after their first drive and the Ohio offense was locked in from the get-go.

The UB defense failed to contain the Bobcats’ rushing attack in the first half. The trio of quarterback Nathan Rourke, and running backs Maleek Irons and A.J. Ouellette combined for 211 yards on the ground in the first half; Ouellette led the way with 109.

Ohio responded to Tyree Jackson’s early touchdown with a scoring drive on their first possession. Shortly after the game was tied, safety Kylan Nelson intercepted an under-thrown Jackson pass to Charlie Jones. Following a few big runs from Ouellette, Rourke gave Ohio a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter with a two-yard rushing score.

The Ohio offense rode their momentum right into the next quarter. The Bobcats scored less than a minute into the second frame after Rourke and freshman receiver Jerome Buckner hooked up for a 60-yard catch and run touchdown, giving Ohio a 21-7 lead.

Less than a minute later, Jackson threw his second interception of the game and gave the ball back to the Bobcats at the UB 34-yard line. The Bulls defense was able to get a stop in the red zone and force a field goal but turnovers would continue to hurt UB.

On the next drive, the UB offense seemed to finally hit their stride. After a few solid rushes from Kevin Marks, Tyree Jackson broke off a 50-yard run, but fumbled inside the Ohio five-yard line, committing his third turnover of the half.

Turnovers weren’t the only issue for Jackson on Wednesday night. The junior had trouble hitting his receivers most of the night, overthrowing his target on a number of occasions. Jackson also took a few hard hits throughout the game and came up limping, but that shouldn’t affect on his status for next weeks game.

Ouellette gave Ohio a 31-7 lead with less than a minute left in the half with an 11-yard rushing touchdown, capping off a 96-yard drive that started from the spot of Jackson’s fumble.

Adam Mitcheson made a 40-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter to cut the Ohio lead to 31-10 at halftime.

The Bobcats came out of the locker room and made sure early in the third quarter that there would be no type of comeback from the Bulls. A pair of touchdown catches from Ouellette and Papi White would give Ohio a 45-10 lead through three quarters of play.

UB was able to put up some points on the board in the final frame. Kevin Marks found the end zone on an 11-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to make the score 45-17, but that was as close as the Bulls would get.

Ouellette capped off his big night with a 33-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter to reach the final 52-17 score. The fifth-year senior finished the game with 196 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns (1 rushing and 1 receiving).

Despite losing to the team right behind them in the MAC East Division standings, the Bulls still hold sole possession of first place. No matter what happens in Ohio’s final regular season game against Akron (4-5, 2-4), UB can clinch the MAC East title and a spot in the conference championship game with a win over Bowling Green (2-8, 1-5) next Friday.

The Bulls will wrap up their regular season schedule at Bowling Green on Friday, November 23. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.

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