You have to give Bobcats points for symmetry.
Ohio ended the 2021 season with an offensive dud, stumbling to the finish in a 21-10 loss on Friday afternoon to Bowling Green at Doyt Perry Stadium that mirrored many of their early-season struggles. The Bobcats (3-9, 3-5 MAC) finished the campaign with their first sub-.500 MAC record since 2008, and the most losses in a season since 2003 (2-10).
Nate Needham kicked four field goals and Matt McDonald threw for 255 yards and a touchdown for Bowling Green (4-8, 3-5), which had lost five of its previous six games. Ohio entered a program-record five-game winning streak against the Falcons.
It’s not hard to figure out how and why that streak ended on a cold, windy day on the plains of Northwestern Ohio. The Bobcats were simply putrid offensively against a defense that was giving up better than 32 points per game.
“I am proud of all our personnel,” said Ohio coach Tim Albin. “The guys kept fighting. We just could not make enough plays offensively.”
Ohio finished with just 52 total plays, and was only 2 of 11 on third-down conversions. The Bobcats totaled a season-low 223 yards — after breaking 400 in each of the four previous games. OU’s previous season low was 250 yards at Louisiana in Week 3.
Ohio netted just two yards in the third quarter. The Bobcats managed just 182 yards of offense before picking up 51 on their final drive, trailing 21-10 with less than 90 seconds remaining.
Quarterback Nathan Rourke finished 12 of 24 for 103 yards and a career-high three interceptions. He managed just one completion over the second and third quarters combined.
Rourke led Ohio with 75 rushing yards as the ‘Cats netted 120 yards on 28 carries.
In their final games with Ohio, RB De’Montre Tuggle had 56 yards from scrimmage on 11 touches, WR Cam Odom had one catch for seven yards, and TE Ryan Luehrman led the team with 42 yards on four catches — all on the final possession.
Safety Alex Wolff had a career-high 13 tackles to help lead a spirited Ohio defense, which limited Bowling Green to 94 rushing yards on 43 carries (2.2 per rush). LBs Bryce Houston (10 tackles) and Cannon Blauser (9) combined for 3.5 tackles for loss.
Needham capped BG’s first possession with a 23-yard field goal and an early 3-0 lead.
Ohio responded with a nine-play drive that covered 86 yards and finished with Armani Rogers’ 1-yard plunge and a 7-3 lead with 14:17 left in the first half.
Jack McCrory led the way on a fourth-and-short stop on the Falcons’ next possession, and Ohio took over on the BG 36. Stephen Johnson cashed in the field position with a 22-yard field goal and a 10-3 lead.
The Falcons tied it 10-10 when McDonald drilled a 14-yard touchdown pass to Austin Osborn with 4:48 left in the half.
Ohio’s offense then went missing the rest of the way. The Bobcats managed just two yards, and an interception, on their final six plays of the first half.
OU opened the second half with consecutive 3-and-outs, and on the second punter Jonah Wieland dropped the long snap. It resulted in an 8-yard loss, and set up Needham’s 43 yard field goal that gave BG a 13-10 lead.
Ohio’s defense rose up for an inspired goal-line stand, with Houston and John Gregory cleaning up the Falcons’ fourth-and-goal attempt, but even that turned out poorly for OU.
On the first play of Ohio’s ensuing possession, Rogers was tackled in the end zone on an option play for a safety.
It was the third safety allowed by OU this season, including safeties in each of the first two games this season.
Leading 15-10, the Falcons took the free kick and cashed in the next series with Needham’s 40-yard field goal and an 18-10 lead with 7:03 remaining.
Rourke was picked off on fourth-and-12 on Ohio’s next series, and BG cashed in the takeaway with Needham’s fourth FG — this one from 39 yard out with 1:19 left.
The Bobcats finished the season just 2-4 in one-possession games. Ohio started the year 0-4, and was 1-7 before back-to-back wins over Miami and Eastern Michigan.
“I felt like the football team gave us an opportunity in every ball game,” said Albin. “Starting with me and this coaching staff, we’ve got to find a way to win the close games early.”
The game was the last at Ohio for at least two members of Albin’s staff. Defensive coordinator (and safeties) coach Ron Collins and co-defensive coordinator (defensive ends) Pete Germano announced last week that they planned to retire at the end of the season.