Disaster strikes in Athens, as the Duquesne Dukes stun the ‘Cats in dominant fashion.
Ohio has some re-evaluating to do after 28-point underdog Duquesne came into Peden Stadium and dominated Ohio for large parts of the game en route to a 28-26 victory on Saturday afternoon.
Ohio started the game strong, with two touchdowns on its first three plays, racing out to a 13-0 lead earlyu in the first quarter.
Ohio’s De’Montre Tuggle returned the opening kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown, but the extra point was missed, which wound up being a key play of the game— unbeknownst at the time. There was some reporting prior to the game that Ohio’s long snapper was unavailable, which if this were the case, could well have contributed to the miss.
Later on, the Bobcats scored on its first offensive possession, a two-play, 75-yard drive featuring a 60-yard pass from QB Kurtis Rourke to WR Cam Odom and a 15-yard TD run by Tuggle on an option pitch from Rourke.
The wheels fell off the wagon for Ohio’s offense after that for much of the next two quarters, lowlighted by suffering the ultimate indignity of being pinned down to their own one-yard line and committing a safety after getting tackled for loss in their endzone.
After the safety, Ohio had a chance to score three points from 25 yards out, but, bizzarely, tried to commit a fake field goal play instead. They were whistled for delay of game, as the snap came after the play clock ran out. On the next attempt, this time from 30 yards out after the five-yard penalty, was a miss for the ‘Cats.
Meanwhile, the Dukes offense started dominating in the second quarter, swinging momentum in their direction. Duquesne’s FG in the last minute of the second quarter reduced the Dukes deficit to two points at halftime, 13-11.
Duquesne worked a simple formula in the second half, with inside runs by RB Garrett Owens complemented by short passes primarily to WR Joey Isabella from QB Darius Perrantes.
Joey Isabella, who finished with eight receptions and a touchdown, is brother of former UMass star and current Arizona Cardinal WR Andy Isabella.
Perrantes played a masterful game filling in for an injured Joe Mischler, finishing with 194 yards passing and a TD pass. Perrantes was money on third down in the second half, converting drive after drive.
After not scoring in the second or third quarters, Ohio’s offense came back to life in the fourth quarter to close the deficit to 25-20, with a 10-play, 71-yard drive featuring some effective power running game and capped by a two-yard run by Rourke.
The Bobcat defense was unable to get a single stop of the Dukes offense in the second half, with Duquesne scoring on drives of 10, 12, and 15 plays. On the game, the Dukes dominated time of possession, 41 minutes to Ohio’s 19.
Despite all that, the Bobcats had a chance on its last drive to send the game into overtime after a three-yard TD pass from Rourke to Ty Walton with nine seconds remaining brought Ohio within two, but the ‘Cats could not make the two-point conversion. The attempted pass was a good match up for Ohio as Bobcats’ TE Ryan Luehrman who was in single coverage against an opponent over whom he had a six-inch height advantage, but Rourke and Luehrman were unable to connect.
In addition to Perrantes’ play, a major factor preventing the Ohio defense from getting off the field in the second half was a glut of penalties on third down, extending drives repeatedly for the Dukes.
The Bobcats did not get called for a penalty last week, but were hit with 12 for 112 yards against the Dukes this week.
In fairness to Ohio, a few of the penalties were highly-questionable calls, such as when Bobcat LB Bryce Houston was penalized for roughing the passer and targeting on a play where Houston appeared to marginally contact the passer. The targeting aspect of the call was ultimately reversed but the roughing aspect gave the Dukes another first down.
But no matter the circumstances and questions, a loss is a loss, and Ohio will be doing a lot of introspection after allowing Duquense to have the advantage all game long.
The 0-2 Bobcats will look to figure things out before they head to Louisiana next Thursday, September 16, at 8:00pm, to take on the Ragin’ Cajuns. The game is currently scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN.