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FCS Duquesne holds off Ohio after failed 2-point try

Bobcats can't overcome penalties, Dukes' long drives

ATHENS – A fade pass to Ryan Luehrman on a potential game-tying two-point conversion try was broken up, and penalty-riddled Ohio lost to an FCS opponent for the first time since 2002 with a 28-26 defeat against Duquesne on Saturday at Peden Stadium.

Kurtis Rourke completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Ty Walton with 9 seconds left to give the Bobcats a chance to rally from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit, but a defender was able to prevent Luehrman from making a similar catch near the right sideline. The Dukes then recovered an onside kick try to give the Northeast Conference, which limits scholarships to 40, its first-ever win against an FBS opponent.

Ohio (0-2) scored the first two times in touched the ball to take a 13-3 lead but did not put points on the board again until a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter after Duquesne (1-1) had scored 22 straight points.

The Bobcats last lost to an FCS opponent in 2002 with a 31-0 defeat to Northeastern.

After have no penalties last week against Syracuse, Ohio was flagged 12 times for 112 yards Saturday, with many of them extending drives for Duquesne, including three times on the Dukes’ final drive that culminated with a 27-yard Brian Bruzdewicz field goal – his fourth of the game – that meant the Bobcats needed a touchdown and a two-point conversion.

“Everything we did well last week – no penalties and we ran the ball well against an ACC team – we did not do well this week, and that’s my responsibility,” said Ohio coach Tim Albin, who is still seeking his first win.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Darius Perrantes threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Joey Isabella on a third-and-goal, giving the Dukes a 25-13 advantage.

Ohio responded with what was essentially its first successful offensive drive of the day, capped by Kurtis Rourke’s 2-yard touchdown run with 10:45 remaining, making it a five-point game.

But penalties prevented the Bobcats defense from getting off the field on the ensuing drive. A pass interference call against John Gregory gave Duquesne a first down on a third-and-3 play, and then on third-and-4, the Dukes converted with an offsides penalty.

“In the moment, the guys might have tightened up a little bit,” Albin said. “They’ve got to trust their technique. One of the pass interferences, I think he just panicked. ‘I’ve got make a play here,’ you know. They’re going to have trust their techniques when we’re playing man coverage, but on the last one on the last drive on third down, the slant route, it’s a catch-bang. I’d have to see the film.”

Duquesne earned its next first down with a 16-yard completion from Perrantes to Cyrus Holder on third-and-15, and after a Wykeen Gill 15-yard run, Ohio had yet one more chance to end the Dukes’ drive. Jet Elad broke up a trick-play pass from Gill, but Bryce Houston was called for roughing the passer despite minimal contact. Officials also flagged him for targeting, but that was waived off upon review.

That ultimately led to a chip-shot field goal rather than what would have been a 40-yard attempt. Bruzdewicz connected with 2:43 to go, which was enough time for Ohio to respond.

Rourke converted a fourth-and-4 with a 14-yard pass to Luehrman and he scrambled for a 17-yard gain to Duquesne’s 30-yard line. After passes of 3 and 11 yards to Chase Cokley, O’Shaan Allison picked up 11 yards on a catch over the middle to give the Bobcats first-and-goal.

After Rourke’s helmet came off on a 2-yard run, he had to be subbed out for one play, and Armani Rogers was sacked. The Dukes picked off Rourke on the next play, but pass interference negated the turnover, leading to Walton’s catch in the end zone.

The way the game started it did not seem like the Bobcats would need any kind of comeback effort. De’Montre Tuggle took the opening kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown, but Stephen Johnson missed what eventually turned out to be an important extra point.

Bruzdewicz kicked a 23-yard field goal to get the Dukes on the board, but after a touchback, Ohio took a 13-3 lead with a 60-yard touchdown pass from Rourke to Cameron Odom.

“We ran two plays and we got (13) points, so did we kind of let up or lighten up a little bit? Maybe, but this staff’s experienced enough that, trust me, that was getting harped on, on the sideline,” Albin said.

However, the game changed from then on. Parrentes connected with Gill for 7 yards on a fourth-and-4 to help Duquesne get its second field goal, a 38-yarder. On the next possession, the Dukes downed a punt at the 1-yard line, leading to the Bobcats giving up their second safety of the season when Allison was brought down in the end zone on the next play, the last of the first quarter.

Ohio’s defense held after the free kick, and the offense got a 37-yard run from Allison to the 3-yard line but did not take advantage, losing 5 yards on the next three plays and then taking a delay of game before Johnson missed a 30-yard field goal try.

The Dukes got a Bruzdewicz 21-yard field goal with 49 seconds left in the half to cut their deficit to 13-11, and they scored on a Perrantes 1-yard sneak on fourth-and-goal to start the second half to go up 18-13.

Jerome Buckner’s 47-yard reception on Ohio’s next drive was wiped out by a holding penalty against Jay Amburgey, and then Duquesne was able to add to its lead with the Isabella touchdown to start the fourth quarter.

Though the Dukes only outgained the Bobcats 362-307, they controlled the ball with long drives resulting in 41:02 in possession time to just 18:58 for the Bobcats. Duquesne had more first downs 26-15.

“They out-executed us,” Albin said. “You could tell their plan from the start. They snapped the ball with one second to go (on the play clock) and tried to control the game.”

Rourke was 14-of-22 passing for 168 yards, while Allison led the rushing attack with 12 carries for 76 yards. Odom had three catches for 74 yards, and Walton made six for 44 yards.

Perrantes, who played in place of injured starter and former Ohio quarterback Joe Mischler, went 23-of-34 passing for 194 yards. Garrett Owens ran 23 times for 82 yards, and Billy Lucas had 14 carries for 77 yards.

Jett Elad led Ohio’s defense with 11 tackles and a pair of pass breakups, while Houston had 10 tackles, including two for loss. Alvin Floyd had seven tackles and was credited with forcing a fumble, but for the second week in a row, the Bobcats did not force a turnover.

Ohio will have only a short time to try to recover from a difficult loss and will have to do so against a preseason top-25 team, with a trip to face Louisiana on Thursday night. A road game against Northwestern completes a nonconference schedule that easily could leave the Bobcats 0-4 entering Mid-American Conference play.

“My grandma would say looking at the sun, you never see the shadows,” Ohio defensive tackle Kai Caesar said. “As leaders we need to keep our heads high, and those younger guys will see that. They will understand what we're wanting, and they do understand what we want to accomplish with this team. So, the biggest thing is just leading even when it hurts. As I tell myself all the time, it's easy to lead when stuff is going good, but you got to know how to lead when it hurts. So, we'll do it. We'll get it done.”

The Bobcats and Ragin’ Cajuns play at 8 p.m. Thursday in Lafayette, Louisiana, on ESPN.

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