AKRON, Ohio — The Rubber City was the perfect place for a bounce back performance.
De’Montre Tuggle rushed for 201 yards and a score, helping the Ohio University football team shake off four weeks of non-conference frustration while also handing new head coach Tim Albin his first victory Saturday during a 34-17 decision over host Akron in the Mid-American Conference opener for both programs at InfoCision Stadium.
The Bobcats (1-4, 1-0 MAC East) twice found themselves looking at 7-point deficits, but the guests reeled off 24 unanswered points over the final 20:41 of regulation to turn a 17-10 third quarter deficit into a comfortable 2-for-1 winning margin.
Tuggle’s lone score ultimately came with 1:16 left in regulation on a 26-yard scamper, which concluded the scoring at 34-17. Tuggle’s run, ironically, came after the Bobcats tried to run the clock out with a running play and a kneel down, only to have the Zips (1-4, 0-1) use their timeouts after each of those snaps.
Facing a third-and-10, Tuggle took the handoff and rumbled 26 yards to the house — completing his career-high rushing day with an average of 11.8 yards per carry on 17 attempts.
OU churned out a season-high 398 rushing yards and finished the day with a sizable 458-327 advantage in total yards of offense. The Zips won the aerial battle by a 215-60 margin in yardage.
Both teams committed a single turnover in the contest, with Ohio claiming a 25-19 edge in first downs. The Green and White also recorded seven of the 11 sacks on the afternoon.
Stephen Johnson nailed a 25-yard field goal at the 4:44 mark of the first quarter, giving Ohio an early 3-0 edge. Cory Smigel, however, booted a 23-yard field goal for UA with 6:08 left in the first half for a 3-all tie.
Akron took its first lead of the day on a 45-yard pass from D.J. Irons to Konata Mumpfield with 3:12 remaining for a 10-3 game.
The Bobcats countered with a 2-yard scoring pass from Kurtis Rourke to Isiah Cox with nine seconds to go in the half, making it a 10-all contest at the break.
Akron secured its final lead at the 8:34 mark of the third period as Irons found Tristian Brank on a 9-yard scoring pass for a 17-10 cushion.
The Bobcats countered with a 7-yard Armani Rogers touchdown run at the 5:41 mark for a 17-all tie headed into the finale.
Ohio took a permanent lead on a 26-yard field goal by Johnson with 13:30 left in regulation, then Rogers rumbled 22 yards to paydirt with 6:12 left in the game for an OU 27-17 advantage.
Rogers followed Tuggle with 83 rushing yards on 12 carries and also went 1-of-3 passing for four yards. Rourke went 7-of-12 passing for 56 yards, including one pick and one score. O’Shaan Allison hauled in a team-best three passes for six yards.
Bryce Houston led the defense with eight tackles and Will Evans forced a fumble that was recovered by Justin Birchette. Evans and Cannon Blauser also recorded two sacks apiece for the guests.
Irons led the Zips with 69 rushing yards on 16 carries and was also 9-of-10 passing for 114 yards and two scores. Michael Mathison led Akron with five catches for 53 yards.
Jaylen Kelly-Powell led the UA defense with 11 tackles. Charles Amankwaa came away with an interception as well.
Ohio returns to action on Saturday as it hosts Central Michigan during homecoming weekend. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.
Editor’s Note: This story will appear in the Wednesday sports editions of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, Point Pleasant Register and The Daily Sentinel.
© 2021 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.