Ohio Head Coach Frank Solich
On senior quarterback Nathan Rourke's ability to control the game:
"He had a great day, and I am so proud of that young man in terms of how he has contributed to this program from day one when he showed up here. Obviously, there were some good things and some not so good things that happened early in the season for us, but he's the kind of guy who's able to drive past all of that and put it behind him if something bad happens and move forward. I think he showed his complete talent today, his throwing ability - some great catches by receivers also – and his running ability along with when it looks like he's down or stopped to be able to get another five or six yards, sometimes to pick up a first down and keep drives going. He was special at that today."
On the game plan of putting more plays in senior quarterback Nathan Rourke's hands:
"We wanted to be ready to throw the ball. We've had pretty good receivers from the tight end through the wide outs and slots, so getting the ball in their hands is usually going to be a plus for us. We always try to start with the running game. If you look at football, those teams that run the ball and are able to run the ball generally are always in the game and have a chance to win. You can throw for 300 yards, but if you rush for 300 yards, somehow that doesn't equate. Those rushing yards mean a little bit more as the game goes on. You want to be able to do both though and I think that's kind of what we showed a little bit of today."
On the offense being effective despite not having a set lineup:
"We felt like coming into the season that we had skilled receivers. We'd be two deep across the board at least and, obviously, that played out today in terms of the way it is. The running backs are the same way. We feel like we've had a really good group of running backs, but the problem is they've been banged up. We were going with our third and fourth team running back a couple weeks ago. We thought [redshirt sophomore] Julian [Ross] was healthy but he reinjured himself so that's not good. [Redshirt freshman] O'Shaan [Allison] got a little banged up, but he also had his eye swollen basically shut, so a one-eyed back is probably not what you look for. We were able to get De'Montre [Tuggle] going, so I guess what I'm getting at is we have really good depth there and that showed today."
On the cause of redshirt freshman running back O'Shaan Allison's swollen eye:
"It was an allergic reaction that happened during the week."
On having a quarterback to consistently rely on in the fourth quarter:
"The teams that really win, who are really good football teams that have great offenses, have really outstanding quarterbacks, and we're fortunate to have one."
On his thoughts during redshirt senior safety Javon Hagan's deflection in the fourth quarter:
"Well pre-snap, I thought we could be in pretty good shape. About three steps after pre-snap, I was a little concerned, because he was going down the crease of a safety that was there with nobody redirecting him. It was all going to come back to Javon being able to break on the ball and make the play. It was a great play. He can't get outstretched any more than what he was there to get his hand on the ball. I think that does show his real ability and athleticism, being able to jump, stretch and move the way he did and control his body to get his hand on the ball."
On the defense's ability to finish plays:
"I don't think we're where we want to be, but I think that we did some things in the second half that we have not been really doing in the few games early on. I see that as progress for our defense, but we've got work to do."
On young players stepping up on the defense to make plays:
"I think as you go through the season, you are fortunate if you don't have guys banged up and you don't have to have guys step in and play crucial roles for you. We have guys that are doing that, and that's all a huge plus for us. I think it makes those guys feel good that they're able to step in. We've got confidence in them in terms of contributing and for them to contribute the way they did in this game on both sides of the ball, I think that was great."
On the importance of the low snap counts:
"Both teams had 74 snaps, so we'll take that because they're a hurry up offense. If you look at the time of possession, we had close to nine minutes more possession time than what they had. They're a hurry-up team and, obviously, we're a team that's not a true hurry-up. We can go hurry-up, but a lot of times, we're trying to get ourselves in the best play possible. We're reading defenses and changing plays, all those kind of things. So, I thought we managed their speed offense very well. We were ready to substitute when they substituted because then the official is supposed step over the ball and hold the snap until both teams are lined up and ready to go. I thought that worked well for us. We got caught, I think, one time. You don't want to get caught, period, but we'll take a look at that and try to get that resolved. Overall, I was pleased with how they handled it."
On the importance of substitutions and possession times for fourth quarter stops:
"It was big. They were getting things done throughout the game, but we did find ways to come up with some big plays to stop them. We didn't hurt ourselves by having too many men on the field, by them getting a play snap and us not being lined up or us being confused in the secondary or what we were doing upfront. I think that worked as well as we wanted it to."
On the defensive deflection to seal the game:
"The game is all about big plays and explosive plays. You can have drives going where you're 1st-and-10 over and over again for 90 yards to score, but one mistake there and you're taken out of the drive. You get an explosive play for 40-50 yards or someone scores on it, that's money in the bank right there. You're always looking for big and explosive plays in the game, and that's really on both sides of the ball. They did a good job, even though we got them in 2nd-and-long, 3rd-and-long at times, getting out of that. That's something that we've got to get better at, but there was improvement today on the defensive side of it, and we've got to get more improvement going."
Ohio Redshirt Senior Safety Javon Hagan
On making one of the biggest plays in the game:
"I was in cover one, and everyone was manned up, and Kent actually had a miscommunication on their part. I was covering deep middle and was following the eyes of the quarterback, and I just made a play, a big play that meant something to the team and got us off the field."
On the last five minutes of the game and holding the lead:
"It means a lot to finally get the job done. We executed the goal at hand, and we kept preaching finishing week-in and week-out. In previous games, we haven't finished as a defense, and especially doing our job to help the offense. Getting the defense off the field is our main priority, and no matter what happens, football is a game of good plays and bad plays, so you have to stay positive and play for each other."
On the tempo of Kent's offense:
"It's hard to prepare for a team like that. You never know how fast the speed is. We just tried to get the best prepared that we can Monday through Friday so we can prepare. They were going very fast. We saw their players even get winded at how fast they were going. Once we noticed that, that's what made us feel better, knowing that we weren't the only ones feeling fatigued. We kept prepping the hurry-up offense that Kent has, and the scout team helped us with their plays. We got a bit of a taste of that last year, and that helped us out knowing how fast they usually play."
On what went through his head when going up to deflect the ball on a big play:
"Honestly, I didn't even know there was a receiver behind me. I was deep middle, so I was following the quarterback's eyes, and then as soon as he let go of the ball, I kind of blacked out and made the play, because when you start thinking, that's where you start to trip up and make a mistake. It was one of the things where you're here for a reason, and that is to make the play, and that's what we preach all week. Make plays and stand out"
On other defensive players stepping up and making big plays:
"It felt great to play as a unit. We had a couple new guys come into the mix. Hats off to the defensive line for creating pressure and sacking the quarterback. That was huge. Keye Thompson definitely stepped up. Hats off to him as well. It's basically just the next man up. You never know what could happen. In a game full of ups and downs, you have to be prepared, and we had a lot of guys prepared throughout the week to get in the game. Just to see those guys step up and make plays and feel confident means a lot to me as a captain."
Ohio Senior Quarterback Nathan Rourke
On what it meant to break the 300 passing yard barrier:
"It's pretty cool. I haven't done it. I'm not big on individual stats, but I wanted that one."
On how the offense kept its edge:
"We value every single drive that we have and want to get points out of it. I think we had to adapt that mentality, especially with an explosive offense like Kent. They can score in a blink of an eye, so we had to be ready and make sure that every drive was meaningful, which I think we did a really good job of today."
On the offensive cohesion and working as a unit even when several key players were out of the game:
"It just goes to show our depth. No matter who's in there, we all work our tail off for one another, and we didn't leave too much on the field. We had a really good day in terms of moving the ball but also bringing a lot of heart as well."
On how it felt to get the win:
"It's a big game, and all of them are going to be but it's big against a MAC East opponent. They were unbeaten and had two wins in the MAC-East division. Like every single other win, we're going to enjoy it, but we have to be ready to move on to Ball State, which is a big game as well."
On reading Kent State's defense:
"Whenever you start the game and are able to move the ball, it's always a good thing. Obviously, we've struggled in the past getting our offense going, but we were able to put up points on the first possession. It was a good way to get into rhythm, which was important for us for the rest of the game."
On the offense becoming more consistent:
"The last couple of games we have become a little more consistent, but you don't go to Detroit and win it by just playing well in our last couple of games. We have to go out again and show it at Ball State and get things going and go one game at a time."
On piecing together an offense with several key players out:
"We have some really selfless guys in the locker room. They are all working their butts off. They're young, but they come in and do the work, and when their number is called, they're ready for it. That's why we've been able to move the ball like we've been able to. It was great to see some guys have great games and get some recognition for the work that they've been putting in."
On what this game meant for the future:
"It was a real statement game for us. We had to show that we're better than what we've shown so far, and we need to show this in more games with good opponents like Kent."
Ohio Redshirt Sophomore Wide Receiver Isiah Cox
On stepping up and becoming a go-to receiver during the game:
"We all go out there knowing that we have to execute on every play and every drive. Offense did good today, and we just kept creating opportunities."
On adding something extra to the offense:
"I just try to stay focused and do my job."
On waiting for his opportunity to step up and make big plays:
"I feel like it was a long wait, but at the same time, I just want to win. It's a good opportunity. I just keep doing my job and execute."
On playing with a quarterback like Nathan Rourke:
"It's great. Once we get everything together and play together, it's really good. Rourke kept us up and moving and motivated and let us know that everything was still good. We just kept making big drives and he found the open targets and making plays when they needed to be made."
Kent State Head Coach Sean Lewis
On the game overall:
"It was a great ballgame. The kids played their tails off. Obviously, it's a really hard place, down here, to win. Coach Solich, a tip of the cap to him and his crew. The kids played really hard. We knew it was going to be a four-quarter battle. It kind of turned into one of those games where we're going back-and-forth and whoever can kind of break serve first was going to have an advantage. You want to have the third-and-short call back, and that's on me to get the kids a better opportunity there at the end where they ended up breaking our serve and that ended up being the difference in the game. The kids fought hard. They need to clean some things up, obviously, but that starts with the plan and the coaching more so than anything else it would put our kids in the best position to succeed. But, we're really pleased with the effort of the preparation, and we've just got to get back to work, put our nose down, put the blinders on, pull together and go forward as we get to come back home and defend Dix."
On Ohio senior quarterback Nathan Rourke:
"He's one of the premiere players in our league for a reason. The accolades are well earned. It'll really do it for a kid who was really efficient on first down, who kept it ahead of schedule most of the day. He was able to move the ball down the field. Really accurate passer, big plays, as advertised. We've got to do a better job containing him."
On Kent State's defense:
"I thought they did a really solid job against the run, and we did some things to limit the run-game. And then in the back end, if you commit numbers to the run game, you've got to hold up in the backend. We did some things really, really well, and we did some things that we've got to improve on. Again, that starts with the plan and what we're doing as coaches. First and foremost, that's on us, and the positions that we're putting them in. So, we'll be better for them. We've got great kids that are highly coachable, that want to win. They're doing things that winning requires, and we'll get back to winning next week."
On Ohio scoring before halftime:
"Obviously, in that down and distance, you want to get off the field. And we obviously wanted to limit them points before we went into the half, so that we'd go in with an advantage. We've got to see on the tape what the breakdown was with that. But it's on us as coaches to make sure our kids are in the best position, first and foremost."
On Kent State junior quarterback Dustin Crum's performance
"There's a reason that he earned that opportunity through his preparation. He's one of the most productive kids. He really managed all the critical situations that we put him in, and we took the opportunity. We told him there wasn't a short leash, to run with it, and if you take hold of it, it's going to be yours. He has done that. He has got the respect of the team. And, obviously, the production speaks for itself because of the way he goes about preparing, week in and week out. I'm really pleased with what he has done and the opportunity that he has and where he has taken us."
On Kent State's 3rd-and-10 incompletion in the fourth quarter:
"We had a look that we wanted. I wanted us to get set a little bit quicker to go. I thought we kind of had an advantage there with tempo. We just have to play a little bit of pitch and catch. [Ohio redshirt senior safety Javon] Hagan will probably be a first-team all-conference safety this year. Big-time players step up and make big-time plays. These types of games need to be must-win situations. That's a great job by him. He made an impactful play a year ago in this game, and that's what good players do. They show up and make plays."
On Kent State sophomore wide receiver Isaiah McKoy:
"He's one of our most explosive kids. Obviously, he's still really young. He has played a lot of football, so I think it can get looked past, how young he still is as a sophomore, as he's learning how to make sure that he's never too high or never too low so he can be consistently good and not just occasionally great. The kid's got a bright future, works his tail off, has really grown. With his maturity this year, I'm looking forward to all the strides that he's going to have in the future."
On moral victories in the game:
"I'm pleased with the way our kids fought and the way that they prepared. Their attention to detail needs to go up and continue to improve. The process that we have to win, our kids are doing a great job holding that in high regard. I'm not a moral victory guy. There's lessons that need to be learned here about the way in which we have to be very attentive to our jobs, to our tasks, and that there's no details that are too small, because that can be the difference between a tight ballgame, a one-possession ballgame, such as this. It's not so much the moral victories, but the lessons of going into a hostile environment, playing a team that knows how to win and has been there, and us taking the lessons from today and shaping that going forward so that we can continue to learn how to win and have sustained success like they way we know they can."
On what Kent State plans to look for in film:
"It's hard to tell right now, until I look at it myself. We always have "Own It Sunday" where we have to remove the egos, we have to detach the emotions, and just go and improve and get better. When I have the chance to look at the tape, I'll have a better idea of what that is."
On Ohio's fumble recovery on the punt return:
"I believe it was number 14 who got on the ball first. He got over onto his back so they said he had possession of the ball, which I think he did. I thought he had landed on a defender, but they said he landed on the ground. So with possession of the ball, he lands on his back, play's dead, obviously we come out of it. But I think it's a good call. I was mistaken and thought there was a player underneath, so the refs did a good job handling that."
On the status of Kent State freshman running back Joachim Bangda and sophomore running back Xavier Williams:
"Getting healthy, day-by-day. We have been working them slowly in, and we just have to see how they progress. They're both injuries that we don't want to linger by bringing them back too fast."