Backups Hunt, Navarro lead Ohio rout of GSU and 10th win

Published 5:23 pm Saturday, December 16, 2023

CONWAY, S.C. (AP) — Rickey Hunt woke up edgy and nervous Saturday, having no idea he would soon have one of the best performances in Ohio football history.

Hunt, a freshman, ran for four touchdowns and caught a fifth as Ohio overcame a host of transfer portal losses to win its fifth-straight bowl game, beating Georgia Southern 41-21 at the Myrtle Beach Bowl.

“I did not see this coming at all,” said Hunt, pressed into service when the Bobcats top two running backs in Sieh Bangura and O’Shaan Allison entered the portal after combining for 1,263 yards and 10 touchdowns.

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Hunt’s five touchdowns were the best single-game showing ever for the Bobcats. He finished with 115 yards and had scoring runs of 2, 6, 40 and 9 yards. Hunt also had an 18-yard TD catch off a jump pass from fill-in quarterback Parker Navarro.

“The last two weeks, it was shaky,” Hunt said. “We lost some big players.”

Along with Bangura and Allison, Ohio played without starting quarterback Kurtis Rourke, who threw for 2,207 yards and 11 touchdowns, but also went to the portal and committed to Indiana earlier this week.

The Bobcats (10-2) forced five turnovers, four off Eagles quarterback Davis Brin, to win 10 games in consecutive years for the first time in program history.

Navarro made his first career start after four seasons as a backup at UCF and Ohio.

“He played phenomenal,” Hunt said of his quarterback, who passed for 120 yards and ran for 71.

Ohio’s defense made it all stand up. They held Georgia Southern (6-7) to 35 yards in the first half. Brin, who won this game’s MVP in 2021 in leading Tulsa to a 30-17 victory, threw an interception on the game’s fourth play to safety Jeremiah Wood.

Things didn’t get much better after that with a pick by safety Adonis Williams Jr. before losing the ball on a fumble when Brin was sacked from behind by Wood.

“I’m not going to lie, that may have been one of the best defensive games we’ve played in my time here,” said Wood, whose been with Ohio the past five seasons.

Ohio also sacked Brin five times.

Georgia Southern found some offensive rhythm in the second half and cut its deficit to 34-21 after Brin threw scoring passes of 65 yards to receiver Derwin Burgess Jr. and 15 yards to tight end Jjay Mcafee. But the Eagles could get no closer.

Brin finished 32 of 42 for 350 yards to break the record he set with Tulsa (294) here two years ago.

Georgia Southern receiver Khaleb Hood had seven catches for 101 this season, the fifth time in Sun Belt Conference history a player has reached the century mark.

“I feel like we needed to play better early in this football game,” Eagles coach Clay Helton said. “You look at the turnovers early, that really got us behind the eight ball.”


Georgia Southern: The Eagles have put up identical 6-7 seasons in Helton’s first two years. They’ll need to cut down on the mistakes that caused them to finish with five straight losses after starting 6-2.

Ohio: Hunt and Navarro gave Ohio’s offense an intriguing taste of what next year could bring. The expanded College Football Playoff means more opportunity for Group of Five teams with double-digit wins.


Ohio coach Tim Albin was worried with so many offensive starters not playing in this one, he would have to go with a more balanced game plan to compete with Georgia Southern. He thought Hunt at running back and Navarro at quarterback executed it perfectly. “It’s a testament to a damn, good plan,” he said.


Georgia Southern opens the 2024 season at home against Boise State on Aug. 31.

Ohio starts next season at Syracuse on Aug. 31.

Georgia Southern 0 0 14 7 21
Ohio 3 17 14 7 41

First Quarter

OHIO–FG Spetic 27, 6:27.

Second Quarter

OHIO–Hunt 2 run (Spetic kick), 12:22.

OHIO–Hunt 18 pass from Navarro (Spetic kick), 3:16.

OHIO–FG Spetic 26, :00.

Third Quarter

OHIO–Hunt 6 run (Spetic kick), 11:46.

GASO–Mbadinga 3 run (Lantz kick), 7:54.

OHIO_Hunt 40 run (Spetic kick), 2:04.

GASO–Burgess 65 pass from Brin (Lantz kick), 1:13.

Fourth Quarter

GASO–Mcafee 15 pass from Brin (Lantz kick), 12:27.

OHIO–Hunt 9 run (Spetic kick), 2:52.



First downs 16 18
Total Net Yards 383 352
Rushes-yards 21-33 46-232
Passing 350 120
Punt Returns 0-0 0-0
Kickoff Returns 5-96 1-15
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 3-40
Comp-Att-Int 32-42-3 11-16-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 5-34 0-0
Punts 2-36.5 3-38.333
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 6-70 6-60
Time of Possession 26:38 33:18



RUSHING–Georgia Southern, Mbadinga 4-44, Cobb 2-8, Arnold 5-6, White 1-(minus 2), Brin 9-(minus 23). Ohio, Hunt 17-115, Navarro 15-71, McCormick 11-40, Kacmarek 1-5, Wiglusz 1-1, (Team) 1-0.

PASSING–Georgia Southern, Brin 32-42-3-350. Ohio, Navarro 11-16-0-120.

RECEIVING–Georgia Southern, Cobb 7-109, Hood 7-31, Burgess 6-117, Mcafee 5-62, Mbadinga 4-20, Arnold 2-7, White 1-4. Ohio, Wiglusz 5-64, Hendricks 3-25, Hunt 1-18, Foster 1-9, R.Harris 1-4.