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Ohio Wins 2023 Myrtle Beach Bowl; True Freshman Breaks Out

Thanks to a massive breakout performance from a true freshman, Ohio shuts down Georgia Southern to win this year's Myrtle Beach Bowl.
Myrtle Beach Bowl

For the second year in a row, the Ohio Bobcats finish with 10 wins thanks to a 41-21 win in the 2023 Myrtle Beach Bowl over Georgia Southern. The transfer portal losses did not matter for the Bobcats in this one. They ended up scoring the second-most points in a single game, only being topped by the 42 against Kent State earlier in the year.

The game kicked off with Ohio getting out to a commanding 20-0 lead at the half. At that point, it had allowed just 35 total yards of offense by the Eagles. Georgia Southern woke up and tried to claw back but for every punch and counter-punch, the Bobcats answered. The Eagles tried to earn an advantage with a surprise on-side kick (which they recovered), but it wasn’t enough.

Rickey Hunt Powers Ohio in the 2023 Myrtle Beach Bowl

Welcome to College Football

The best thing about bowl games is the fact that players can come out of nowhere to lead their team to victory. Without each of the Bobcats’ top two running backs, Rickey Hunt, a true freshman, had his opportunity. He did not disappoint.

Heading into the game, the 18-year-old back had accounted for just 19 yards off of six carries and hauled in just one pass for three yards. In this one? He went for 115 yards off of 17 carries with four touchdowns and turned his lone reception into an 18-yard touchdown. He set the single-game record for touchdowns in Ohio history with his five scores.

Hunt was by far the best offensive weapon for the Bobcats in this one but Parker Navarro also stepped up at quarterback. After four years of biding his time as a backup at UCF and then this year at Ohio, Navarro provided a spark. With both quarterbacks ahead of him unavailable, Navarro accounted for 120 yards and a score off of 11-for-20 passing.

The new quarterback was even more dynamic on the ground as he ran the ball 15 times for 71 yards. He took off for massive gains of 24 yards and 16 yards.

93% of Ohio’s rushing production was out of this game. 97% of Ohio’s passing production was gone. And yet, they were able to go for over 350 total yards for the eighth time this year.

Both Hunt and Navarro stepped up for the Bobcats against a mostly intact defense.

Defense Wins [Bowl] Championships

The most impressive part of this Myrtle Beach Bowl was the fact that Davis Brin, the Tulsa transfer, was able to rebound after a number of mistakes to throw for 350 yards and two touchdowns while completing 32 of 42 passes. Where Ohio won the game was his three interceptions and the additional two fumbles by him and Derwin Burgess, Jr.

Oddly enough, this was the worst defensive performance by Ohio all year. It set new season-highs allowing 383 total yards and 350 passing yards, but the five turnovers forced were the most.

With the fact that the two offenses were nearly step-for-step in terms of yardage, forcing five turnovers won this game.

OU, Oh Yeah

With the win in the Myrtle Beach Bowl, Ohio has won five straight bowls dating back to 2017. This is also the first time in Ohio program history that it finished with 10 wins in back-to-back years. The Bobcats have plenty of momentum heading into 2024 and will need another 10-win performance to compete in the MAC. The conference elected to go without divisions, joining the Big Ten and SEC to make the change in 2024.

The lone conference to have divisions starting next year will be the Sun Belt, home of these Georgia Southern Eagles. With this loss, Georgia Southern will clinch a third-straight losing season. The last time the Eagles finished with three losing seasons in a row (1936-38), they folded the program for 40 years. Clay Helton‘s squad has an uphill battle for 2024 as the conference continues to get better and will have no mercy for a middle-of-the-pack team. While it performed admirably in this one, the 41-21 loss kicks Georgia Southern into the offseason on a very disappointing note.


Myrtle Beach Bowl
Photo courtesy: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports


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