Another Saturday ends in the same old song and dance for the UMass Minutemen. No production by their offense equals trouble for their defense and a loss for the team. In 20 quarters of football in 2013, Massachusetts has 35 points on five touchdowns. That number falls to just 21 points (three touchdowns) in 16 quarters against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams.
No defense, no matter how good, can survive against those odds. And that was evident once again on Saturday afternoon at Doyt Perry Stadium in Bowling Green.
For the Bowling Green Falcons, it was another workmanlike effort not much different from others they have produced at home this year. Yet again, they were slow out of the gate on offense, but once that offense got on a roll, it was impossible to stop. BGSU's win over UMass was their third win in three straight home games. In each game, the Falcons scored touchdowns on at least four consecutive possessions. And yet again, Bowling Green put an opponent away in the third quarter.
On Saturday, the Falcons' final two scores came in the third quarter, and in six games, they have outscored opponents 59-14 in that all important 15-minute frame. UMass is the exact opposite -- in five games, the Minutemen have now been outscored 56-0 in the third quarter. If you include the second quarter, when the Falcons scored their other two touchdowns, BGSU has a 124-42 season edge on opponents, while UMass is getting hammered by a 108-7 count.
As has been the case in Bowling Green games of late, the first quarter was much different. Massachusetts actually played even better on defense in that frame than Akron had the week prior against BGSU. The Minutemen held the Falcons to punts on each of their first five possessions, as well as just four first downs and 68 yards in the first quarter. The only problem for head coach Charley Molnar was that UMass was even worse. They also had to punt on their first five drives and were held to two first downs and 47 yards in the first quarter.
After forcing a punt following a 51-yard run by Jamal Wilson, Bowling Green finally started to pull the rug out from under UMass. Matt Johnson converted two third-down plays with passes to Shaun Joplin and Alex Bayer. Then, from his own 49, Johnson pulled off one of the more amazing double-fakes you'll ever see. First, he looked left and pump-faked to Ronnie Moore. Then, he turned immediately to the right and faked an end-around handoff to Jordan Hopgood. That fake was so good that the television announcers first thought that Johnson had given the ball to Hopgood. Instead, Johnson then turned back to the left and threw a screen pass to Moore, who broke one tackle and then weaved his way for a 51-yard touchdown.
After BGSU took the lead, UMass continued to punt and the Falcons continued to score. Bowling Green had one more possession between their first score and halftime. Travis Greene dominated it with 56 yards on six carries, but at the goal line, he gave way to William Houston. Houston scored his seventh rushing touchdown of the season on a one-yard run. Six of those seven scores are one-yard runs, while the other is a two-yard run.
The Falcons scored twice more, on their first two possessions of the second half. Each drive was five plays, with 46 and 45 yards needed for touchdowns on the two marches. The first ended with a 23 yard catch and run down the right sideline by Tyler Beck. On the second, Johnson ended the drive with another beautiful play-action fake. He found Heath Jackson all alone in the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown pass and a 28-0 BGSU lead. The touchdowns were the second of Beck's career and the first of Jackson's.
After Bowling Green's final touchdown, Mike Wegzyn replaced A.J. Doyle at quarterback for UMass. He was able to lead the Minutemen on their best two drives of the game and to their only score. His first drive ended with Bowling Green's first interception of the year, when Justin Ford picked the ball off in the end zone. Tajae Sharpe finished the second Wegzyn possession with a 24-yard touchdown reception, which provided the game's final 28-7 margin.
Bowling Green outgained UMass 448-280, but of those yards by UMass, nearly half (133) came after Wegzyn came into the game when BGSU had a 28-0 lead. The Falcons split their yards almost evenly, as 232 came on 43 rushing attempts and 216 occurred on 22 passes. The Minutemen had a very good day on the ground, with 184 yards rushing, but the Doyle/Wegzyn combo managed just 96 yards through the air.
The Falcons also had a 21-15 edge in first downs and a 32:23-27:37 lead in time of possession. The latter was closer than BGSU is accustomed to, but the Minutemen held the ball for 12:28 of the game's final 20:10 while Wegzyn was in the game. Prior to that, the Falcons had won the possession time battle 24:41-15:09. On third downs, BGSU converted five of 12 chances compared to four of 13 for UMass. Bowling Green did not allow a red zone attempt on defense; on offense, they were 2-for-3 and are now 24-for-26 in victories this season. Their only two misses in the red zone came when the intentionally ran out the clock to end games.
Johnson completed only 11 of 20 passes but did throw for 166 yards. He also had three touchdowns and did not turn the ball over. In six games, BGSU has just four total giveaways. Johnson's season totals jump to 1,395 yards passing and a 9-to-3 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions. Matt Schilz came in for the final drive and completed two passes.
The 13 completions were caught by seven different receivers. Heath Jackson led all Falcons with four catches, which went for 33 yards and a touchdown. Those are the first catches for Jackson in 2013. Moore had three catches and 91 yards, and his two touchdowns this season are tied for the team lead. His 51-yard catch today was also a season-best.
Travis Greene carried the rock 22 times for 160 yards and now has 711 yards in six games. He also owns a 5.9 per-carry average and a 118.5 per-game average. Andre Givens had four carries for 60 yards, including a 47-yard run. His season totals are now 24 rushes for 167 yards. His 47-yard run on Saturday was the longest of the year for any Falcon runner.
For UMass, Doyle attempted 17 passes but found a way to complete only four of them. None netted more than seven yards and the four completions in total earned just 20 yards. Wegzyn, in two drives, completed seven of eight passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. His one "incompletion" was the interception by Justin Ford. Tajae Sharpe caught three of the 11 total completions and earned 38 yards and a touchdown. He now has 31 receptions, 279 yards and three touchdowns for the season -- by far, the team leader in all three categories. Rob Blanchflower had three catches but those went for just 16 yards, while Derek Beck had 20 yards on two receptions. Beck is second on the team this season with 13 catches and 92 yards. Blanchflower now has 10 receptions and 58 yards in two games since returning from injury.
Jamal Wilson parlayed his 51-yard run in the second quarter into a 119-yard day on the back of 20 carries. Wegzyn (40) and Doyle (23) contributed 63 yards rushing from the quarterback position. Wilson now has 133 yards and 28 carries this season, and that ranks second behind team leader Stacey Bedell.
UMass falls to 0-5 with the loss and is now 0-1 in Mid-American Conference play. However, the play four of their next five games at home, with bookend games against Miami and Akron. If they're going to win a game, it's going to be in the next few weeks. The Miami game is next Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ET on ESPN3.
Bowling Green improves to 3-0 in the MAC and 5-1 overall after their victory. They travel to Starkville, Miss. next Saturday for their final regular season non-conference game, then get a week off before they host arch-rival Toledo on Oct. 26th. The game against Mississippi State will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET and can be seen on Fox Sports Net channels and online at ESPN3.