Fans of the Bowling Green Falcons had been clamoring for a complete game effort all year -- for a game in which they could say BGSU was truly dominant. They finally got that game on Tuesday night in Oxford, Ohio; whether or not it matters that the opponent was winless Miami is up to you. The Falcons scored 38 unanswered points in the second and third quarters to run away with a 45-3 victory.
The game started well enough for Miami. In the first quarter, the RedHawks had two very nice drives that went deep into Bowling Green territory. They ran 22 plays to BGSU's 11, had 10:04 of possession time to the Falcons' 4:56, and accumulated 85 yards of offense.
Unfortunately, those two drives ended with only three total points, and they ended in ways that summed up Miami's season very well. The first drive reached the BGSU 30, but on 3rd-and-6, quarterback Drew Kummer took a terrible sack that lost 14 yards and took Miami out of field goal range. The second possession went even further, to the Falcons' 26. On 3rd-and-1, Kummer took the snap and rolled left, but he dropped the ball and had to fall on it for a seven yard loss. Kaleb Patterson then kicked a 51-yard field goal.
Patterson's field goal was the first allowed by Bowling Green in nine games. Opposing kickers had previously been 0-for-5 against the Falcons.
Despite running plays on BGSU's side of the field on four possessions later in the game, those would turn out to be Miami's only points of the night.
The Falcons made their 11 plays in the first quarter count. Zac Murphy's punt on Miami's first drive resulted in a touchback, so BGSU started at their own 20. After an incomplete pass on first down, Bowling Green earned first downs on five consecutive plays as they moved the ball 68 yards to the Miami 12. Matt Johnson connected with Shaun Joplin in the end zone on a 3rd-and-4 play from the Miami 6 for the game's first touchdown.
Bowling Green also turned their second possession into points Starting from their own 13, they moved the ball 77 yards in nine plays to the Miami 10. The drive stalled there, however, and Tyler Tate kicked a 29-yard field goal for a 10-3 lead.
The game effectively ended shortly thereafter. After a short completion by Austin Gearing on first down, Spencer McInnis took a handoff and ran into the middle for one yard. He was met there by Paul Swan, who knocked the ball loose. The fumble was recovered by Jerry "BooBoo" Gates for BGSU at the Miami 29. The Falcons were in the end zone just four plays later. Johnson passed to Heath Jackson, who made his first career start, for 11 yards. Freshman Fred Coppet then ran up the middle for 12 more to set up a 1st-and-goal situation. On second down, William Houston chugged up the middle for a two-yard touchdown run. It was his eighth rushing score of the season and gave BGSU a 17-3 lead.
The Falcons started their next drive on their own 31 and met very little resistance as they drove 69 yards for another score. Johnson threw his second touchdown pass of the game to cap the series. This one was a dart over the middle to tight end Alex Bayer, and it gave BGSU a 24-3 lead that they carried into halftime.
Miami started the second half on a positive note when Chrishawn Dupuy intercepted Matt Johnson at the BGSU 49 on the fourth play of the half. Unfortunately, that quickly evaporated. The RedHawks reached the Bowling Green 34, but Ted Ouellet sacked David Frazier and forced another fumble. Bryan Thomas got the recovery for the Falcons at their own 39.
At this point, the game started to snowball out of control. The offense used a mix of Travis Greene runs and Johnson passes to move the ball 60 yards to the Miami 1. The Falcons did not face a single third down in getting to that point. Miami did force a 3rd-and-goal, but Johnson took the ball up the middle on a quarterback keeper for a one-yard touchdown run.
The RedHawks committed a personal foul on the ensuing kickoff and had to start on their own 16. On the first play, Gearing threw a screen pass to the left which was caught by Dawan Scott. Scott was immediately hit by Justin Ford and fumbled the ball. Gates picked up the loose ball and scampered into the end zone for another BGSU touchdown. The two scores in 15 seconds gave the Falcons a 38-3 lead.
BGSU got the ball back very quickly after a Miami three-and-out, and they wasted no time in ending the scoring for the day. Johnson completed four passes on the five-play drive, including a 16-yard throw to Joplin and one to Herve Coby for 17 yards. His final completion went to fullback Chris Pohlman, who made an acrobatic catch and then ran into the end zone for his first career touchdown. The 38-yard play gave BGSU their final 45-3 margin.
Bowling Green scored 17 points in the second quarter and 21 more in the third while allowing none. They've now outscored opponents 189-63 in those two quarters this season.
In the fourth quarter, Miami had one more scoring threat. They went on a 71-yard drive that reached inside the BGSU 25, but two Kummer incompletions resulted in a turnover on downs.
The Falcons outgained the RedHawks 447-228 for the game and had 30 first downs. They held a 189-97 edge in rushing yards and 258-131 in passing. BGSU punted only twice and had just three penalties and one turnover, while Miami had five punts, five penalties and three turnovers (all fumbles). Bowling Green was also 5-for-9 on third down (and 1-for-1 on fourth) compared to 5-for-13 (and 0-for-2) for Miami.
For BGSU, Johnson was 20-for-26 with 252 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The yardage total put him over 2,000 yards for the season, and he now has a 12:4 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions. Travis Greene rushed 14 times for 112 yards. Greene has now surpassed the 1,000-yard barrier. He is the first BGSU player since P.J. Pope in 2004 and 11th overall to achieve this feat. His season total of 1,018 is just 426 shy of the school record; in fact, no one has had even 1,100 yards at BGSU in 38 years.
Nine different players caught passes for the Falcons. Three were tied with four receptions. Ryan Burbrink led those with 51 yards, while Joplin had 47 and Jackson had 40. Joplin, Bayer and Pohlman all caught Johnson touchdown passes. Ronnie Moore had 93 all-purpose yards, including a 49-yard punt return late in the game. D.J. Lynch led all defenders with eight tackles. Six different players had tackles for loss, and four of those were sacks.
For Miami, Austin Gearing was 6-for-6 passing with 31 yards. He also had 30 yards rushing. Drew Kummer had 100 passing yards but was just 9-for-19. Kummer also lost a total of 17 yards on eight runs. Grant Niemiec led Miami runners with 40 yards on five carries, and Spencer Treadwell added 33 yards. Alvonta Jenkins had three catches for 52 yards, including a spectacular grab that ended up being #6 on ESPN SportsCenter's list of Top 10 plays. Kent Kern and Chris Wade led RedHawk defenders with eight tackles, while Bryson Albright contributed three sacks.
Miami falls to 0-9 on the season with this loss and now owns an 0-5 record in the MAC. Perhaps their best chance to earn a victory in their final three games comes next Wednesday (Nov. 13) when they travel to Kent State (2-8). They finish the regular season with a home game versus Buffalo on Tuesday, Nov. 19 and a game at Ball State on Friday, Nov. 29.
Bowling Green's victory improves their record to 6-3 overall and 4-1 in the MAC. As they now have six wins, the Falcons become the sixth MAC team to earn bowl eligibility. More importantly, the Falcons remain one game behind Buffalo (7-2; 5-0) in the MAC East. Bowling Green plays their final home game of the season next Tuesday (Nov. 12) against the Ohio Bobcats. Then, on Saturday, Nov. 23, the Falcons travel to play Eastern Michigan. BGSU closes the regular season on Friday, Nov. 29 against Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium (home of the NFL's Buffalo BIlls). The game will likely be a winner-take-all game for the MAC Eastern Division title and a spot in the MAC Championship Game.
The 42-point victory margin is the largest of Bowling Green's 23 wins in the 70-game history of this series. Their previous high was a 31-point win (41-10) in 1984. BGSU head coach Dave Clawson is now 4-1 versus Miami. The Falcons have outscored the RedHawks 175-76 in that span (average: 35-15); in each of the wins, BGSU has scored at least 35 points and won by at least 14. Their streak of four wins in five games in this series is their first such streak since 1991-1997, when they won six of seven games against Miami.