On a chamber of commerce late summer night, the Bowling Green Falcons played host to the Morgan State Bears, out of the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision from Doyt Perry Stadium.
It was a matchup which would pit to former teammates from the University of Michigan against one another in their head coach debuts.
In a game which was occasionally sloppy and chippy. The Falcons dominated from start to finish, outgaining the Bears 620 to 70 in total yards.
On heroes night, Bowling Green waited to announce their starting quarterback but if week one is any indication, they may not need to change again. With an 11th hour announcement that Matt McDonald would not play, while waiting for NCAA clearance, Darius Wade got the start.
In front of an impressively packed student section, the former Boston College starter played until the fourth quarter, earning player of the game honors following a three touchdown performance. Wade was able to elude the Bears rush and create with his legs, showing every bit the poise expected from a 6th year senior transfer. Wade finished 22 of 32 passing and was sacked just once. He had 45 yards on four carries rushing, including a long of 18 which came on a third down.
The Falcons came out running tempo, marching right down the field with a 12 play, 76 yard drive which was capped by an Andrew Clair touchdown run from three yards out.
The Falcons pace was in stark contrast to that of Morgan State’s, who seemed to be trying to make 1990’s Lloyd Carr proud with their play calling early.
After an awful 2018, the Falcons defense put on a show Thursday night, holding the Bears to just 70 total yards. The Falcons would produce three sacks and limit Sophomore QB DJ Golatt Jr. to just 3 of 9 passing for 24 yards. Those three completions would be the Bears only completions, as they would pass for just 24 yards on the night.
Starting tailback Josh Chase had 21 yards on nine carries but only a long of six yards. Golatt ended with 23 yards rushing. Reserve true freshman Lavelton Williams provided a spark in his collegiate debut with 41 yards on 12 carries in the second half.
Late in the first, after a brief field position battle, BGSU capped off a short five play drive with a two yard dime from Wade to Quintin Morris.
It wouldn’t take long for the Falcons to get the ball back early in the second quarter, settling for a Nate Needham field goal after a seven play drive stalled out.
In perhaps the play of the game, the Bears brought a blitz against Wade, who would step up in the pocket to find Quintin Morris wide open for a 27 yard touchdown to put the Falcons up 23.
On the ensuing drive, Morgan State QB DJ Golatt would fumble under pressure and it would allow for a short field for BG. It would take just three plays to go the 24 yards as Davon Jones powered in from one yard out.
Morgan State would find hope. Quarterback DJ Golatt would miss wide receiver Manasseh Bailey but Bailey was interfered with for a 15 yard penalty. The Bears would gain just five yards following the penalty but they were already in field goal range as kicker Nicholas O’Shea put the Bears on the board with a 27 yard field goal.
O’Shea would have a busy day…but not as the kicker. He would punt nine times for 35 yards. He had two inside the twenty, two of over 50 yards, and some glorious hair. If not for some of their defenders racking up tackles, he may have been MSU’s player of the game.
Following the MSU field goal, Bowling Green would march down the field in the last 1:17 before the half. Highlighted by a Wade 18 yard run, BG would call time out on the three yard line with just two seconds in the half. A botched snap would result in kicker Nate Needham throwing an interception as the time expired.
The Falcons took a 30-3 lead into the half.
It would take until 2:07 in the third before we had our next score. Darius Wade capped off a 13 play, 85 yard drive with a seven yard passing touchdown to fellow BC transfer Davon Jones to push it to 37-3. It was Jones second TD on the day and Wade’s 3rd.
Bowling Green would go to the bullpen in the fourth, pulling their starters. Grant Loy, who competed to start under center, would lead a nine play 80 yard drive by finding reserve tight end Christian Sims for 18 yards to go up 44-3.
The last score of the day was insult added to injury as reserve QB Doc Bonner threw the ball away from his own end zone to prevent being sacked. The officials deemed it to be intentional grounding and with the grounding occurring in the end zone, it equaled a two point safety which was awarded to freshman Andrew Bench, from nearby Genoa.
The 46-3 score would be your final.
BGSU rode their running game, as their version of thunder and lightning ran over the Bears D. 2018 third team all MAC selection Andrew Clair ran for 87 on 14 carries with one touchdown, despite not playing in the fourth quarter. Davon Jones had 76 yards and a TD on a team high 16 carries. Bryson Denley looked the part of a third solid Falcon back, running for 49 yards on nine carries. Backup QB Grant Loy ran for 60 yards on his own in his 4th quarter mop up duty. Jones and Clair each added touchdowns on the day.
Wade showed solid chemistry with tight end/big receiver hybrid Quintin Morris, hooking up for two touchdowns on five receptions for 65 yards including a 27 yard strike where Wade read the Bears blitz on third down to hit a wide open Morris. Julian Ortega-Jones had five receptions for 69 nice yards. Indiana transfer Austin Dorris started and had two catches before leaving with injury.
Brandon Perce and Jerry Roberts paced the Falcons D with seven tackles.
Nate Needham missed an extra point and a 51 yard field goal. Matt Naranjo would need to punt only once but that one punt was a 28 yard point downed at the Morgan State half yard line.
Morgan State was without star defensive back Dante Smalls, who did not make the trip. Potential FCS all-americans Ian McBorrough and Rico Kennedy didn’t disappoint from their linebacker positions as McBorrough had 15 total tackles and Kennedy with 14 tackles.
Was Thursday’s impressive performance due to an improved Falcons team or was it more the result of playing a FCS school who struggled last season? The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
With that being said, there was an enthuisam at Doyt Perry not seen in awhile. The strong student support was impressive. Having an offense which couldn’t be stopped, and a defense that nearly pitched a shutout are positive signs.
The Falcons will now go on the road week with a matchup at power five Kansas State of the Big 12.