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2023 MAC Football Week 10 Recap: Bowling Green Falcons 24, Ball State Cardinals 21

After a back-and-forth battle, Bowling Green found a way to win against a gritty Ball State team.

Bowling Green’s Davon Ferguson (#7) recovered a fumble in the 24-21 win over Ball State
Scott W. Grau/BGSU Athletics

The Bowling Green Falcons (5-4, 3-2 MAC East) hosted the Ball State Cardinals (2-7, 1-4 MAC West) to start off each team’s respective midweek MACtion campaigns at Doyt Perry Stadium on Wednesday night.

Here’s a rundown of the game’s major action:

  • After an exchange of punts to start the game, Ball State’s Kiael Kelly dropped the ball, and BGSU’s Ali Saad would fall on top of it, giving the Falcons yet another takeaway on the season. On the ensuing drive, the Falcons would convert on a fourth-down with a Bazelak to Fannin passing touchdown to take a 7-0 lead after the PAT.
  • Ball State would be gifted yardage on a roughing the passer call, then convert a fourth-and-five en route to a Kiael Kelly rushing touchdown. It was a play which capped off a huge 17-play drive lasting over eight minutes tying the game at 7-7.
  • Bowling Green would turn the ball over on downs in Ball State’s territory, but the Cardinals wouldn’t be able to make anything of the drive, as an errant Kiael Kelly swing pass fell behind Marquez Cooper for a fumble. The Falcons would once again fall atop the ball to get their second fumble of the day.
  • Taking advantage of the turnover, Terion Stewart would break tackles, stiff arm a defender, and make a 54-yard house call to put the Falcons up 14-7 after the PAT.
  • Bowling Green managed to get the ball back just before the send of the first half, but Alan Anaya would miss the 50-yard field goal attempt, leaving the halftime score at 14-7 in favor of BGSU.
  • In the third quarter, Ball State’s Marquez Cooper would score a rushing TD and the Cardinals would tie it up 14-14 after the PAT.
  • Camden Orth led a drive to get the Falcons into the red zone taking over parts of the third and fourth quarters, but it would be Connor Bazelak who ended the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Ta’Ron Keith on a wheel route to give BGSU the 21-14 lead after two unsuccessful goal-to-go plays resulting in negative yards.
  • Ball State would immediately respond with a Kiael Kelly rushing touchdown from 44 yards out to the the game at 21 once with 9:07 remaining.
  • After Ta’Ron Keith returned the ensuing kick to the Ball State 43-yard line, Bowling Green would convert on a risky fourth-and-four to move the chains. Bazelak threw a brilliant screen to Keith to get to the two-yard line, but BGSU would eventually have to settle for a 22-yard field goal, which Alan Anaya made despite a bad snap to allow the Falcons to take the lead 24-21.
  • The Falcons got a vital stop late on fourth down to take the ball back and ran as much clock down as they could, but Ball State used all three timeouts and forced a four-and-out to get the ball back with just under two minutes remaining.
  • Ball State had a chance to get points with no timeouts. The Cardinals made it across midfield, but an illegal shift on Ball State made it a little bit difficult. BSU would find their way to the BGSU 45-yard line but no further, settling for a 52-yard attempt. Jackson Courville had the accuracy, but the ball died before getting to the crossbar, allowing the Falcons to win 24-21.
  • Bowling Green moves to 5-4 (3-2 MAC) and are winners of their last three games. Ball State is eliminated from bowl eligibility at 2-7 (1-4 MAC).


Bowling Green

Goal-to-go situations were less than stellar. The Falcons ran a couple jet sweep plays this game. They tried it the first time, didn’t work. They tried it again, didn’t work. Makes you wonder what was going on with the play calling.

Terion Stewart may not have hit 100 yards, but he still got a rushing touchdown. Stewart accumulated 92 rushing yards, putting him at 762 yards for the season. Stewart’s number to get to 1,000 yards is now 238, or an average of 79.33 rush yards per game over the rest of the regular season. Terion Stewart did leave the game due to injury, so the question is whether he can be ready to go for next week. That would be a big loss if he is not available.

While the quarterbacks did not break out, they certainly played better. Connor Bazelak went 13-of-21 for 128 yards and two passing touchdowns. Is that pretty? Maybe not on paper, but he made some clutch throws on tape. Bazelak has now passed the 1,000 passing yard mark on the season. Cam Orth went 2-of-2 for 49 yards and was primarily used to be a running threat decoy. The quarterbacks will need to keep building up again.

The Bowling Green defense felt underwhelming despite the two takeaways (two fumble recoveries) and the late stop. They had no answer for the Ball State rushing attack, and that’s something they need to watch. Dontrez Brown, Davon Ferguson, and Cashius Howell came up with a sack each.

Ball State

Ball State did an incredible job responding to most punches that Bowling Green threw. The Cards were able to hold pace with 217 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on the day. Kiael Kelly had two touchdowns, while Marquez Cooper had the other. They seem to have found something there, although it may be too little too late.

The second-best rush defense in the MAC did a pretty good job overall, holding the Falcons to 104 rushing yards, which is below their average.

Kiael Kelly is a baller. He may not be able to throw the ball right now, but he can at least use his legs until the arm figures itself out. 90 rushing yards with two touchdowns by a quarterback is enough to make any defense nervous.

Play of the Game

The play of the game belongs to Terion Stewart. The run, the stiff arm, and almost trucking the camera guy. Just a brilliant midweek MACtion play. (Credit: MAC Sports/X)

Up Next

Here’s what’s next for each team:

  • Ball State at Northern Illinois, 11/7 @ 7:00 p.m, CBS Sports Network
  • Bowling Green at Kent State, 11/8 @ 7:00 p.m, CBS Sports Network