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2023 MAC Football Week 4 Recap: Ohio Bobcats 38, Bowling Green Falcons 7

Bowling Green gets steamrolled on Homecoming weekend in an alarmingly undisciplined effort.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Ohio Matt Lunsford-USA TODAY Sports

On a sun-splashed, windy Saturday afternoon at Doyt. L. Perry stadium, the Ohio Bobcats (4-1, 1-0) jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and never looked back, cruising to a 38-7 win over the Bowling Green Falcons (1-3).

The Falcons gave themselves no shot in this one, turning in an undisciplined, seismically sloppy first three quarters of football which began with a bad-luck interception on its opening drive.

Coming out throwing in light of Ohio’s reputation for run defense, the Falcons went to the skies on their first three plays, flubbing a third-and-four when QB Conner Bazelak’s hand slipped off the ball on a pass attempt. The BGSU QB watched helplessly as the ball fluttered into the air before being alertly corralled by Ohio’s linebacker Keye Thompson for an interception.

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Ohio LB Keye Thompson (38) in action in 2022 versus Penn State
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Starting at the BGSU 29, Ohio’s offense quickly converted their good fortune with a two-play drive ending on a wheel route from QB Kurtis Rourke to RB Sieh Bangura for the 29-yard score. The Falcons brought pressure from the boundary but when it did not get there Bangura was wide open for six.

After forcing a BGSU punt on the next possession, Ohio’s offense put together a crisp six-play, 79-yard play drive keyed by a 42-yard strike from Rourke to WR Jacoby Jones. The drive was capped on a ten-yard pass from Rourke to tight end Will Kacmarek on another bad break for the Falcons. On third down on the ten-yard line, BGSU dropped a lineman in the anticipated throwing lane and the ball was thrown to that spot but it caromed off, then over the head of the Falcon defender to a waiting Kacmarek.

As the game moved from the first to the second quarter, disaster struck twice for the Falcons, both on fumbles returned for touchdowns. The first came at the end of a decent Jaison Patterson run, where the ball was punched up in the air and fell into the hands of the waiting Keye Thompson for a 71-yard recovery score.

The second Bobcat score was a strip of Bowling Green’s RB Ta’ron Keith, recovered by defensive back Roman Parodie for a 28-yard scoop and score.

In the waning minutes of the second quarter, BGSU’s offense squandered another golden opportunity when Ohio’s Jared Wheatley dropped a punt snap and was tackled at his own 20.

BGSU’s ensuing four-play, minus two-yard drive was perhaps the perfect example of a series reflecting its undisciplined, unpoised play on the day. The drive started with back-to-back false start penalties. On the third play, a Falcon holding penalty was the minor infraction on the play also containing two personal fouls by a frustrated BGSU offensive line resulting in an ejection of Bronson Warner. The ensuing fourth down was not converted when an errant snap threw off the timing of a play which was thrown into the flats and stopped short of the line to gain.

The third quarter was more of the same for both sides. Bowling Green looked like it might have a spark to start the third quarter when a fumble by Kurtis Rourke on the opening drive was forced by BGSU’s Cashius Howell and recovered by Evan Branch-Haynes. Bowling Green was unable to move the ball though as penalties and incompletions resulted in a punt on fourth-and-25.

The Bobcats closed out the day for the starters on both sides of the ball with a ten-play, 77-yard third quarter drive capped on a short pass from Rourke to wideout Miles Cross who scampered 19 yards for the score.

By the end of the game, Bowling Green committed 12 penalties for 123 yards, with five personal fouls and three player ejections counted on the ledger.

Compounding the penalties was a BGSU passing game that was not in sync. Even when not under siege by the Ohio defense, there were multiple drops or throws that sailed off the mark.

Despite the offensive struggles, the Falcons were able to get a few things done, as wideout Odieu Hiliare looked good with five grabs for 45 yards. Running back Terion Stewart was notable with a physical effort on 12 carries for 107 yards and a score including a 46-yard scamper against Ohio’s second-team defense.

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Bowling Green’s Terion Stewart (4)
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The penalties and personal fouls could not tarnish the efforts of the BGSU players who exhibited clean, physical play. For instance, Bowling Green’s front seven on defense was notable for their efforts in the second and third quarters, swarming to the ball with great effort and effectiveness against Ohio’s running offense.

Linebacker Joseph Sipp Jr. led the effort with seven tackles while defensive lineman captain Anthony Hawkins III got some real push and played with great effort.

Putting aside the self-inflicted wounds, a big source of BGSU’s offense struggles trace back to Ohio’s front seven who consistently won battles against the Falcons offensive line, be it on individual efforts or stunts and blitzes.

While not as sharp in tackling as in the previous weeks, Ohio’s starters left the field without surrendering a point while collecting four turnovers, three sacks, and multiple quarterback hits.

Offensively, ‘Cats QB Kurtis Rourke was sharp from the opening whistle completing his first ten passes en route to completing 87 percent of his passes for 196 yards and three touchdown passes. Rourke also added 33 yards rushing.

Prior to leaving the day on a second quarter injury, receiver Jacoby Jones was clutch with four catches for 85 yards.

Several ‘Cats had career firsts in Ohio uniforms. Holy Cross transfer safety Walter Reynolds had his first career interception. Freshmen with notable summer camps got their first stats with wideout Chase Hendricks making his first career reception for eight yards while running back Ricky Hunt had his first rush and reception, totaling 19 yards in the fourth quarter.

Ohio gets a well-earned rest on the bye next week after playing on Week 0. Bowling Green heads to Georgia Tech next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern for a contest on the ACC Network.