Coming into Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Falcons defense was expected be stout just like the year before. The Hilltoppers offense was in question after returning Brandon Doughty, a QB who threw the same amount of interceptions as touchdowns in 2013. After one half of football, every Hilltopper fan threw those doubts into the trash, where the BG tackling was hiding.
Doughty is walking away from this one with three school records under his belt. You'll see him on Sports Center tomorrow after throwing for 569 yards and six touchdowns.
Matt Johnson was talked about more than any other player in the MAC coming into the season. He completed 25 of his 36 passes for 314 yards and one score. Gehrig Dieter and Roger Lewis both hauled in 78 yards while Ronnie Moore bolted to the house on a 41-yard screen play.
Missed tackles, penalties, and three and outs. Three ways to describe the performance of the Falcons first showcase of 2014. Dino Babers must've forgotten some of his playbook in Illinois because the offense looked out of sync.
Three out of the first four drives for the Falcons were three and outs. Matty J and company didn't fall into a groove until it was too late. Western Kentucky came out hot and never looked back.
Doughty will let his first half stats do the talking: 27-32 359 yards 3 TDs. Yes that is just one half. The redshirt senior was slinging the ball to option routes near the sideline and letting his receivers do work. The recipients of his 27 completions were shedding tackles left and right. Taywan Taylor led the way with eight catches, raking in 128 yards and a score.
Johnson didn't look like his old self until he led the Falcons offense to a 7-play 70-yard score in 1:42 in the second quarter. The drive was capped off by a 1-yard TD rush by sophomore Fred Coppet.
The highlight of the first half was a screeching fire alarm halting the Hilltoppers drive in the red-zone. It must've been Coach Babers sending out an Amber Alert for his defense. Some fans listened and headed for the exits while the majority stayed and enjoyed flashing lights and a monotone PA announcer. Play resumed and Western Kentucky failed to reach the end zone ultimately, settling for a field goal. WKU Athletics released a statement regarding the fiasco.
"At the end of the second quarter, a smoke alarm on the east side of the stadium was incorrectly activated. The Emergency Operations Center immediately recognized it as a false alarm, and the referees were notified and play continued. When the alarm was activated, all public address and microphone communication inside the stadium was silenced, and all-clear announcement was made as soon as possible."
The Hilltoppers didn't take their foot off the gas pedals in the second half. Even though Matty J and his offense gained momentum after two straight scores cutting the defect to 14, Doughty bounced back. Two drives of 77 yards put Western Kentucky back up 28 points and the Hilltoppers never looked back.
The Falcons defense gave up over 700 yards of offense and eight touchdowns tonight. It took them three games last season to give up those numbers. The offense was blanked early but still managed to score three touchdowns in the second half.
Bowling Green opens up its home schedule next week against VMI.