It appears two things may slow Bowling Green's high powered offense, but they cannot stop it.
Buffalo's defense came into the game having put on solid performances in their non-conference slate. Mother nature would chip in with slippery conditions that would slow the Falcons even more, as bobbled snaps and slips on runs were common throughout the game. Nevertheless, Matt Johnson and Company got things done in a 28-22 victory over the Bulls in Buffalo on Saturday.
The Falcons came out red-hot. Despite a couple miscues due to the weather, Johnson was able to march Bowling Green down the field before Donovan Wilson punched in a one-yard score to make it 7-0. However, the Bulls would respond nicely, going down the field in five minutes before stalling out and having to settle for a field goal to make it 7-3. Both teams would struggle to move the ball on their next drive due to the field conditions, with the teams trading punts to end the quarter.
That's when the Falcons kicked it up a notch.
On their next two drives, Johnson would utilize Roger Lewis on some big plays to set up back-to-back scores. First, he hit Lewis on a 61-yard pass to set -up a 10-yard QB keeper touchdown to make it 14-3. Then, after a three-and-out by the Bulls, back-to-back passes of 22 and 12 yards to Lewis, the latter capping off a one minute, 72-yard drive for a touchdown, made it 21-3.
Both teams would have solid drives to follow, but both the Bulls and Falcons failed on fourth down plays in the red zone to give the ball back to their opponents. The Bulls would take Bowling Green's failed attempt and drive down the field again, only to again have to settle for a field goal. Bowling Green would fail on a long field goal attempt to end the half with a 21-6 lead.
The second half saw Buffalo drive down the field, looking to score their first touchdown of the game. All was looking well until Joe Licata was picked off in the end zone by James Sanford to kill another Bull drive in the red zone. After a three-and-out, another drive led by Anthone Taylor runs got the Bulls back to the red zone, but, again, they were forced to settle for a field goal. The Falcons would drive down and score on a Ronnie Moore seven-yard touchdown run to make it 28-9 just as the 4th quarter started, seemingly ending the game.
But Buffalo came alive. They again marched down the field using Taylor as the crutch to their offense, and after 92 yards over 6 minutes, Jordan Johnson scored on 4th and goal from the 1-yard line to make it 28-16. After BG went for it on 4th down in Bull territory on the ensuing drive, Buffalo used just 76 seconds to score again on a Ron Willoughby 5-yard score to make it 28-22 with five minutes to go.
However, the Bulls would never get the ball back, as the Falcons used solid rushing as well as catch-and-runs to Moore to ice the game and hold on for their first MAC win of the year.
For Bowling Green (3-2, 1-0), Matt Johnson finished 23-for-29 with "just" 324 yards and a touchdown pass. He also had the rushing touchdown. Travis Greene and Fred Coppet carried the load on the ground with 17 rushes for 119 yards and 10 rushes for 75 yards respectively. Neither scored. Lewis was held in check in the 2nd half, being held to just 25 yards receiving after exploding in the 1st half. He finished with 10 catches for 201 yards.
For Buffalo (2-3, 0-1), Licata finished 35-for-59 for 348 yards and a score as well as the lone turnover of the game (the interception). Taylor finished with 21 carries for 93 yards, exploding in the 2nd half. Johnson had 45 yards on 11 carries as well as his score. Matt Weiser finished with 8 catches for 90 yards, both team highs. Marcus McGill and Willoughby also had 8 catches, but finished with 88 and 73 yards respectively.
The Falcons now head home to face UMass next weekend in a game between two of the MAC's top quarterbacks. The Bulls have a bye week before heading to Mt. Pleasant to take on the Central Michigan Chippewas.