For the 3rd straight year, Bowling Green fans can make travel plans for Detroit.
After downing a solid Western Michigan team on the road by a score of 41-27, the Falcons clinched their 3rd straight East Division title and will face whoever comes out of a now jumbled West race. It wasn't pretty, but Dino Babers was able to get his team to outperform P.J. Fleck's crew on WMU's Senior Night.
The game started with a bang, with both teams going blow for blow. Matt Johnson led his team to a quick score just 1:47 into the game, hitting a wide-open Roger Lewis on a 35-yard score after the stellar wide-out was guarded by linebacker Caleb Bailey. Western Michigan would respond with a solid drive, using a couple quick strikes to Corey Davis. However, they would stall out and settle for a 48-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
The Falcons struck back quickly again, using just over two minutes for another score. This time, Travis Greene got free for a 24-yard touchdown after pacing Bowling Green early on. In the first quarter alone, Greene finished with 61 yards on just 6 carries, and was unstoppable for the most part.
But the Broncos would answer.
Jamauri Bogan, Western's new MAC Freshman of the Year candidate (they've won the award the past three seasons), found plenty of holes in the Falcons' defense and was able to punch in a score from three yards out to make it 14-10. After a three-and-out, Bogan again found paydirt, rolling over a BG player en route to a go-ahead score early in the 2nd quarter.
However, that would be the only lead the Broncos would hold in the game.
After both teams traded three-and-outs, Johnson found Teo Redding for a 42-yard touchdown strike to give the Falcons the lead back. After a holding call brought back another Bronco drive, Johnson and company got the ball back, and used just 62 seconds to hit a killer score as Lewis burned Darius Phillips for a 31-yard touchdown catch.
On the ensuing drive, Terrell found Davis wide-open for an apparent score, but Davis dropped the ball on the would-be touchdown strike. WMU would punt, but would get the ball right back as Phillips jumped a bubble screen and took the resulting interception all the way down into the red zone (with the help of a facemask penalty). A field goal would make it 27-20 at the half.
Terrell would come out of the half looking red-hot. He led a scoring drive that was capped off by a 10-yard QB scamper into the end zone to tie the game up four minutes into the 3rd, but that would be the best he'd look the rest of the game. Bowling Green would score on a Green 26-yard run (where he went untouched) to give the Falcons the lead back, and after a WMU three-and-out, would cap off another touchdown drive with a 5-yard score.
From there, Terrell had fits trying to figure out the Falcon defense. Under pressure, he was unable to make some key plays on third down and in the red zone, getting stuffed again and again as the Broncos were unable to find a closing score. With 9:17 to go, WMU got the ball and drove down the field, but could not score from 4 yards out, with Terrell missing two key throws before taking a 4th down sack to end the drive.
Terrell, who had fumbled on a mishandled zone read play, would throw an interception on the next drive to all but end the game.
Johnson finished the game with a season-low of 269 yards on 23-for-41 passing. He threw three touchdown passes to just one interception, and took three sacks. Greene had a season-high 170 yards rushing and three scores as well, to pace an incredible performance for the Falcons on the ground. Fred Coppet added 64 yards on 6 carries. Gehrig Dieter led BG receivers with 9 catches for 84 yards. Lewis had 5 catches for 86 yards and a pair of scores.
For the Broncos, Terrell was having a solid game until mid-way through the 3rd quarter. He finished with 282 yards passing on a 24-for-40 mark, but was sacked 5 times and threw the interception late to blemish his record more. Davis was his top target, with 13 catches for 159 yards. Daniel Braverman finished with 5 catches for 64 yards, but most of those came on a 44-yard catch midway through the 4th (on the drive that stalled at the BG 4). Bogan led WMU with 118 rushing yards on 22 carries and two scores. LeVante Bellamy had 69 yards on 11 carries.
For Bowling Green (8-2, 6-0), they now face arch-rival Toledo at home as the look to beat the Rockets for the first time in the last six years. For Western Michigan (6-4, 5-1), they begin the tough road to Detroit with a road game at NIU, a team they haven't beaten since 2008.