After the much anticipated offensive fireworks, it all came down to which defense would get the stop in the fourth quarter. The Memphis Tigers got it with ten minutes left and then took the lead, 44-41 and they would never relinquish it the rest of the way. The game featured over 1,100 yards of total offense as the Memphis Tigers remained perfect on the season at 3-0 and the Bowling Green Falcons fell to 1-2.
Tiger quarterback Paxton Lynch threw for 386 yards and three touchdowns and that wasn't even good enough for the second best stat line of the game, not that he cared. The Falcon's Matt Johnson continued his assault on the record books with 443 yards passing and four touchdown passes and one on the ground. His favorite target was Roger Lewis, who finished with 261 yards on seven catches and three touchdowns.
"If you would have told me that we would have the ball in the fourth quarter with three minutes to go and a chance to win the game, I would take that every time," said Falcon head coach Dino Baber. "But I am proud of our guys because Memphis is a very good football team."
The Tigers pulled some trick plays out of their playbook that helped them in this one. They were successful on a fake punt from their own 30-yard line on a drive that produced a field goal. They also threw a 48-yard touchdown pass on a flea flicker in the fourth quarter that tied the game at 41-41. "When a team converts a fake punt and two trick plays, they usually blow the other team out," said Babers. "But we still had a chance to win late after all that."
The Falcons got the ball first in this game and Johnson and Lewis picked up right where they left off in Maryland last week. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Johnson hit Lewis in stride with a 62-yard touchdown strike and it was 7-0 Falcons with just 1:16 gone.
The Tigers would answer right back with a 17-yard touchdown carry from Doroland Dorceus to tie the score. Bowling Green would then get a touchdown on a two-yard dive by Donovan Wilson to retake the lead 14-7. The Tigers would score the next 10 points to take a 17-14 lead late in the second quarter.
Dangerous as ever on offense, the Falcons would score two touchdowns in the half's last four minutes. Johnson ran one in from 23 yards out and then hit Teo Redding with another 9-yard touchdown pass with just three second left in the half to give the Falcons the lead, 27-17. The Falcons were penalized for un-sportsman like conduct which lead to Tyler Tate missing a 40-yard extra point as the half ended.
The Tigers converted that fake punt from their own 30-yard line on their opening possession of the second half and settled for a 52-yard field goal from Jake Elliot, and it was 27-20. The Falcons offense drove down to the Tiger 20-yard line but then Tate missed a 48-yard field goal into the wind. The Tigers came right back with a long drive to tie the score at 27-27 on a Sam Craft three-yard run.
A terrible decision by BG to bring the ball out on the ensuing kick-off, left the Falcons starting their next drive at their own 4-yard line. So all Johnson did was hook up with Lewis again for a 94-yard touchdown, the second longest in school history. Of course the Tigers answered right back with a 60-yard screen pass that tied the score back up at 34-34.
Johnson to Lewis would connect again from 62-yards out to give the Falcons the lead once more, 41-34 early in the fourth. But the Tigers answered right back on the previously mention flea flicker from 48 yards out that tied the score at 41-41.
The Tigers would get a 29-yard field goal from Elliott with 7:35 to play that would prove to be the margin of victory. Because, then the Falcon offense would suddenly come up empty on their final two drives of the game.
Memphis would finish with 541 yards of total offense and the Falcons had 579. But having the better numbers in this one was of little consolation to the Falcon quarterback. "The numbers are cool and nice to look at but I would rather have thrown for 50 yards and won the game," said Johnson.
NFL scouts from the Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, and Detroit Lions were all on hand to watch this one. I am not sure who they were there to see but they got there money's worth watching players on both of these offenses.
The Falcons will travel to West Layette, Indiana next Saturday to take on the Purdue Boilermakers.