The Bowling Green State University football team scored the first 28 points on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 5th) and cruised to a 28-7 victory over the University of Massachusetts at Doyt L. Perry Stadium in Bowling Green, Ohio. The win completed a perfect stretch of three consecutive home games for the Falcons and improved the team's conference record to 3-0.
The game started very slowly on offense for both teams. Each of the first ten possessions ended in punts, and neither team converted a third down attempt in any of those drives. After the first quarter, the teams combined for just 115 yards and six first downs on a total of 35 plays.
Finally, on Bowling Green's sixth drive of the game, the offense started to generate some momentum. Matt Johnson completed a third-down pass to Shaun Joplin for 13 yards and a first down on the third play of the series. Three plays later, the Falcons faced another third down, and again, Johnson converted. This time, the pass was to Alex Bayer, who hurdled a Massachusetts player and ran 20 yards down the right sideline to the BGSU 49 yard line.
On the next play, Johnson executed a brilliant fake that resulted in the game's first score. He looked left after the snap and faked a screen to Ronnie Moore, then turned to the right and faked an end-around run by Jordan Hopgood. He turned back to the left and saw Moore wide open for the screen. Moore caught the ball and weaved his way for a 51-yard touchdown.
The Minutemen went three-and-out again on their next possession, and the Falcons took over after the punt at their own 30. Travis Greene took over on this drive, as he ran six times for 56 yards. BGSU eventually moved the ball to the Massachusetts' 1, and William Houston came in for his specialty, the one-yard touchdown run. Houston's rumble into the end zone was his seventh score of the season; six of those have been one-yard runs. The other was a two-yard run.
After halftime, Bowling Green forced a punt on Massachusetts' opening drive and began their first possession of the half at their own 44. Three Greene runs earned 21 yards, and Johnson then finished off the scoring drive with two passes. First, he completed a dart to Joplin for 12 yards, then he passed to Tyler Beck down the right sideline. Beck raced untouched into the end zone for his second career touchdown and a 21-0 lead.
The Minutemen had to punt again, for the eighth time in eight drives, after the Falcon touchdown. This time, Colter Johnson's punt went just 18 yards and sailed out-of-bounds at the BGSU 45. Five plays later, the Falcons were in the end zone again.
Greene and Heath Jackson were the stars of this drive. After Jackson caught a Johnson 13-yard pass to start the series, Greene carried three straight times for 21 yards. Massachusetts was also called for a face mask penalty after the second one. From the nine yard line, Johnson led a perfect play-action fake and found Jackson all alone in the end zone. The nine-yard touchdown connection gave BGSU a 28-0 lead.
The score was also gave BGSU touchdowns in four consecutive possessions for the third straight game. They also accomplished this feat against Murray State and Akron.
Mike Wegzyn replaced A.J. Doyle at quarterback after the final BGSU score. He led Massachusetts on two long drives. The first ended in the end zone with Bowling Green's first interception of the season, courtesy of Ryland Ward. (Two plays earlier, a Justin Ford holding penalty negated another interception.) The second drive ended with the only Minutemen points of the game, as Wegzyn connected with Tajae Sharpe for a 24-yard touchdown pass.
Matt Schilz came in and led BGSU on a drive that took the final 4:34 off the game clock. The march included a short pass over the middle to Moore, who ran until he had a 43-yard reception.
Bowling Green finished the game with 448 yards on 65 plays and held Massachusetts to 280 yards on 57 plays. Much of the Minutemen yardage came on those final two drives, including 88 yards in the final period. BGSU ran the ball 43 times for 232 yards and passed for another 216. The Minutemen accumulated 184 rushing yards on 32 carries but were held to just 96 yards through the air.
The Falcons held the ball for 32:23 compared to 27:37 for Massachusetts and converted five of 12 third-down attempts as opposed to four of 13 by the Minutemen. BGSU also had the advantage in penalties, as they committed just two, while Massachusetts had eight.
Johnson ended the game with 11 completions in 20 attempts. He also had three touchdowns and 166 yards. Schilz was 2-for-2 in his short stint of playing time. Greene led all rushers with 22 carries and a career-high 160 yards. Andre Givens posted 60 yards, including a 47-yard run right up the middle. Jackson led Falcon receivers with four catches for 33 yards and a touchdown. Moore's three catches netted 91 yards and a score, and Joplin had 25 yards on two receptions. Defensively, the team was led by Justin Ford and Gabe Martin in tackles, with seven and six, respectively. Brian Schmiedebusch had a 42.2 yard average on five punts; of those, two went inside the 20 yard line.
Doyle was just 4-for-17 in two quarters plus two third-quarter possessions. Those four completions managed only 20 yards and none was longer than seven. Wegzyn completed seven of eight passes for 76 yards in mop-up duty. His only "incompletion" was Ward's interception. Jamal Wilson led Massachusetts runners with 119 yards on 20 carries. Nearly half of that came on one 51-yard run in the second quarter. Tajae Sharpe led their receivers with three catches, 38 yards and a touchdown.
With the loss, Massachusetts falls to 0-5 overall and 0-1 in Mid-American Conference play. They are at home for four of their next five games, and that stretch begins next Saturday against Miami at 3:00 p.m. ET.
Bowling Green's victory gives the Falcons a 5-1 record and improves their mark in the MAC to 3-0. The team plays their final non-conference game of the regular season next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET against Mississippi State. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Net channels and will also be available on ESPN3.
After a bye week following the trip to Mississippi, BGSU resumes MAC play on Oct. 26th at home against arch-rival Toledo.
* BGSU shut out UMass for more than seven consecutive quarters until the Minutemen scored with 4:34 to play in the fourth quarter.
* BGSU has allowed 35 points in its first four home games, the fewest for the program since allowing 31 in 1993.
* BGSU has scored on 24-of-26 red zone trips in wins this year. Both unsuccessful attempts were due to kneel downs at the end of wins over Akron and UMass.
* Matt Johnson was 2-for-7 passing in first quarter. He finished 9-of-13 over the final three quarters.
* Ryland Ward's fourth quarter interception was Bowling Green's first of the year and the first since a Jude Adjei-Barimah interception against Kent State a year ago. It snapped a streak of 261 consecutive passes by opponents between interceptions.
* Numerous players posted career single-game highs, led by Travis Greene (160 rushing yards), Andre Givens (60 rushing yards), Ronnie Moore (91 receiving yards) and Heath Jackson (33 receiving yards).
* Brian Schmiedebusch had two punts that traveled at least 50 yards, including a season-high 56-yarder that was downed at the 4-yard line.