Three Ohio Bobcat defenders stood frozen in the Perry Stadium end zone during the first quarter when Bowling Green Falcons quarterback Matt Johnson aired the ball out 32 yards to wide out Heath Jackson. The BG wide receiver muscled the ball from the unaware Ohio secondary to put the Falcons up 14-0 on just their third offensive play.
Bowling Green (7-3, 5-1 MAC) went into the locker room at halftime with a 35-0 lead and went on to win 49-0 over the Bobcats (6-4, 3-3 MAC) The loss officially ended Ohio’s slim chance of traveling to Detroit for the MAC Championship Game, and potentially ended a program streak of four straight bowl berths..
“Obviously there’s a combination of things that have put us where we’re at,” head coach Frank Solich said of the sputtering offense. “I’m very, very disappointed in us as coaches and how we responded in terms of fundamental football.”
The Falcons reached the end zone on six of their first seven possessions to open up a 28-0 advantage on the ‘Cats less than three minutes into the second quarter. By the time the Falcons put up seven points for just the second time on Tuesday, Ohio had already looked like a team drowinig in a four-touchdown deficit three minutes into the game.
“They’re just a very physical group, very experienced,” quarterback Tyler Tettleton said. “We liked out game plan going into it, but we just couldn’t execute or make plays.”
Failing to reach the end zone a week prior, the Green & White started the game with the ball and the perfect opportunity to rid the bad taste that Buffalo left in their mouth last Tuesday. Instead, the Bobcats offense came out flat on their first four possessions, leading to four consecutive three-and-outs and six failed third-down conversions in the first half.
Johnson and the Bowling Green offense were on a different and much more accurate page when they took the field for the first time.
The Falcons wasted no time, and Johnson immediately found wide receiver Shaun Joplin for 43 yards on the team’s first play from scrimmage. Running back Travis Greene then juked an Ohio defender, went around the left tackle and found the end zone for BG’s initial score.
“Running backs have been having success against us not because they’re great but because we’re not fitting our gaps right. We’re missing tackles and we’re not getting our jobs done individually,” linebacker Ben Russell said. “And that comes back to haunt us.”
On Ohio’s following drive, the Falcons unleashed a suffocating secondary onslaught that resulted in another set of three unsuccessful plays. On the ensuing kick, Ohio punter Grant Venham slipped on the turf and took off on fourth and long, but fell short at his team’s 32-yard line.
Once again taking advantage of Ohio’s offensive shortcomings, Johnson stood up in the pocket and unleashed the ball to the heavily-covered Jackson for the swift turnover score.
“We needed to make some plays when they were there,” Solich said. “When you don’t do that and you don’t have any momentum, then it becomes not only tough on the offense but also tough on the defense.”
Ohio put themselves in a physical and mental rut because of an unnattentive defensive unit and a stifling BG front seven. This allowed the Falcons to switch to a more conservative attack, thus focusing in on their running game.
Greene paced the Falcons with a 6.8 yards per carry average on Tuesday night, racking up 129 yards and two touchdowns in the first 30 minutes of the contest. Manuevering his way out of the arms of numerous Bobcat tacklers, Greene followed controlling outside blockers, took advantage of poor Ohio tackling and used the misdirection to rack up yards after contact.
“You start from square one,” Solich said when asked about the team’s recent failings. “There’s not much more that you can do other than that.”
The Bobcats went into the second half down 35-0 after two one-yard rushing touchdowns by William Houston. Ohio ended the game surrendering two more BG trips to the end zone. The Falcons seemed like an unstoppable force for the full 60 minutes on Tuesday, putting up video game numbers against the Bobcats in every phase of the game.
“We just have to stay focused, and we still have a shot to go to a bowl game, so I think the guys’ spirits are high and understand that,” Tettleton said. “We’re stil motivated and ready to go.”
Having not reached the end zone since the four-minute mark in the fourth quarter on Oct. 26 against the Miami RedHawks and surrendering 79 points on the road over the past two games, Ohio will return home hoping to stop its slump. The Kent State Golden Flashes come to Peden Stadium on Nov. 19 for an ESPN 2 matchup. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.
- Ohio suffered its worst shutout loss under Solich against Bowling Green; the Solich-led Bobcats were previously shutout by No. 4 Virginia Tech 45-0 on Sept. 17, 2005
- The Falcons almost out gained the ‘Cats, who only compiled 172 yards of total offense in 62 plays, on their first three scoring drives (158 yards) over the course of the entire game
- The Bobcats converted a measly 12.5 percent of their third downs against the BG defense, while the Falcon offense made good on 60 percent of their third-down conversions
- Tettleton has completed 50 percent of his passes for 219 yards, no touchdowns and one interception over the past two road losses
- Safety Xavier Hughes tallied his team-high fourth interception on Tuesday night, while BG’s BooBoo Gates took back a pick 82 yards for the near score
- Ohio rushed for a season-low 56 yards on 1.9 yards per carry