Facing the No. 1 ranked offense in the Mid-American Conference, the Ohio Bobcats had quite the challenge in trying to stop Bowling Green’s fast-pace. With a number of key injuries on the defensive side, it made that task even more daunting.
Forced to go blow-to-blow on offense with the Falcons, the Bobcats were unable to match Bowling Green’s uptempo scoring attack, losing 62-24 on the road.
“You have to score points against these guys,” said Ohio coach Frank Solich. “Because they’re gonna put points on the board.”
In order to keep up with Bowling Green’s offense, Ohio needed to capitalize on every opportunity they had to score. Any points left on the board for the Bobcats would prove fatal in their chance to win. It didn’t take long for the Bobcats to get that opportunity, as they forced the Falcons to punt after just four plays on the first possession of the game.
Slowly but surely, the Bobcats worked their way inside Bowling Green territory. Facing a fourth down and inches at the Bowling Green 31-yard line, the Bobcats had a chance to get momentum on their side early.
However, running back Daz Patterson was stopped at the line of scrimmage, the Bobcats’ first missed opportunity of the game. To no surprise, Bowling Green made them play. On the ensuing possession, the Falcons marched 69 yards in one minute and 39 seconds to the end zone.
Later, Ohio had a chance to pull the game close just before the half, trailing 27-14. The Bobcats would get the ball at the start of the third quarter, and a score on this drive would put them back in position to take the lead — an opportunity that wouldn’t seem available later in the game.
Again, the Bobcats moved the ball with ease against the Falcons’ defense. After a Derrius Vick five-yard run, it seemed that the Bobcats would be set up with a field goal to cut the deficit to ten and give them confidence going into the half. Instead, Vick was charged with a personal foul after his run, pushing Ohio out of field goal range. Plus, with the way Bowling Green was dashing Ohio’s defense, he was nearly out of opportunities left in that game.
By getting the ball out of the half, the Bobcats were left with one last chance to score and make it a game. However, that chance was stopped before they could even get started. As Vick faced an injury on the first play of the half, this forced backup J.D. Sprague to come in for his first action in a few weeks and now left with the nearly impossible task of bringing the Bobcats back into the game. Seven plays later, the Bobcats would punt. And as it had been all game, the Falcons took advantage of another Ohio missed opportunity.
“There were times where we went right down the field,” Solich says about his offense. “Probably didn’t finish enough of those drives off for several reasons.”
Offensively, the Bobcats did everything they could to match the Falcons offense, even gaining more yards than the top-ranked Falcons did. However, it was the play made by BG quarterback Matt Johnson that was the difference, picking apart the Ohio defense with both his arm and his legs. He threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns and avoided rushers on multiple occasions to find open receivers down field.
“It’s tough to contain a guy like that,” said Ohio defensive end Casey Sayles.
After a 5-1 start, the Bobcats have dropped their last three games, all in blowout fashion. The defense, which looked stout in those first six games, has given up 152 points during their three-game skid. Even with a few bad performances, the Bobcats aren’t trying to dwell on the past. Instead, their focus has set itself on the final three games of the season.
“We gotta finish strong,” said Sebastian Smith. “There’s no other option.”