BiG TWITTER POST: Falcons overcome mistakes w/ strong run D, effective pass game to claim 21-13 victory over Idaho in home opener at Doyt Saturday
BiG OVERVIEW: The Falcons used a 42-yard pass play from quarterback Matt Schilz to Shaun Joplin to set up a score on their second series, with Anthon Samuel capping the five-play, 67-yard drive with a 4-yard TD run with 6:12 left in the first quarter. Midway through the second quarter Idaho drove down to BG 3-yard line but had to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Trey Farquhar with 1:48 left in the half. The Vandals then sacked Schilz and forced a fumble they recovered on the Falcons’ 32, but again the BG defense held and forced a 22-yard field goal by Farquhar. On its first drive of the second half the Falcons covered 80 yards in nine plays, with Samuel capping the drive with a 29-yard TD run with 3:46 to play. Bowling Green’s Josh Pettus intercepted a pass on Idaho’s 28, and three plays later Schilz found Je’Ron Stokes for a 16-yard touchdown strike at the 2:31 mark of the quarter. The game remained 21-6 until midway through the final quarter when the Vandals drove 78 yards in seven plays for a TD on a 16-yard pass from Dominique Blackman to Marquan Major with 6:22 left. Idaho did get the ball back with 3:41 to play in the game, but BG recovered a fumble at the Vandals’ 33 and ran out the clock.
BiG PLAY: As it was last Saturday in Florida, two plays very close to one another swung the balance of the game in favor of the winning team. The first “play” actually was a series of plays by the BG defense on Idaho’s first drive of the third quarter. The Vandals drove from their 26 to the Falcons’ 18 before a penalty forced Idaho back five yards. A big tackle-for-loss by Chris Jones made it second-and-21, and the Vandals gained just 10 yards back before Trey Farquhar attempted a 36-yard field goal that would have given Idaho the lead. But Farquhar missed wide left (first big play) for the first big play. Shortly after that a sack and a penalty forced the Falcons into a second-and-26 from their own 4, but Matt Schilz got 11 of those yards back on a pass to Alex Bayer before connecting with Chris Gallon on the second big play, a 37-yard catch-and-run to convert a third-and-15. From there BG drove for a touchdown and had command of the game the rest of the way.
OFFENSIVE BiG MAN: Junior wide receiver Shaun Joplin rebounded nicely from the Florida contest, finishing with a team-leading seven catches for 117 yards. Of Bowling Green’s 16 “explosive” plays – plays of 10 yards or more – Joplin had four, receptions that covered 42, 15, 16, and 24 yards. Joplin’s catch and yardage totals were both single-game career highs. ... Honorable mention goes to junior QB Matt Schilz, who completed 25-of-35 passes (68.6 percent) for 283 yards and one TD while generally managing the game well; sophomore RB Anthon Samuel, who had 67 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries, giving him more rushing yards than the entire Idaho team (six net yards) – or the rest of the BG team, for that matter (23 net yards); and freshman WR Chris Gallon, who followed up a strong effort at Florida with a six-catch, 89-yard performance against the Vandals.
DEFENSIVE BiG MAN: There were several players who put together strong performances as well. Let’s give the nod to senior DT Chris Jones, who finished with five tackles on the night. Of those five tackles, two were sacks and three total were behind the line of scrimmage. A fourth tackle went for no gain. ... The leader of the “honorable mention” group is junior linebacker Paul Swan, who led the Falcons with nine tackles, six of which were solo stops, and also forced the fumble that effectively decided the game. … Other honorable mentions were junior CB Cameron Truss, who had eight stops; sophomore LB D.J. Lynch, who had six tackles, including part of one that was behind the line of scrimmage, and sophomore rover Gabe Martin, who had three tackles, two of which ended up as sacks.
SPECIAL TEAMS BiG MAN: The choice here is freshman punt returner Ryan Burbrink, who returned three punts a total of 36 yards, or a stellar 12 yards per return. One of those returns covered 24 yards; the first two returns would have been better had he received better blocking from his “gunners.” Honorable mention goes to freshman kickoff specialist Anthony Farinella. Even though Farinella averaged just 58.3 yards per kickoff, he pinned Idaho inside the 25 (the spot of touchbacks this season) on three of his four kicks.
BiG NUMBERS: Actually, this one should be called BiG and Little numbers, because the difference between the run and pass games of the Vandals were ridiculously different. Idaho threw the ball 38 times (and completed 30, or 78.9 percent) for 352 yards. That’s 9.3 yards per completion (pretty good) or 11.7 yards per attempt (not outrageous. Don’t believe me? BG averaged 11.8 yards per attempt Saturday). But the Idaho running game? Non-existent. The Vandals ran the ball 20 times (including four sacks) and finished with six total yards rushing. That’s right: SIX, or 0.3 yards per rush. Even if you take the sacks out of the equation, Idaho had just 35 yards rushing on 16 attempts, or just 2.2 yards per carry.
BiG QUESTION: Can the Falcons perform better against their arch-rivals this week? If BG plays as it did Saturday, it will not beat TSUN. But many of the Falcons’ problems were self-inflicted, especially on the offensive line. Bowling Green expected to be better on the line this season, but Saturday’s contest was a step backwards after an encouraging effort at Florida. The offensive line will need to take another step forward this week if the Falcons hope to open Mid-American Conference play with a victory.
Click here to read The Blade story from Saturday’s contest. Click here to read the notebook from Saturday’s contest. Click here to read the in-game chat from Saturday’s game. Click here to view a photo gallery from Saturday’s contest. Click here for a couple of other pre-game photos of the two young ladies who survived that crash that took the lives of three sorority sisters; the pair were honorary captains of the Falcons.