After a long, sweaty day at The Swamp Saturday, and a travel day Sunday, I’m behind on my blog posts. Appreciate your patience as I get back into the game …
The Bowling Green football team opened the 2012 season by suffering a 27-14 loss to Florida at The Swamp on Saturday, Sept. 1. The Falcons held their own through much of the contest against the Gators, who were ranked No. 23 in the country, but untimely mistakes in all three phases of the game kept the Falcons from posting the upset. Here's a look at the contest. ...
BiG TWITTER POST: Falcons play well at times but don't take full advantage of opportunities, drop a 27-14 decision to No. 23 Florida at The Swamp Saturday
BiG OVERVIEW: The Falcons scored first on a 12-play, 89-yard drive that was capped by a one-yard TD plunge by John Pettigrew with 1:17 left in the first quarter. Florida dominated play in the second quarter, running for 125 yards as Mike Gillislee scored on runs of 15 and 38 yards. Late in the period BG drove to Florida’s 13, but Stephen Stein missed a 31-yard field-goal attempt just before the half. On BG’s first drive of the second half the Falcons covered 55 yards on eight plays, with Anthon Samuel scoring on a 15-yard run with 9:57 to play. Late in the quarter the Gators took the lead for good on a 34-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis with 6:03 left. Early in the fourth quarter the Gators broke the game open with a 50-yard TD strike from Jeff Driskell to Frankie Hammond with 13:18 left to play, and on its next drive Florida finished off the win with a seven-play, 44-yard drive the Sturgis capped with a 51-yard field goal.
BiG PLAY: Two big third-down plays early in the fourth quarter really quashed Bowling Green’s chances at victory in The Swamp. The first play was just that – the first play of the fourth quarter – when, with BG facing a third-and-three from Florida’s 23, Matt Schilz threw a pass off the hands of Shaun Joplin and into the arms of the Gators’ Marcus Roberson, who returned it to Florida’s 47. If there’s a completion, it’s probably a first down and the Falcons give themselves a chance to score a go-ahead touchdown. Even if that ball is incomplete, the Falcons have the ball on their 23 for a 40-yard field goal attempt. No guarantees of a tie, of course, but certainly a chance. Three plays later, Florida faced a third-and-7 from midfield when Jeff Driskill threw a pass that Frankie Hammond caught; Hammond escaped a tackle by Cameron Truss and broke free to score. Suddenly it was 24-14, and BG never recovered.
OFFENSIVE BiG MAN: This was a tough one – honorable mentions are at the bottom – but I gave the nod to freshman wide receiver Chris Gallon, who caught six passes for a game-high 69 yards in his first college game. He had two receptions for more than 10 yards (one for 18 yards in the first quarter, one for 22 yards in the final period) and no one else had more than one. ... Honorable mention to freshman WR Ryan Burbrink, who had a game-high eight catches for 45 yards; QB Matt Schilz, who completed 24-of-49 passes for 204 yards and was not sacked once by the vaunted Florida defense; and the entire offensive line, for allowing just one sack against the Gators and helping the Falcons finish with 327 yards of total offense.
DEFENSIVE BiG MAN: There were several players who put together strong performances as well. Let’s give the nod to junior nose tackle Ted Ouellet, who finished with four tackles on the night. He had the Falcons’ only sack, good for minus-7 yards, and also combined with Brian Sutton on another tackle for loss. ... Honorable mention goes to freshman defensive end Bryan Baird, who was credited with a team-high five tackles; junior nose tackle Jairus Campbell, who had a pair of tackles, one for a three-yard loss and one for no gain; and junior linebacker Paul Swan, who had four tackles, including a pair for no gain – and another no-gain stop that was taken away by a penalty.
SPECIAL TEAMS BiG MAN: This was a difficult decision, too, but unfortunately it was the inconsistency of the Falcons’ special teams that made this decision difficult. Let’s give the decision to kickoff specialist Anthony Farinella, who had three kickoffs for 157 yards (52.3 yards per kick). That average comes with an asterisk, because BG wasn’t just kicking the ball deep and covering; the Falcons were avoiding Andre Debose and kicking to a specific spot, which Farinella did well. The one time Farinella just “kicked” straight-on came after Anthon Samuel was penalized for taunting, and the boot traveled 65 yards – and Debose returned it 27.
BiG NUMBERS: There were a lot of things to like about the Falcons performance, and I will hit some of them with Sunday Morning Quarterback (which, because of this crazy weekend, will post Monday. Don’t ask). But here’s one to temper the excitement: Florida was flagged for an amazing 14 points that cost them 106 yards. A whopping 10 of those penalties came in the first half, and killed some drives while aiding the Falcons other times. If the Gators are cleaner – and it would be hard to make that many penalties every week – how would the game turn out? It is a cautionary tale, at the least.
BiG QUESTION: Can the Falcons bounce back in their home opener on Saturday against Idaho? This game needs to be put in the rear-view mirror quickly. Learn from the mistakes, improve, and get the win in a contest where BG should be favored. The contest with the Vandals won’t determine any Mid-American Conference titles, but it’s the first step towards bowl eligibility. The Falcons need to take it.