BOWLING GREEN - The story was splashed across their eyes. On one side there was sparkle, and a glint of relief. On the other, the eyes were wrinkled with red, flushed with tears, and wearing the scars wrought by frustration.
Ohio defeated Bowling Green 23-21 yesterday in the Falcons' final home game of the Gary Blackney era.
The Bobcats blocked a punt into the Bowling Green end zone in the final minute of the third quarter for a safety and the two-point difference in the Mid-American Conference game.
Ohio coach Jim Grobe said he expected the Falcons to be emotionally charged in their last trip across the Perry Stadium sidelines under Blackney, who announced his resignation earlier this season. He has one game remaining in his 10th and final year directing the Falcons.
“Their emotion was a huge concern for us,” Grobe said. “We knew we were going to get their best shot since this was it for their seniors and for Gary. Their kids played their hearts out. Honestly, this was a game nobody deserved to lose.”
The Falcons opened with a flash, marching 80 yards in five plays for a touchdown on the first possession of the game. Quarterback Andy Sahm hit Kurt Gerling for 22 yards, then a couple of plays later he pumped first, then sent a bomb to David Bautista streaking down the sideline.
Bautista ran under it and got his hands on the ball at the same time as Ohio cornerback Bop White grabbed it. The two went down at the 2, and Bautista was awarded the 54-yard reception. On the second play, John Gibson rumbled in for the touchdown, and with Mike Knapp's kick BG led 7-0 with two minutes gone in the game.
Ohio (6-4, 3-2 MAC East) evened the score a short time later when Sahm tried to throw a screen pass over the middle from deep in BG territory.
Ohio defensive lineman Art Adams was on the receiving end and took it 10 yards for the touchdown.
“As a defense, we knew we had to come out and make some plays against these guys,” Adams said, “but that pass was pretty much right to me so I just grabbed it and ran.”
The Falcons went back on top late in the opening period, aided by a couple more big plays. A short pass to tight end Jason Van Dam ended up as a 27-yard gain to the Ohio 37 after the redshirt freshman from Ontario got a full head of steam and ran right over a couple of Ohio tacklers.
Two plays later Joe Alls broke through the line and shifted back and forth on his way to a 34-yard touchdown that gave BG a 14-7 lead.
Ohio came right back and tied it on an 11-yard TD run by Jamel VJ Block Fits: Block Depth: 3.12i Expansion 0i (F2) Patterson before the first period ended. The Bobcats then got a 41- yard punt return from Raynald Ray, who was caught inside his 10, circled back into his end zone, then reversed his field and came all the way out to the 50.
Later Ray scored on an eight- yard run for a 21-14 Ohio lead.
“Our special teams have been an area that had been real solid for us,” Blackney said, “but the past couple of games we haven't had as much success.”
The Bobcats held that edge at the half, and knocked Sahm out of the game with a shoulder injury just before the break. He was replaced by freshman Josh Harris.
The Falcon defense evened the score midway through the third period when Southview grad Khary Campbell went 28 yards with an interception for a touchdown with eight minutes left in the third. That brought the somber crowd of 6,646 to life, but Ohio got the deciding points before the quarter ended.
Bowling Green was punting from its 19, and Ohio's Matt Weikert came right up the middle to smother it. In a scramble for the loose ball it rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety and a 23-21 Ohio lead.
“They weren't prepared for us to rush hard,” Weikert said. “I just came free - they never even touched me.”
The Falcons had a shot to win it with 2:16 to play, but Mike Knapp's 40-yard field-goal attempt went wide left, dropping BG to 2-8 overall and 1-5 in the MAC East.
Bowling Green closes the season at Toledo Nov. 22.