Bowling Green State University fans might have thought Saturday's game at Ball State would feature the first appearance of Anthony Turner, the Falcons' quarterback of the future. But instead, they saw something that's much more pertinent this early in the season: BGSU can come back on the road.
Because of turnovers, BGSU was up by just a touchdown at halftime against the Cardinals, who were picked to finish last in the Mid-American Conference West Division. Sloppy pass defense even allowed the Cardinals to take the lead for 44 seconds early in the fourth quarter.
But after falling behind, the Falcons, who had not won a MAC opener on the road since 1996, demonstrated an ability to make big plays when they are needed.
"To win the way we did," BGSU coach Gregg Brandon said yesterday, "was just awesome."
Brandon said he learned of the Falcons' early conference woes on the road in recent history just before Saturday's game.
"That was the last thing I needed to hear," Brandon said.
It probably echoed for Brandon throughout the game, as three Falcons fumbled and quarterback Omar Jacobs threw an interception. The turnovers resulted in 17 Ball State points.
"The hardest thing to overcome in any football game is turnovers, especially when you're on the road," Brandon said. "If we score those [two drives into Ball State territory that ended in fumbles], it's over at halftime."
After falling behind for the second time in the game, though, BGSU (1-1, 1-0 MAC) needed just five plays to drive 80 yards and regain the lead. On third-and-10 in Cardinal territory, Jacobs completed a 55-yard pass to Charles Sharon, and then found Steve Sanders for the TD reception two plays later.
"Everybody made plays today and it just so happened ours came at the right time," Sanders said. "We just stayed positive and did our jobs."
The Falcons' defense did its part late, too, stunting the Cardinals' final drives by using a third-down stop, a sack and two interceptions. The first pick, by freshman cornerback Antonio Smith with six minutes left, gave the Falcons a safety net as he returned the ball 47 yards for a touchdown to give BGSU a nine-point lead.
The Falcons do not play this weekend, but they will be preparing for a game next Wednesday, Sept. 21 at Boise State. Brandon said yesterday it was a needed break to heal a few players who were still hurting from the Wisconsin game.
Near the end of the Ball State game, defensive tackle Monte Cooley left the game with an injured shoulder, but Brandon said yesterday he is fine.
JACOBS WINS AGAIN: For the second consecutive week, Jacobs was named MAC East Division offensive player of the week. He finished Saturday 27 of 43 for 428 yards and five touchdowns. Jacobs' season passing totals of 886 yards and 10 touchdowns are No. 1 in the nation after two weeks of play.