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Published: Sunday, 9/23/2007

Falcons defense, Sheehan rip Owls

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Bowling Green's Tyler Sheehan put the ball in the air 47 times yesterday, completing 30 passes for 351 yards and four TDs. Bowling Green's Tyler Sheehan put the ball in the air 47 times yesterday, completing 30 passes for 351 yards and four TDs.
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BOWLING GREEN - Kenny Lewis ripped the ball away moments before Jacob Hardwick knocked it away.

Two monumental plays quickly changed Bowling Green State University's outlook from fidgety to relieved to relaxed in what became a 48-35 rout of Temple yesterday at Perry Stadium.

The chance of repeating last year's painful and embarrassing loss to the Owls was all but eliminated early in the third quarter when Lewis, surrounded by several teammates, wrested the ball from Temple's Josh Bundy and sprinted 35 yards to give BGSU a 28-21 lead. Hardwick's ensuing sack and forced fumble in the end zone of Adam DiMichele that Orlando Barrow recovered couldn't supercede Lewis' steal in the eyes of Falcons coach Gregg Brandon.

"Kenny Lewis stole the ball, that's what I'm going to remember about this game," Brandon said.

He will also remember his team's sloppiness, a contrast from BGSU's first two games when tackling well and taking care of the football were not an issue against much better opponents than Temple (0-4, 0-2). One of the worst programs in the country, Temple seemingly made a good decision by joining the Mid-American Conference, if for no other reason than its annual game against the Falcons.

If redemption from 2006 was on the Falcons' minds, as many of them claimed, the first half offered very little proof. Three turnovers, senseless penalties, and a passive defense all contributed to BGSU's worst half of the season.

"I looked at my team at halftime, and I saw a look of determination, and I saw a look of frustration, so I didn't know who was coming out in the second half," Brandon said.

Turned out it was both.

The Falcons  Kenny Lewis runs for a touchdown after stripping the ball from Temple s Josh Bundy in the third quarter. The Falcons Kenny Lewis runs for a touchdown after stripping the ball from Temple s Josh Bundy in the third quarter.
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Frustrated with a 21-21 tie, a determined defense took matters into its own hands.

Lewis' strip and Barrow's scoop were simply the highlights of an improved defensive effort, one that had DiMichele scrambling for safety throughout the second half. Visions of Diyral Briggs continually sprinting toward him may have kept the junior quarterback up last night.

"We've been there before, close games at halftime," said linebacker Erique Dozier, who had a game-high 12 tackles. "We came out fired up and got the momentum back."

BGSU (2-1, 1-0) now has a bit of momentum three weeks before it begins play against a gantlet of Mid-American Conference East division opponents. But there are some issues to clear up.

For instance, can the Falcons keep producing with an almost uncanny lack of offensive balance? Brandon does not appear worried.

"As long as Tyler keeps throwing the ball like he is, we're going to continue to do that," Brandon said. "We like to spread people out and throw the ball around. That's Bowling Green football."

The Falcons ran the ball 27 times, but that figure was skewed by quarterback scrambles and run plays after the game's outcome had been determined.

Sheehan was again efficient, though his stats - 30 of 47 passing for 351 yards and four touchdowns - suggest he was much better.

His two first-half interceptions were poor decisions, but his ability to spread the ball to various receivers has been excellent.

"I thought he was OK," Brandon said, noting the interceptions as the reason for his less- than-rousing assessment of the sophomore.

A prototypical pocket passer, Sheehan does not get enough credit for his scrambling ability. Many times yesterday he avoided a pass rush and either picked up positive yards or found an open receiver, as he did early in the second quarter when he essentially shot-putted the ball to Freddie Barnes in the back corner of the end zone.

"I'm proud of his performance because he spread the ball around, and he stayed composed," said Tyrone Pronty, who caught Sheehan's fourth touchdown pass, a three-yarder.

Though they won't admit it, the Falcons probably sat through halftime with thoughts of last year's 28-14 loss to Temple racing through their heads. A repeat result would have nullified all positives from the early season and possibly sent the Falcons into a downward spiral.

But that's moot because BGSU responded nicely in the second half.

"It just seems like the level of expectations around here is we have to blow people out, and that isn't going to happen anymore," Brandon said.

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com.



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