BOWLING GREEN — History sided heavily with Dave Clawson and the Falcons last night as Bowling Green State University opened the season against highly regarded Troy University at Perry Stadium.
BG's previous eight coaches experienced wins in their debuts.
And the streak remained intact after the Falcons overcame a 14-0 deficit by scoring 31 unanswered points en route to a 31-14 triumph before an enthusiastic season-opening home crowd of 14,514.
Clawson, who was announced as the Falcons head coach back in December, made it clear he preferred to share his first BG victory with the team.
“I really don't want it to be about Dave Clawson winning his first game,” he said. “I really want it to be about the 2009 Falcons winning their first game.
“We have a lot more wins we want to get.”
Yet, the Falcons made Clawson's first win quite memorable with how they pulled together from some early breakdowns to rally back against a team considered bowl-caliber.
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BG quarterback Tyler Sheehan and wideout Freddie Barnes played a major role in the comeback. Sheehan completed 32 of 44 passes for 339 yards, including touchdown passes of 31 and 8 yards to Barnes.
“I don't think I could've scripted this any better,” Sheehan said of the opening game and Dave Clawson's first victory.
Barnes hauled in a school-record 15 receptions for 157 yards. Yet, the best receiving day in Falcons history didn't affect the senior wideout.
“I expect to catch a lot of passes,” said Barnes, who switched from quarterback to wide receiver during his sophomore season.
Barnes' two touchdowns tied the score after Troy quarterback Levi Brown had guided the Trojans on two long scoring drives early in the first half.
BG place-kicker Jerry Phillips scored the game-deciding points when he capped a 10-play, 53-yard drive with a 21-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 17-14 lead with 10:45 left in the fourth quarter.
The scoring drive was set up by Roger Williams intercepting a Brown pass near midfield.
The Falcons offense made it 24-14 with a four-play, 49-yard scoring drive midway through the final quarter that was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Chris Bullock with 7:19 left in the contest.
Adrien Spencer secured the win for the Falcons when he stepped in front of a Brown pass and plucked it out of the air before returning it 64 yards for a touchdown with 2:14 left to play. The defensive stop brought the Falcons fans to their feet.
“I just didn't want to get caught from behind,” Spencer said. “It would have been embarrassing. I was looking at the Jumbo-Tron the whole way.”
However, the entire crowd hadn't even entered the stadium before the Trojans had already produced the first points of the season.
Troy took the game's opening drive and marched 80 yards in seven plays in just under two minutes to take a 7-0 lead. Troy tailback DaJuan Harris finished off the impressive drive with a 2-yard plunge into the end zone with 13:06 remaining.
Troy increased its lead to 14-0 with its first possession of the second quarter.
Again, Brown, who finished the night completing 28 of 44 passes for 263 yards, picked apart the Falcons pass defense early in the contest.
The Trojans marched 89 yards on 11 plays with Brown finding Jerrel Jernigan for a 12-yard touchdown completion with 9:29 remaining in the second quarter.
STROH CENTER CEREMONY: Three hours prior to the Falcons kicking off the football season, BG officials gathered with a few hundred Falcons supporters in attendance not too far from Perry Stadium to take part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Stroh Center, a multi-purpose facility expected to open in 2012. The center will replace Anderson Arena as the home for the Falcons men's and women's basketball teams and volleyball team. Anderson Arena will serve as the home for the Falcons gymnastics team and student-athlete support services.
CLAWSON F: Troy quarterback Levi Brown probably has spent more time with BG coach Dave Clawson than any of the Falcons. Brown, a 6-4, 219-pound redshirt senior, was recruited by and eventually played for Clawson at Richmond through 2005-06. During that time, Brown helped Richmond claim an Atlantic 10 championship in 2005.
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