Bowling Green's Ray Hutson evades the Missouri defense to score in the first quarter to give the Falcons an early 7-0 lead in Columbia, Mo.
L.G. Patterson / AP Enlarge
COLUMBIA, Mo. - A United States stealth aircraft flew over Memorial Stadium as the University of Missouri's marching band played the national anthem prior to Bowling Green State University facing the No. 25 Tigers.
The Falcons attempted to follow the pregame events with their own stealth act.
Flying under the radar of the Tigers' Top 25 ranking, the Falcons had the announced crowd of 65,401 on hand for Missouri's home opener virtually in silence for three quarters.
BG led 20-6 when Willie Geter scored on a one-yard touchdown run with 9:44 remaining in the third quarter.
However, Missouri's offense, led by sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert, came alive late to score 21 unanswered points to claim a 27-21 come-from-behind victory.
"Their offensive line, especially in the fourth quarter, started wearing us down," BG coach Dave Clawson said. "We were not able to make a stop and get off the field."
BG quarterback Tyler Sheehan, who completed
29-of-46 passes for 206 yards, couldn't lead the Falcons back after Missouri eventually took the lead. BG's last offensive play resulted in an incompletion near midfield on a fourth-and-three play with 50 seconds left in the contest.
"I can't say that our guys didn't play hard because they did," Sheehan said. "I think Missouri stepped it up a little [in the second half], and they made some adjustments. That's what their coaches are paid to do.
"I think we played good enough to win, but the outcome just didn't happen."
The Falcons may look back on the loss as a contest in which they didn't fully capitalize on some early opportunities.
BG came up with two fumble recoveries in Missouri territory in the first half only to come away with a pair of field goals by Jerry Phillips.
"There were definitely missed opportunities," Sheehan said. "We executed early, and then we started not executing later in the game."
After holding the Tigers (2-0) to a pair of field goals in the first half, the Falcons (1-1) let Missouri put together three straight scoring drives.
The Tigers came right back with their next possession and drove 87 yards on 11 plays with Gabbert connecting with Jared Perry for a 27-yard touchdown to tighten the score, 20-13, with 57 seconds to play in the third quarter.
The Tigers, who rolled up more than 400 total yards in Missouri's season-opening 37-9 win over Illinois, were just beginning the second-half surge. They took their next possession and struck again to even the score for the first time on the night.
Gabbert completed a nine-play drive covering 72 yards by connecting with Wes Kemp for a 33-yard touchdown reception that made it 20-20 with 10:15 remaining in the fourth quarter.
And after the Falcons offense was held in check on its next possession, Gabbert led the Tigers on their way to taking the lead for the first time. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound sophomore QB directed the Tigers on a seven-play, 60-yard scoring drive. The possession concluded with Gabbert handing off to wide receiver Derrick Washington, who scored on a one-yard run.
Early on, BG's offense put together an impressive 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive that culminated with Sheehan tossing a quick pass to Ray for an 11-yard touchdown completion. Hutson, who became a starter due to the injury of Tyler Pronty, went untouched into the end zone off the quick hitch route thanks in part to a seam-opening block by fellow receiver Chris Wright.
The Falcons led 7-0 with 2:52 left in the first quarter.
And it wasn't long before BG would add to its early lead.
Cody Basler and Carlos Tipton set up the Falcons' next scoring drive by teaming up to force the Tigers into committing a turnover on the first play of their next possession. Basler flushed Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert out of the pocket and was able to force him to drop the football as he pulled him to the ground. Tipton promptly fell on the loose football at Missouri's 22-yard line.
The Falcons settled for a 37-yard field goal from Jerry Phillips to make it 10-0 after Freddie Barnes failed to hang on to a pass from Sheehan on third down.
Phillips came through for the Falcons again following the Tigers' second turnover in the half when he booted a 32-yarder to make it 13-0 with 12:14 left in the second quarter.
Missouri put some points on the board when Grant Ressel made a 38-yard field goal to make it 13-3 with 8:27 left in the first half.
Ressel added a 46-yard field goal with 51 seconds remaining in the second quarter.