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Published: Sunday, 10/18/2009

Falcons' defense takes share of the limelight

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

MUNCIE, Ind. - It wasn't just Bowling Green's offensive output that led to its most impressive win so far this season.

The Falcons' defense produced a stout effort, sharing the limelight in the defeat of Ball State 31-17 yesterday.

The Falcons posted a shutout in the first half, which included limiting the Cardinals to seven first downs, 128 total yards, and a 3-for-8 effort converting third downs.

"That was huge coming out in the first half and shutting them out," said BG defensive end Angelo Magnone, who recorded two tackles and a quarterback hurry. "We made a statement in that first half."

Their work in the trenches aided the Falcons' 24-0 lead at halftime.

BG's scouting report dictated pressuring redshirt freshman quarterback Kelly Page to disrupt the Cardinals' offense.

"We knew we had to get to the quarterback," Magnone said. "We saw that their quarterback had been knocked down 47 times [this season], so we figured if we stuck to the game plan and played hard we could do that and make him one dimensional, and that's what we did."

Page, who suffered a hand injury before halftime, completed only 4 of 9 passes for 39 yards and was intercepted by BG defensive back Roger Williams. Page's replacement, Tanner Justice, completed only 6 of 21 attempts for 92 yards.

PHILLIPS STEPS UP: BG placekicker Jerry Phillips returned to action after missing part of BG's game at Kent State a week ago.

Phillips, a freshman, handled all the kicking duties, making all five extra-point tries.

He missed a 33-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter before kicking a career-best 44-yard field goal with just under six minutes remaining in the second quarter to give BG a 17-0 lead. The Clyde native's previous longest was from 37 yards out.

BULLOCK RUN: The Falcons have struggled to establish a reliable running game.

Fullback Chris Bullock, a 5-11, 218-pounder, produced the Falcons' longest touchdown run of the season when he rumbled 30 yards for a score to give BG a 31-7 lead over Ball State at 12:16 in the third quarter.

From coach Dave Clawson's viewpoint, it was a welcome site to see a Falcons running back score on a run play.

"That's not very long is it? But we've thrown it a lot more than we've run it," Clawson said.

"It was just a gap scheme, and he saw the linebacker scrape over the top and it was a really nice cut. He really cut it against the flow."

MERSHMAN WAITS: Former Bowling Green High standout Aaron Mershman is a freshman at Ball State. The 6-2, 205-pounder has not seen any game-day action this year. He has been limited to signaling in offensive plays from the Cardinals sideline.

He's third on the Cardinals depth chart behind Page and Justice. Page suffered a thumb injury in the first half and did not return to the game. Justice replaced Page, and Mershman became an injury away from seeing his first collegiate action.

INJURY REPORT: BG starting offensive linemen Ben Bojicic (knee) and Brady Minturn (shoulder) suffered injuries and did not return to action. Safety Keith Morgan (head) and defensive lineman Kevin Alvarado (leg) also left the game with injuries.



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