TULSA, Okla. — The Bowling Green State University football team learned some things about itself in a 33-20 loss to Tulsa Saturday night.
While the defense allowed 546 yards of total offense, it used a bend-but-don't-break style to limit one of the more high-powered offenses in the country to just three touchdowns.
The offense had its moments, but it needs to clean up problems caused by penalties, big mistakes at key moments, and the loss of center Ben Bojicic to the offensive line.
But BG coach Dave Clawson thought there was more good than bad from a loss that dropped the Falcons to 0-2, marking their first back-to-back season-opening losses since the 2000 opened the year with four straight setbacks.
“You have to learn from the [mistakes] and you can't repeat them,” Clawson said. “[Mistakes are] going to happen early.
“I don't like it, but I can't tell you it's unexpected.”
Tulsa evened its season record at 1-1.
The Falcons struck first thanks to the defense when, on the third place from scrimmage Tulsa's Trey Watts fumbled, and Angelo Magnone recovered the loose ball on the Golden Hurricane's 44-yard line.
The Falcons then used an 11-play drive to churn up the distance to the end zone, with Schilz completing all seven pass attempts for 44 yards. He completed a 17-yard pass to Nick Rieke to make a second-and-18 manageable, and the Falcons also converted a fourth-and-short on Tulsa's 13 when Willie Jeter moved the pile forward a yard.
Schilz capped the drive by sneaking into the end zone from a yard out with exactly 10 minutes left on the clock.
The Golden Hurricane responded with a 13-play drive that pushed the Falcon defense to the shadow of its own end zone. But BG stiffened on the 6-yard line, forcing Tulsa's Kevin Fitzpatrick to kick a 23-yard field goal.
Bowling Green got the ball on its 22 and tried a Statue of Liberty play that backfired as a Schilz pass was intercepted by Marco Nelson on the Tulsa 45.
The Golden Hurricane needed just two plays to find the end zone as G.J. Kinne found Charles Clay alone down the right sideline for a 42-yard scoring strike.
Tulsa added to its lead early in the second quarter with a 10-play, 58-yard drive that included a 23-yard pass from Kinne to Genesis Cole and a 15-yard strike to Demaris Johnson. The drive stalled at the BG 10, forcing Fitzpatrick to convert a 27-yard field goal.
After a 49-yard kickoff return by Tyrone Pronty, Schilz threw a pass that was picked off by Shawn Jackson on the Tulsa 26. The Golden Hurricane churned out 75 yards on 10 plays, featuring a 34-yard run by Clay and finishing with a 3-yard TD run by Alex Singleton that made the score 20-7.
The Falcon defense reversed the tide with an interception by Dwayne Woods on the Tulsa 20; Woods returned the ball to the 1, and Geter scored on the next play to cut the deficit to six points.
“A lot of times, when a team gives up a big play, you see guys hang their heads or point fingers,” Clawson said. “You don't see our guys [on defense] do that. They keep working hard and keep battling.”
But the Golden Hurricane responded with a six-play, 74-yard drive, and Kinne found Trae Johnson in the corner of the end zone with a 25-yard TD toss with just 32 seconds left.
Bowling Green seemed to draw closer when Schilz threw a 47-yard pass to Kamar Jorden in the Tulsa end zone with no time on the clock. But Jorden was flagged for offensive pass interference on a debatable call, and the Falcons trailed 27-14 at the break.
After an exchange of punts to start the second half, Schilz found Jorden down the left sidelines near midfield; Jorden zigged and zagged his way through the Tulsa defense to finish a 79-yard TD run, only to have the play nullified by a holding penalty.
The penalty pushed the Falcons closer to their end zone and resulted in a punt that Tulsa converted into good field position. The BG defense kept the Golden Hurricane out of the end zone, but Fitzpatrick kicked a 34-yard FG with 6:25 left in the third quarter.
“We had some inopportune breakdowns,” Clawson said. “When [Ben] Bojicic went down [with an injury], we turned to a true freshman, Dominic Flewellyn. Once he got his sea legs, he played really well.”
Late in that period Kinne and Johnson connected twice for passes covering 15 and 14 yards to set up a 46-yard field goal by Fitzpatrick with 56 seconds left.
The lone score of the final quarter was by the Falcons, who drove 56 yards on eight plays and finished with a two-yard TD plunge by Schilz.
“In the second half, that's the best our guys have played,” Clawson said of his defense. “It's a young group, but every time we see little steps of improvement.
“And give credit to the two offenses we've played. It's no accident [Tulsa had the numbers they had]. They are good.”