BOWLING GREEN — No one player can take the blame for Bowling Green State University's 28-26 loss to Buffalo at Perry Stadium Saturday. But there was plenty to go around.
One of the biggest culprits, especially on offense, was the injuries that stripped the Falcons of starting quarterback, redshirt freshman Matt Schilz, and starting left tackle Blaec Walker.
The loss of Schilz, still hampered by a sprained shoulder suffered in defeating Marshall, was mildly unexpected.
“He practiced Tuesday and we were hopeful, and then Wednesday he didn't feel well,” BG coach Dave Clawson said.
Sophomore Aaron Pankratz replaced Schilz and struggled. He completed just 12-of-37 passes for 167 yards; 49 of those yards came on a TD strike to Tyrone Pronty late in the second quarter, and 48 came on a screen to Willie Geter.
Pankratz also threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. The loss of Walker, who suffered an ankle injury in the loss to Michigan, was more unexpected.
“We thought we would have him, and then he couldn't practice Wednesday,” Clawson said.
Center Ben Bojicic returned to the lineup after missing two games, with Nick Torresso moving from center to right guard. Dominic Flewellyn moved from right guard to left guard; Tyler Donahue switched from right tackle to left tackle, and Chip Robinson moved from right guard to right tackle.
BG finished with just nine net yards rushing, thanks to 47 yards in losses. Some of those losses came on two sacks of Pankratz, who was flustered by five quarterback “hurries” credited to the Bulls.
But Bojicic said the shuffling wasn't the cause for the line troubles. “The coaches are calling the right plays, but we need to execute,” he said. “Sometimes we do, some times we don't. And in this game we didn't do it that much.”
The net result was just 176 yards of total offense by the Falcons.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: The Falcon defense entered the game ranked 120th among FBS schools — dead last — in total defense, allowing an average of 529.5 yards per game.
Saturday they allowed Buffalo “only” 441 yards and also forced six turnovers. And while the tackling was better than in the UM debacle, BG allowed the Bulls to convert 12-of-19 third downs.
“We made some stops, and we made some big plays on defense, but the key was getting off [the field] on third down,” Clawson said. “We didn't rush the passer well, and we didn't cover very well.”
Dwayne Woods led the Falcons with a whopping 20 tackles, including a pair for six yards in losses, while Keith Morgan and Champ Fells each had 13 to go with a recovered fumble.
Robert Lorenzi had two of the four interceptions BG pulled in, with Morgan and Cameron Truss getting the others.
“We need to be more focused on every down,” Lorenzi said. “We need to have each others backs.
“And …we all need to be on the same page.”
SHORT YARDAGE: WR Kamar Jorden, who came into the game averaging 10 catches per game, finished with just two receptions for 12 yards. … Nine Buffalo penalties gave the Falcons not only 104 yards but also three first downs, including two late in the game that kept BG hopes alive. … Geter finished with 32 net yards rushing but also had 63 yards on five catches. … Pronty's 49-yard TD catch was his third touchdown catch in as many games.