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Published: Saturday, 4/16/2011

Defenses flex muscles in Falcon spring game

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
John Pettigrew of the victorious White squad breaks loose from an attempted tackle by Orange defensive back Keith Morgan (32). John Pettigrew of the victorious White squad breaks loose from an attempted tackle by Orange defensive back Keith Morgan (32).
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University football team’s spring game made two things clear.

One was that the Falcon defense, especially the line, should be improved over last season.

The other was that the BG offense, which struggled mightily last season because of line troubles, still has some work to do to prepare for the coming year.

Friday’s spring game was won 10-7 by the White team, which featured the first team offense and second team defense, over the Orange.

But the real winners were both defenses, which dominated play, especially in the first half.

“I liked the way our defense came out,” Falcon coach Dave Clawson said. “I thought we tackled well and rushed the passer well.

“I think we have improved on defense this spring, and that showed up [Friday night].”

It especially showed up in the first half, which was scoreless. The two offenses combined for just 118 yards on 67 plays, including seven sacks.

Of the 16 offensive drives in the half, 10 resulted in three-and-outs.

“It all starts up front,” Clawson said. “Our defensive line has made some great strides and is really improved.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to see more photos from the Bowling Green State University spring game.

“Chris Jones just keeps getting better, and Kevin Alvarez is playing well. Ted Ouellet is really improved and Bryan Thomas is making strides.

“When we get Jairus Campbell and Ronny Goble [back from injury], that’s a position where we can take a major leap forward.”

It didn’t help the offenses that the game was played with temperatures in the 40s, a strong wind coming from the east, and a light but steady rain.

“I’m not going to make any excuses, but it was a little windy out there,” quarterback Matt Schilz said. “We needed to have a better tempo.

“We just weren’t connecting like we should have been. But we were mentally tough enough to put the first half behind us and play the second half, which I thought was good.”

Midway through the third quarter, Schilz directed the Orange on a nine-play, 65-yard drive that was capped by a four-yard touchdown run by Jamel Martin.

Schilz then quarterbacked the White to a tying TD, connecting on a 60-yard pass to Adrian Hodges that set up an 18-yard scoring strike to Tyler Beck.

“We ran more max protection — keeping the tight ends in and the running backs in,” Clawson said of the offenses’ halftime adjustment. “That allowed the routes to be extended a little bit, and that gave us more time.

“That’s why we had more good throws and catches [in the second half].”

In the fourth quarter Schilz directed the White to its game-winning score, driving 50 yards in seven plays to set up a 45-yard field goal by Stephen Stein with 6:35 left.

The Orange had a chance to win as quarterback Trent Hurley completed a 37-yard pass to Chris Scheidt that set up a first-and-goal from the White 1.

Hurley was ruled “tackled” — the quarterbacks wore red jerseys, signaling that they were not to be brought to the ground — short of the goal on first down, and the Orange fumbled the ball away on second down.

The quarterbacks took snaps with both sides, and Schilz completed 20-of-37 for 249 yards and TD, while Hurley connected on 10-of-25 for 111 yards with an interception.

Hodges was one of five receivers with three catches but finished with 101 yards. Martin was the game’s top runner, netting 51 yards on 13 carries.

Defensively, reserve lineman Mickey Wagner had 12 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss, while linebacker Gabe Martin had 11 tackles to lead the White.

For the Orange, Jones finished with 2.5 tackles for loss among his seven stops, the same number of tackles as defensive back Ryland Ward. Paul Swan  added three tackles behind the line among his six overall tackles.

The Falcon defenses combined for 24 negative-yardage plays, including 11 sacks.

“I always walk out with a sick feeling in my stomach after some of the mistakes we’ve made,” Clawson said.

“We’ve made progress. I think we’re way ahead in the secondary of where we were a year ago, and we’ve taken some steps on the offensive line. That progress has to continue in the summer and into the season.”

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com or 419-724-6481.



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