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BOWLING GREEN — There were no silver linings and no happy endings for the Bowling Green State University football team in its 28-27 loss to Wyoming at Doyt Perry Stadium Saturday.
Yes, the Falcons found a way to nearly steal victory from the jaws of defeat. They scored twice in the final 4:16 to give themselves a chance to tie the game, with the second touchdown coming with just 2.1 seconds left on the clock.
The miss of the potential game-tying PAT kick better summed up the Falcons’ defeat more than the comeback did. That’s because the blocked extra point was the last in a long line of BG mistakes that also included six turnovers, two blocked kicks, and a pair of paralyzing — not to mention jaw-dropping — penalties.
“The whole thing is disappointing,” Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said. “Six turnovers is disappointing. The blocked extra point, turned the ball over twice in the red zone, the personal foul in the red zone, jumping offside on a fourth-and-1.
“We had two games where things happened easily, where we went up-and-down the field. Today it wasn’t so easy, and at times we self-destructed.”
It sure was easy early as the Falcons cruised 72 yards on six plays to score on the game’s first drive, with Alex Bayer catching a 40-yard scoring strike from Matt Schilz with just 2:33 off the clock.
“I don’t know what it was after that first drive,” Schilz said. “Everyone did their job on that first drive. But it went downhill from there.”
After the Falcons got two stops on defense, the offense drove to the Wyoming 2 before Schilz and Jordan Hopgood muffed a handoff and the Cowboys’ Luke Ruff recovered. After another stop, BG got the ball near midfield and drove to the Wyoming 27 before Schilz threw an interception that Blair Burns returned, following a penalty, to BG’s 38. Three plays later the game was tied on a seven-yard run by Alvester Alexander.
Midway through the second quarter, Bowling Green mounted a 66-yard drive thanks to Schilz, who threw for 54 of those yards, including a 13-yard scoring strike to Jorden, who caught nine passes for 101 yards in the contest.
In the third quarter, the Falcons were nearly buried under an avalanche of mistakes. After Wyoming covered 91 yards to score — Cowboys QB Brett Smith completed all five of his pass attempts for 70 yards — the Falcons’ D.J. Lynch fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the Cowboys recovered on BG’s 31.
Wyoming moved to the 2, but the Falcons tackled Moore short of the end zone on a fourth-down play. That stop proved to be for naught when Anthon Samuel fumbled and the Cowboys’ Marqueston Huff picked up the pigskin and trotted eight yards for the easy score.
BG drove into the red zone on the next possession, but a personal foul on Chip Robinson moved them back to the 27, and Kyle Burkhardt’s 44-yard field-goal attempt was blocked.
On the second play of the final quarter, Schilz fumbled and the Cowboys’ Josh Biezuns recovered on the BG 22, setting up a 10-yard TD toss from Smith to Dominic Rufran.
Notice a pattern? There’s still a Schilz interception, a misfire on a fourth-and-5 play on the Wyoming 8, and a costly offsides by Kevin Moore when BG had Wyoming facing a fourth-and-1 play with roughly two minutes on the clock.
“When adversity hit, instead of stopping it, we just allowed it to keep happening,” Clawson said.
“When you have six turnovers, you don’t even deserve to be in the game.”
Yet the Falcons arose from the rubble. With 1:18 on the clock, BG needed just seven points to tie when they got the ball on the 11. Schilz was 8-of-10 for 89 yards on the crucial drive, finding Ray Hutson on the back line of the end zone from 10 yards out with 2.1 seconds left on the clock.
Burkhard’s PAT attempt was low, and Wyoming’s Biezuns and Gabe Knapton were credited with the block.
“I think [the ball] hit Josh’s hands first and then hit mine,” Knapton said. “We got a great push. They came down on me, and Josh got free and was able to get his hands on it.”
The result was a painful loss that dropped the Falcons to 2-1, while Wyoming is now 3-0 even though BG outgained them 514 yards to 396.
All that was left was for Bowling Green to try and pick up the pieces heading into its Mid-American Conference opener at defending league champion Miami next Saturday, with a tough game at West Virginia to follow.
“When adversity hits, we’re going to run towards it,” said BG linebacker Dwayne Woods, who finished with 12 tackles. “We’re not going to back away from it at all.”
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com or 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.