MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The Bowling Green State University football team needed all of its key performers to play well if it wanted to win Saturday at West Virginia.
So it didn't help that two players, seniors Eugene Cooper and Jovan Leacock, were ruled ineligible because of issues by the NCAA.
Cooper, the team's second-leading receiver with 21 catches for 374 yards and six touchdowns, and Leacock, a back-up safety who plays extensively on special teams, did not travel.
BG issued a statement which read in part, "Through a normal review of student-athlete data, the BGSU compliance office discovered late Thursday that Cooper and Leacock, although academically eligible, failed to complete the certification process with the NCAA Eligibility Center. The BGSU department of athletics is working with the NCAA and expects the situation to be resolved in the upcoming week and that both Cooper and Leacock will be cleared to play again soon."
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"They practiced all week, and when we found out [about the problem] Thursday afternoon we tried to solve it as quickly as we could," BG coach Dave Clawson said. "We kept our fingers crossed that they would be available to play, but at the close of business Friday we didn't have an answer -- and they were technically ineligible."
Senior Ray Hutson started in Cooper's place and finished with three catches for 30 yards, including an 18-yard scoring strike from Matt Schilz for the team's lone touchdown.
"[Cooper] might be playing better than any other receiver in our program," Clawson said. "We're obviously not as good a team without him, but I think Ray Hutson and Adrian Hodges and Shaun Joplin stepped up and played well."
NO EXCUSES: Clawson said the wet, raw day wasn't much of a factor.
"I thought it might help us because of how much they threw the ball," he explained. "But it certainly didn't have any impact on our interceptions or turnovers."
GAME CAPTAINS: The Falcons' game captains were senior defensive end Kevin Moore, junior linebacker Dwayne Woods, sophomore quarterback Matt Schilz and freshman linebacker Gabe Martin. Martin, who also was a captain for the Morgan State contest, is the first freshman to serve as a captain in program history.
INJURY UPDATE: Offensive lineman Chip Robinson, cornerback Cameron Truss and running back Anthon Samuel, all injured, did not play
Sophomore nose tackle Ted Ouellet. who suffered a "stinger" against Miami, suffered a similar injury Saturday.
YOUTHFUL: The Falcons' 67-man travel party included 23 freshmen -- including nine true freshmen -- as well as 20 sophomores.
That means 43 of the 67 players, or more than two-thirds of the players on the sidelines, were either freshmen or sophomores.
And a number of those young players saw action. The Falcons' 22 starters included five sophomores on offense and two sophomores and five freshmen on defense. Four of the "true" freshmen -- defensive end Zach Colvin, offensive lineman Fahn Cooper, defensive back Darrell Hunter and fullback Chris Pohlman -- played, with Hunter earning a start.
"As bad as this game was, some of our young players got some good playing time against a very good team," Clawson said. "At some point down the line that's going to help us."
NEHLEN NOTE: West Virginia's Ryan Nehlen, a junior wide receiver, caught a 15-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. It was the first touchdown reception for Nehlen, the grandson of Don Nehlen, former head coach at Bowling Green (1968-76) and West Virginia (1980-2000).