KENT, Ohio — A week ago, the Bowling Green State University football team tripped up an overconfident Temple team.
Saturday, it was the Falcons who fell into the same trap, sleepwalking through a 27-15 loss to Kent State at Dix Stadium.
“We came into that game knowing they were going to sleep on us a little bit,” BG wide receiver Kamar Jorden said of the win over Temple last week. “I didn’t see that from our team this week, but the team wasn’t locked in like it was last week.
“To me, we seemed a little comfortable. In the MAC, you can’t be comfortable because the other teams are too good. We have to come in with the same emotion, the same intensity every week.”
The Falcons struggled on offense, defense, and special teams to wash away any of the positives from the Temple victory, a win that Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson called, “fool’s gold.”
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“You have a big win like that, and maybe players thought they had arrived,” he said. “I don’t think we weren’t excited to play this game, or we didn’t play hard or we weren’t prepared. I felt the kids were into it all week.
“I just thought our execution was awful.”
The loss dropped BG to 4-5 overall and 2-3 in the Mid-American Conference. Kent State claimed its first victory over a FBS school, improving to 2-6 and 1-3 in the MAC.
Statistically, the Bowling Green offense seemed strong, piling up 445 yards of total offense against a KSU defense that ranked among the MAC leaders. But there were flaws in the numbers: the Falcons had 400 yards passing and just 45 rushing, and BG turned the ball over three times on offense — two of which led directly to Kent State touchdowns.
“This was a very disappointing game,” Clawson said. “I knew coming into this game that Kent State was better than their record, but we made too many mistakes to beat any football team at this level.
“We never had any balance on offense. We played pitch-and-catch, but they kept it in front of them and didn’t allow us to score touchdowns.”
Even worse was the Falcons’ struggles on the Golden Flashes’ side of the field. BG had the ball inside Kent State’s 30 on nine different drives, yet failed to score on five of those drives.
Part of the problem was Bowling Green’s continued struggles on third down, where it was 4-of-14 (and 0-for-2 on fourth down), and part of it was the struggles of a ground game that managed just 1.6 yards per carry. And four trips to the “red zone” — inside the Kent State 20 — produced just two field goals and two interceptions.
The Falcons’ only touchdown came on a 52-yard pass from Matt Schilz to Jorden early in the fourth quarter.
“We weren’t producing,” Jorden said of BG’s red-zone struggles. “We’ve got to get better in the red zone — we have to start producing, or we’re going to keep losing these close games.
“It’s everybody — the line has to block the right people, the receivers have to get a release and get open, and the quarterback has to make the right decisions. It’s everybody.”
As for the game itself, two key plays sealed the Falcons’ fate. One came as BG drove down to the KSU 5 late in the third quarter while trailing just 10-6. Facing a third-and-three, Schilz threw an ill-advised pass that Luke Wollet intercepted in the end zone.
The other came with the score still 10-6 as the Falcons were about to receive a punt. Eugene Cooper settled under the ball but let it drop — and it bounced off his foot right to KSU’s Andre Parker on the BG 15. That was one of several special teams gaffes as the Falcons missed two field goals, twice kicked the ball out of bounds on kickoffs, and once fumbled the ball into the end zone, a play which ended with BG beginning a drive on its 6.
Two plays after Cooper’s fumble, the Flashes scored on a 14-yard pass from Keith Spencer to Justin Thompson, and the Falcons came no closer than five points the rest of the way.
“It was very frustrating,” junior linebacker Dwayne Woods said following the loss. “We were put in the driver’s seat to win the MAC title last week, and now our road is a little tougher.
“I guess we just have to deal with the consequences — and keep fighting.”
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com or 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.