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Falcons miss chance with failed 2-point try

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Toledo's Cheatham Norrils, left, intercepts a pass intended for Bowling Green's Chris Gallon during the second quarter on Saturday. Toledo jumped out to a 17-point lead early and won 27-15.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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The Bowling Green State University football team found itself with a chance to get back into its contest with archrival Toledo on Saturday.

Trailing 24-9, the Falcons defense got the Rockets to turn the ball over when D.J. Lynch recovered a fumble on Toledo's 24. Eight plays later, the Falcons punched the ball into the end zone when John Pettigrew scored on a two-yard run with 13 minutes, 29 seconds left in the final quarter.

BG coach Dave Clawson faced a choice.

Photo gallery: Battle of I-75: BGSU at UT

One option was to kick the extra point and bring the score to 24-16, meaning the Falcons needed just one score -- and a two-point conversion -- to tie the game. The other was to go for two points, which would make it 24-17 and give Bowling Green the chance to tie the game with a TD and a PAT.

Clawson decided to go for two, and the gamble backfired when Jordan Hopgood was stopped just short of the end zone.

"You're down 15, so you're going to have to go for two [points] one of the two times," he said following the Falcons' 27-15 loss to Toledo. "I chose go for it on the first [touchdown], so that way I would know if it was a one-score or a two-score game.

"Then you know how to play the rest of the game."

Clawson said he knew his decision was an unconventional one.

"I know conventional wisdom is that you kick the extra point and make it a one-score game," he said. "But you're still going to have to go for two."

Toledo essentially made the decision moot with a 14-play, 57-yard drive on its following possession, and Jeremiah Detmer's 42-yard field goal turned it into a two-touchdown game with 5:36 on the clock.

The decision was an indictment of the Falcons' kicking game, which continued to struggle. Freshman Tyler Tate missed a 36-yard attempt wide left in the second quarter.

He made a 32-yard field-goal attempt on the final play of the first half, but then missed an extra point by hitting the left upright after BG's touchdown with 10:45 left in the third period.

"It wasn't just missing the field goal, it also was missing the extra point," Clawson said about his decision to eschew the extra point. "Right now, when we get the ball inside the 20, three points is far from a sure thing for us."

Toledo coach Matt Campbell said his team wasn't surprised by Clawson's decision. "We had a pretty good idea they would go for it at that time," he said. "We kept our defense out there, and we had a pretty good idea they would go for it.

"Whether it was the struggles they had in the kicking game or whether he decided that was the time to go for it, my hat's off to our defense for making a great stop in that game."

JUST FOR STARTERS: Toledo's Byron Best, a redshirt senior, started at cornerback in front of freshman Chris Dukes. It was his first start of year for Best and the 15th start of his career.

Best was helped off the field, favoring his knee, in the second quarter and did not return -- and was on crutches following the contest.

Campbell said he did not expect the injury to be serious.

SACK MASTER: BG's Chris Jones finished with a pair of sacks among his four tackles in the contest. That gives him 19 sacks in his career, moving him past Mitch Crossley (2001-04) into fifth place on the Falcons' all-time list.

Jones needs only one sack to tie Brandon Hicks (1998-2001) for fourth on the all-time list and three to tie Devon Parks for third on that chart.

BIG GAME FOR RUSSELL: Toledo wide receiver Alonzo Russell caught a team-high six passes for a season-best 152 yards, including his 66-yard TD catch-and-run.

Russell nearly doubled his season totals in the game against the Falcons. He entered the contest having caught seven passes for 123 yards.

WHAT A RUSH: BG sophomore tailback Anthon Samuel has had two big games against the Rockets in his career.

He finished Saturday's game with a game-high 112 yards rushing on 15 attempts, an average of 7.0 yards per rush. In his first contest against the Rockets, which came at Doyt Perry Stadium Oct. 15 of last season, Samuel carried the ball 25 times for 105 yards.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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