Jerry "BooBoo" Gates returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown.
The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
BOWLING GREEN — BooBoo Gates grabbed an interception, then yelled what could become the rallying cry for the Bowling Green State University football team.
“I caught the ball and said to Darrell Hunter, ‘Let’s ride,’” Gates said.
Gates rode 37 yards for a touchdown, and the Falcons rode to a 37-12 victory over Miami at Doyt Perry Stadium Saturday. BG scored the game’s final 20 points to snap a six-game home losing streak to the RedHawks, improving to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the Mid-American Conference.
Miami dropped to 3-4 and 2-1 in the league.
Bowling Green dominated the RedHawks on both sides of the ball, finishing with 486 yards of total offense to Miami's 256, which included just three yards rushing.
“I thought this win started up front,” BG coach Dave Clawson said. “On offense we ran the ball really well, and it set up some play-action opportunities, so we threw the ball more efficiently.
“It was good to get the offense in rhythm.”
Miami took the opening kickoff and drove to the Falcons’ 19 before settling for a 36-yard field goal by Kaleb Patterson, but the BG offense responded with a drive of its own. The Falcons rumbled 61 yards on 11 plays, with John Pettigrew capping the drive with a two-yard TD run.
On the first drive of the second quarter, the BG offense struck again, using a 27-yard pass from Matt Schilz to Alex Bayer to set up a touchdown, this one coming on a seven-yard pass in the flat from Schilz to Anthon Samuel.
And the Falcons’ next drive saw them rumble 61 yards on 14 plays before stalling, with Stephen Stein booting a 26-yard field goal.
Bowling Green held the ball for more than 12 minutes in the 15-minute second quarter, thanks in part to a running game that posted 251 yards.
“We’re trying to become a balanced team,” said Samuel, who finished with a career-high 171 rushing yards on 22 carries. “We have a bunch of great backs who can go in there and get the job done.
“And our linemen are awesome. They were fired up, and it was great to run behind them.”
The ground game allowed the Falcons to hold the ball for more than 37 minutes in the game.
“One of our goals on offense this week was, every time we had the football, we wanted to make two first downs,” Clawson said. “We wanted to keep [Miami quarterback Zac Dysert] on the sidelines and not let him get into a rhythm or groove.”
The RedHawks' 256 yards of total offense were far short of their season average of 394.5 yards per game and included just three yards rushing, thanks in part to four Falcons sacks, and 11 plays that finished with negative yardage.
“We don’t want teams to establish the run, so they have to throw the ball,” Gates said. “Then it’s up to the back seven to make plays.
“We were prepared for their five-wide and empty stuff. We were just out there running around and making plays.”
This week the Falcons also added a twist to their defensive dominance, forcing three turnovers — including the Gates TD interception.
Despite the defensive dominance, Miami used a 44-yard field goal by Patterson just before halftime and a two-yard TD pass from Dysert to Andy Cruse early in the third quarter to cut its deficit to 17-12.
After an exchange of punts, BG drove 68 yards on six plays — including a 25-yard pass from Schilz to Je’Ron Stokes and a 21-yard completion to Tyler Beck — to punch the ball into the end zone. Schilz had Chris Gallon isolated in one-on-one coverage, and Gallon caught a 13-yard pass for the score.
“If we get stopped there and have to kick a field goal — and assuming we make it — it’s still a one-score game,” Clawson said. “Instead, it’s a two-score game, and we start to make them one-dimensional.
“When we made them one-dimensional, it allows your defense to tee off and get after people. That [catch] might have been the play of the game.”
BG nearly forced the RedHawks into a safety on the ensuing kickoff, and on the first play from scrimmage, Gates caught a tipped pass and rumbled 37 yards for the game-breaking touchdown.
“They ran a route that they love to run,” Gates said. “The receiver went up in the air and tipped the ball, and I made a play on it.
“I told Darrell, ‘Let’s ride.’”
And the Falcons did.