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BOWLING GREEN — No defense wants to play without one of its best players, and the Bowling Green State University faced just that predicament Saturday.
Senior linebacker Dwayne Woods couldn’t overcome back problems and was in street clothes on the sidelines for the Falcons’ contest against Miami.
No problem. Paul Swan moved to Woods’ middle linebacker position, D.J. Lynch replaced Swan at the “buck” linebacker, and the Falcons never skipped a beat in a 37-12 win over the RedHawks.
“A year or two years ago, I think if we would have lost Dwayne Woods we would have fallen off a cliff,” BG coach Dave Clawson said. “We just didn’t have a back-up.
“Now we’ve developed Paul Swan to play both linebacker positions. We’ve developed D.J. Lynch, and he has become a good player in his own right.”
Lynch tied BooBoo Gates for the team leadership in tackles with eight, while Swan finished with seven stops, including two behind the line of scrimmage.
“I’m used to playing [middle linebacker],” Swan said. “When one guy goes down, it’s the next man up.
“I felt very comfortable at that position, and I was very confident. I also felt very confident playing next to D.J.”
While Clawson certainly would like to have Woods on the field, he said he also has confidence in Swan, who entered the game second on the team in tackles with 34, and Lynch, who was tied for eighth with 20 stops.
“It’s not like we stuck a guy in there who hadn’t played,” Clawson said. “We’ve been rotating those guys in there all year.”
The results were impressive for a defense that entered the game ranked first in the Mid-American Conference in both points allowed and yards allowed. The Falcons were especially tough against the run, limiting the RedHawks to three net yards rushing on 20 carries.
That marked the fourth time this season BG had held an opponent under 100 yards rushing, including a six-yard effort against Idaho.
INJURY REPORT: Woods wasn’t the only player missing for the Falcons.
Running back Jordan Hopgood missed his second straight game because of injury, while freshman wide receiver Jermal Hosley suffered torn ligaments in his knee during a practice late this week and has been lost for the season.
“It was a noncontact injury,” Clawson said of Hosley’s injury. “His knee buckled on him, and his season is over.”
Hosley played in just two games and was injured in the first half of the season, so the true freshman will be able to redshirt and retain four years of eligibility.”
The biggest injury the Falcons suffered in Saturday’s contest was to tight end Alex Bayer, who left the game late in the first half and did not return because of an undisclosed injury.
SAY WHAT? The Falcons nearly created a safety on a late third-quarter kickoff as a Miami return man fumbled the ball near the goal line, then brushed the ball into the end zone.
Instead of a safety, the RedHawks got a touchback.
“[The referees] were trying to do a good job of explaining,” Clawson said. “I still don’t quite understand it, but that’s probably more on me than on them.
“The official said [the return man] did not possess the ball in the field of play. Since he didn’t possess it in the field of play, that made it a touchback.
“When you win, you can let [plays like that] go."
LOCAL LOOK: St. John’s Jesuit grad Kent Kern was on the field for Miami as a true freshman, seeing action on defense and special teams.
Kern had a pair of kickoff returns that netted 31 yards, with a long of 21 yards. He also finished with three tackles, two on special teams and one from a linebacker position.