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Injury provides chance for Falcons’ Pettigrew

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    John Pettigrew had 136 yards on 24 carries Saturday against Eastern Michigan.

    The Blade/Andy Morrison
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    Bowling Green's John Pettigrew gained 136 yards on 24 carries in a victory against Eastern Michigan.

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John Pettigrew had 136 yards on 24 carries Saturday against Eastern Michigan.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
Enlarge | Buy This Image

BOWLING GREEN — The Bowl­ing Green State Univer­sity foot­ball team en­tered Satur­day’s game against Eastern Mich­i­gan mi­nus ar­gu­ably its top of­fen­sive player, run­ning back An­thon Samuel.

“We just said, ‘JP, it’s your game,’ ” BG coach Dave Claw­son said of se­nior run­ning back John Pet­ti­grew. “And he did enough for us to win.”

Pet­ti­grew posted a ca­reer-high 136 yards on 24 car­ries while catch­ing a pair of passes for 21 yards to ably re­place Samuel in the Fal­cons’ 24-3 vic­tory at Doyt Perry Sta­dium.

“Once I found out it was my turn to start, I was ex­cited,” Pet­ti­grew said. “I knew I had to come out with a fo­cus, to be ready to play to step up to the chal­lenge.”

While Pet­ti­grew came into the game sec­ond on the team in rush­ing with 252 yards, his ac­tion be­fore Satur­day’s con­test had fo­cused on short-yard­age plays.

“It was ex­cited to be a part of a wide range of plays,” he said. “I was happy to help my team in this game.”

Not only was the se­nior’s rush­ing to­tal a ca­reer high, it eclipsed the 92 yards he had posted in his three pre­vi­ous sea­sons at BG.

“I couldn’t be hap­pier for John,” Claw­son said. “He was a highly re­cruited guy out of high school. He didn’t nec­es­sar­ily put in the work dur­ing his first two years here, but the last two years he has.

“As a coach, it’s great to see a guy who has re­ally worked for ev­ery­thing he has achieved. He has be­come a re­ally good player for us.”

Samuel suf­fered a back in­jury in the first half at UMass last week. While he re­turned to that game in the sec­ond half, the in­jury lim­ited his prac­tice time this week.

“He tried to prac­tice Thurs­day, but he just didn’t feel good,” Claw­son said of Samuel. “Could he have played? Maybe. But I just didn’t want to take a chance, play him, and maybe lose him long-term.”

Be­sides Pet­ti­grew, the Fal­cons got con­tri­bu­tions at run­ning back from Jor­dan Hop­good, who fin­ished with 61 yards rush­ing and also com­pleted a 53-yard touch­down pass to Shaun Jop­lin, and fresh­man An­dre Giv­ens, who ran for 29 yards, in­clud­ing a 27-yard TD run in the first quar­ter, be­fore suf­fer­ing a scary in­jury.

Giv­ens was tack­led hard mid­way through the third pe­riod and wasn’t able to re­turn to his feet. An am­bu­lance came onto the field to take Giv­ens to Wood County Hos­pi­tal, but he was re­leased early Satur­day eve­ning.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Most weeks, the ef­fort Satur­day by se­nior de­fense tackle Chris Jones would earn him Mid-Amer­i­can Con­fer­ence East Divi­sion de­fen­sive player of the week hon­ors.

But even though Jones had 2.5 sacks and a fum­ble re­turn for a touch­down, he wasn’t even the top player on his own team’s de­fense.

“[Gabe Mar­tin] got a turn­over and cre­ated a turn­over, had the same amount of sacks and more tack­les,” Jones said. “It’s got to be Gabe.”

Mar­tin forced the fum­ble that led to the TD by Jones and also had an in­ter­cep­tion to go with his seven tack­les, which in­cluded 2.5 sacks.

Mar­tin con­fessed that the in­ter­cep­tion came when Eastern Mich­i­gan quar­ter­back Tyler Benz ba­si­cally threw the ball di­rectly to him.

“I’m go­ing to go out on a limb and say I took a good drop,” Mar­tin said. “I looked back at the re­ceiver, and that sped my drop a lit­tle bit. But then I turned back, and voila.”

“It was a Christ­mas pres­ent, but I’ll take it.”

Mar­tin was dip­lo­matic when asked who BG’s player of the week nom­i­nee on de­fense would be.

“I guess we’ve got to wait and see,” he said.

JONES FOR PREZ? Among the signs at the Doyt Satur­day was two that hyped Jones for Pres­i­dent and the Heis­man Tro­phy.

“Those were my bud­dies who brought the signs,” Jones ad­mit­ted, who then was asked with award he would pre­fer. “If I have to choose one, I’ll take the Heis­man. Pres­i­dent is too much for me — I’m in foot­ball right now.”

MONTGOMERY OUT: Soph­o­more TE-DE Ken­dall Mont­gom­ery was sus­pended one game for a vi­o­la­tion of team rules. He was not in uni­form for Satur­day’s game.

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