Josh Pettus, 22, seen here earlier this season, came up big when he replaced injured safety BooBoo Gates in Wednesday night's win at Ohio University.
The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
ATHENS, Ohio — The Bowling Green State University football team looked to be in trouble when Ohio took the opening kickoff of Wednesday’s game and drove 72 yards for a touchdown.
Things looked even more grim when BG’s starting safety, BooBoo Gates, came to the sidelines with ankle problems, and Josh Pettus was pressed into service as his replacement.
But both Pettus and the defense came through in the Falcons’ 26-14 victory.
BG held the Bobcats in check, limiting OU to just 244 yards of total offense. And Pettus finished with a game-high 11 tackles, including five solo stops, in his most extensive action of the season.
“All week long guys were telling me, ‘Your number is going to be called,’ and you never know when,” Pettus said. “I kept my head in it. I was ready.
“When [Gates] went down, he came to me and said, ‘Step up and keep going hard.’ And that’s what I did.”
Those 11 tackles doubled the total Pettus had in seven previous games for Bowling Green.
“If BooBoo Gates wasn’t such a good player, [Pettus] would play a lot more,” Falcons coach Dave Clawson said. “That’s why we give him reps in practice.
“Josh Pettus had a great week of practice, and he stepped in and was ready to go for us.”
The Falcons defense also stepped up, holding in check an Ohio offense that came into the game averaging 35.6 points and 462.2 yards per game.
“They are a very good offense — it’s not by accident that they are scoring more than 35 points per game,” Clawson said. “We knew they were going to make plays.
“But I was very proud of the way our defense stepped up and made plays. … Our guys got off blocks and made plays in space, we defended them better.”
Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton, who came into the game averaging 237.5 yards passing a game, finished with just 145 passing yards against the Falcons. And Bobcats running back Beau Blankenship, who averaged 121.9 yards a game before the contest, had 97 yards on 18 carries.
“We came in here and felt we had something to prove,” defensive back Jude Adjei-Barimah said. “All week we heard about Blankenship and Tettleton and how great their offense is.”
One thing the Falcons did especially well is limit the running of Tettleton, who was sacked four times, had just one of his 14 runs cover more than five yards, and finished with minus-9 yards rushing for the game.
“On defense I thought we did a great job of limiting their play-action game,” Clawson added.
“That’s been a really dangerous part of what they do, and for the most part we covered them well, especially in the back end.”
Now the Falcons prepare for a showdown for the top spot in the Mid-American Conference’s East Division when BG hosts Kent State at Doyt Perry Stadium on Nov. 17.
“I’m just glad to be with this team,” Pettus said.
“If we keep working hard going forward, we’re going to bring home a MAC Championship.”
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