BG tailback John Pettigrew, right, celebrates his TD with fullback Tyler Beck on Friday in Columbus.
THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
COLUMBUS — Crew Stadium got generally good reviews after hosting its first Division I football game.
“This is a nice venue, it really is,” Bowling Green State University football coach Dave Clawson said after his team’s 21-7 win over Buffalo on Friday. “When [the idea of moving the game here] initially came up, you hate to give up a home game.
“But if this game was played at Doyt Perry Stadium we wouldn’t have had nearly the crowd we had. [I give a] shout out to all the Bowling Green fans and alums in this area that organized this and got the people out.
“That was a much, much better crowd than we would have had in Bowling Green.”
The crowd was announced at 11,846 for the contest, and there were at least 5,000 fans in the building, which has a listed capacity of 20,145 as home for the Major Soccer League’s Columbus Crew.
“I thought it was a great atmosphere,” BG athletics director Greg Christopher said. “Thanks to our Columbus-area fans for coming out. The Crew were terrific partners, and our staff put in a lot of time and effort into it.”
Two years ago a 2-10 Bowling Green team hosted Western Michigan in similar conditions — cold, with temperatures in the low 40s and brisk winds making it seem colder. That game at Doyt Perry Stadium drew an announced crowd of 5,121 that was significantly smaller.
Friday’s contest was a homecoming for Columbus natives such as Ryland Ward, who graduated from Brookhaven High School.
“It felt good,” Ward said. “I heard a lot of screams and saw a lot of coaches and friends. But it feels better coming here with my team — and coming away with the win.”
Christopher said BG will assess this maiden voyage to Columbus, noting that the Falcons probably won’t play a home game on “Black Friday” next season.
“I think [we will assess] the fan experience, and the engagement of the Columbus market and our fans down here,” he said.
“But we have two years before we decide whether to do something like this again."
WOODS GOES WILD: BG senior linebacker Dwayne Woods finished with six tackles in the game, and four of them resulted in negative yardage.
Woods, who finished sixth in the nation with 134 tackles as a sophomore, now has 60 tackles in 11 games this year. His two sacks against the Bulls were his first sacks this season.
“I think this year people said, ‘What’s wrong with him?’ ” Clawson said of Woods. “Nothing was wrong with Dwayne. We just got so much better around him.
“The sign of a good team defense is you don’t have a guy with 140 tackles. … This year other guys have improved. We were so much less reliant on Dwayne making every play.”
UNEVEN PERFORMANCE: BG junior quarterback Matt Schilz had a performance Friday that Clawson called “very uneven.”
Schilz completed 18 of 30 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw three interceptions, including a pick that led to Buffalo’s lone touchdown.
“I thought in the first half he played really, really well, but in the second half, not so well,” Clawson said of Schilz, who connected on 14 of 21 passes for 196 yards in the first half. “He made the touchdown run with his feet, but for a third-year quarterback in your program to throw that interception on the screen — you just can’t make that play.
“If you’re a quarterback playing with a lead, you just can’t make that throw.”
THREE-DOT DATA: The eight wins are the most for the Falcons in the regular season since the 2007 team also went 8-4. … Schilz now ranks third in BG history with 7,673 passing yards. … The Falcons’ seven sacks were a season high, surpassing the six against Miami.