BOWLING GREEN — The tone for the Bowling Green State University football team’s scrimmage Sunday was set on the first play.
Falcon freshman Ronnie Moore caught the kickoff two yards into the end zone at Doyt Perry Stadium, took advantage of some strong blocking, and suddenly burst free to race 102 yards for a touchdown.
While there were times the defense held the advantage in the scrimmage, which included roughly 150 plays, there was plenty of offense: Four touchdown passes, four running TDs, and a second kickoff return that would have resulted in a touchdown had there not been a penalty, not to mention three field goals.
“That’s as good as our offense has looked against our first defense in three years,” Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said. “We played a lot of younger skill guys last year, and we needed them to take the next step.
“I thought our offensive skill guys made some explosive plays.”
Moore was one of the young players who stood out offensively, as he added two catches for 30 yards and 37 rushing yards on a pair of jet sweeps.
Two others were freshman running backs Marcus Levy, who had 50 yards on 10 rushes with a TD while also catching a 9-yard TD pass, and Fred Coppet, who added 48 yards on just seven carries and also had several electrifying runs.
And William Houston, a 6-0, 262-pound freshman, was tough to stop on short yardage and finished with 34 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 12 rushing attempts.
“Ronnie Moore is fast. Coppet is fast. And Marcus Levy is shifty,” senior offensive guard Dominic Flewellyn said. “And Houston is a load.
“They came out here and started working, which we like. They have been making big plays in practice, and it was good to show them [making big plays] in the scrimmage.”
Even senior linebacker Paul Swan, who joined the rest of the defense trying to slow down the young players, admitted afterwards that the young skill players did well.
“They look great,” Swan said. “We expected some freshmen to come in and help us out this year, and those three are looking good.
“They make plays out here. They’re explosive, they’re fast. It’s encouraging to see freshmen come out here and play like that.”
The scrimmage itself, which included 24 series of offense versus defense, included a number of "situational" drives — three drives that began with the offense pushing out of its own end zone from the 1-yard line, three drives that simulated an overtime, and several other situations.
The offense managed to piece together six drives that covered at least 60 yards and resulted in touchdowns.
“Last week we had some drives we didn’t finish, and this week we finished drives,” Flewellyn said. “We were productive both running the ball and throwing the ball.”
Sunday was the final installment of the quarterback battle between senior Matt Schilz and sophomore Matt Johnson.
Johnson completed 11-of-17 passes for 95 yards but had three touchdown tosses. Schilz connected on 12-of-18 for 116 yards but no scores. Schilz did run the ball four times for 20 yards and a TD and also led a second touchdown drive.
Clawson said the starter for the opener at the Doyt against Tulsa on Aug. 29 will be announced Tuesday.
NOTES: Junior cornerback Darrell Hunter has suffered a wrist injury that forced him out of Sunday’s scrimmage, and his status for the season opener is uncertain. … Also kept out of Sunday’s scrimmage was sophomore cornerback Will Watson (hamstring) and senior running back Jordan Hopgood (knee). Both are expected to be available for the opener. … Because of the injury to Hunter and the transfer of cornerback DeVon McKoy, sophomore Diontre Delk and junior Brian Sutton have moved to cornerback. Delk was a wide receiver, while Sutton was playing rover.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.