BOWLING GREEN — Bowling Green State University football coach Dave Clawson has determined his starting quarterback for the Falcons game at Kent State next week.
“Right now, if I had to guess, I would say Matt would start,” he said after the Falcons’ 34-7 win Thursday over Tulsa at Doyt Perry Stadium. “But I could say Matt will start all year — and you guys won’t know what I’m talking about.”
That’s because senior Matt Schilz started against the Golden Hurricane, but sophomore Matt Johnson took over on the third drive of game and led the Falcons the rest of the way.
“I was a little nervous,” Johnson admitted. “But after I took the first hit and after I completed my first pass, I settled down a little bit.
“A couple of throws got away from me because of the adrenaline, but in the third and fourth quarter I became more confident in myself and felt I was more in control.”
After replacing Schilz, who completed 1 of 4 passes for 12 yards, Johnson directed the Falcons on a nine-play, 41-yard drive that ended with a 34-yard field goal by Tyler Tate.
“When we put Matt in, I thought he gave us a spark,” Clawson said. “He made some plays with his feet, and once he got us moving, we stuck with him because he was the hot hand.”
Clawson said he didn’t want to pull Johnson out of the game after he threw an interception two series later.
“I didn’t want him to think that if he made one mistake, we were going to pull him,” Clawson said. “He played through [the game] well and made some good decisions, and the plays he made through his feet at the end of the first half were good plays.”
Johnson, who completed 6 of 16 passes in the first half for 84 yards and ran six times for 43 yards, said the defense tried to motivate the offense.
“They were saying, ‘All we need is a touchdown,’ ” Johnson said. “And we came out with guns blazing.”
After taking the second-half kickoff and getting a first down, a penalty forced the Falcons into a first-and-25 situation on their 20. Johnson completed an 11-yard pass to Chris Gallon and a 19-yard strike to Shaun Joplin for the first down.
Ronnie Moore took a sweep 37 yards on the next play, and William Houston capped the six-play, 75-yard drive with the first of his three 1-yard TD plunges.
Johnson led the Falcons on two short TD drives after that, and he finished the game completing 11 of 23 passes for 151 yards.
Clawson said Johnson holds an edge over Schilz to start Sept. 7. “We’re going to need both,” he said. “We need to keep Matt Schilz going, because he’s a good player and we’ll need him.”