Falcons feel fortunate after Tulsa victory

34-7 score not indicative of mostly back-and-forth game

Bowling Green State University defenders Jerry
Bowling Green State University defenders Jerry "BooBoo" Gates (24) Bryan Thomas (43), and Zach Colvin (92) bring down University of Tulsa running back Ja'Terian Douglas (25) during the first quarter.

BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University football team routed Tulsa 34-7 in its season-opening contest at Doyt Perry Stadium Thursday.

But is “rout” the right word to describe the Falcons victory? Not exactly, said BG coach Dave Clawson.

“It was probably closer than the score indicated,” he said Monday. “[Tulsa] missed two field goals, and they fumbled on our 2 going in [for a touchdown]. We had a couple of short fields and a punt return for a touchdown.

“If you look at it, it went back-and-forth and was a pretty tight game. We made some big plays and cashed in on our red zone opportunities, and we were fortunate to get the win.”

The Falcons led 6-0 at halftime, thanks in part to a stout defensive effort and the missed opportunities Clawson mentioned.

In the third quarter BG scored on its first possession, then broke the game open with three quick touchdowns in the final period to pull away.

BG scored all five times it was in the red zone, including three touchdowns, while Tulsa was 0-for-3 in the red zone.

The Bowling Green defense was impressive against the Golden Hurricane, allowing just 51 yards rushing and 273 yards of total offense. The Falcons special teams also were outstanding, returning a punt for a touchdown, forcing a fumble that led to a TD, and stuffing a fake punt to set up a third score. 

Bowling Green State University player Ryan Burbrink (17) runs back a punt for a touchdown during the fourth quarter.
Bowling Green State University player Ryan Burbrink (17) runs back a punt for a touchdown during the fourth quarter.

PAIR HONORED: Freshman running back William Houston was named Mid-American Conference East Division offensive player of the week, while sophomore Ryan Burbrink was named MAC East special teams player of the week.

Houston scored three touchdowns, all on one-yard runs, in the second half of the Falcons’ win over Tulsa. He carried the ball 10 times for 29 yards, with two other runs picking up first downs.

Burbrink returned three punts for 76 yards, including a 67-yard return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Burbrink also caught a pair of passes for 24 yards in the Falcons’ season-opening win.

Burbrink was named the College Football Performance Awards national punt returner of the week for his efforts. 

DEPTH CHART: The Falcons escaped Thursday’s game relatively unscathed.

Defensive end Charlie Walker, who left the game early after suffering a knee sprain, remains on the depth chart for the game against the Golden Flashes.

Running back Jordan Hopgood, who also sees extensive action on special teams, remains available despite a neck strain.

Safety Josh Pettus, who was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules, has returned to the two-deep for Saturday’s game.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.