Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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BG’s Johnson honored after impressive win

BOWLING GREEN — Bowling Green State University quarterback Matt Johnson had a pretty good birthday on Monday.

Two days after Johnson seemed to cement his role as the Falcons’ starting quarterback with an outstanding performance in the win at Kent State, the native of Harrisburg, Pa., received a pair of honors.

Johnson was named Mid-American Conference East Division offensive player of the week after completing 19 of 25 passes for 357 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 41-22 victory over the Golden Flashes. He also finished with 17 yards rushing while directing BG to scores on six of its first seven drives.

“He ran the offense well; he managed the offense well,” Falcons coach Dave Clawson said. “He made plays with his feet, and he was extremely accurate throwing the football. He was 19 for 25, and he had three passes dropped.

“He played with a lot of poise inside the pocket, and he made a lot of plays outside the pocket. For his first game as a starter, he played extremely well.”

Johnson also was one of eight quarterbacks nationally who was named “stars of the week” by the Manning Award, given annually to honor the top quarterback in college football.

“We were certainly excited at how he progressed from week one to Week 2,” Clawson said. “The challenge is to do that every week. Playing that position is so hard, so we have to keep him progressing and keep developing.”

Some of the credit for Johnson’s performance goes to Bowling Green’s receivers. Shaun Joplin led the way with six catches good for 113 yards.

“I thought our receivers played very well,” Clawson said. “Shaun Joplin had one of the better games of his career. He didn’t have 10 or 12 catches, but he made a lot of big plays.

“He converted a lot of third downs, and the big catch he made right before the half on the fade was a big-time play.”

But the Southview product wasn’t the only pass-catcher who played well. Chris Gallon and tight end Alex Bayer each had four receptions, with Bayer gaining 52 yards and Gallon 45.

One of Ryan Burbrink’s two catches was good for 92 yards, the third-longest pass play in school history, while Tyler Beck added a 41-yard pass reception. Jared Cohen also caught a seven-yard pass that he turned into a touchdown.

“We got Chris Gallon more involved, and Ryan Burbrink had a good game,” Clawson said. “At the tight end position, Alex Bayer played well.

“One of the things I was happiest about in Saturday’s game is that we had a lot of different players contribute. We had five different players score touchdowns, we had guys in backup roles who stepped up and made plays when their number was called.”

NO CHANGE: Bowling Green’s two-deep for Saturday’s game at Indiana is unchanged from last week.

That means senior center David “Chief” Kekuewa, who suffered a leg injury late in the contest at KSU, is expected to play against the Hoosiers.

Two other players to watch are defensive end Charlie Walker and running back Jordan Hopgood. Neither was in uniform for the game against the Golden Flashes.

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

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