BOWLING GREEN — Bowling Green State University football coach Dave Clawson was nervous about his team’s game against Murray State Saturday.
His Falcons were coming off a disappointing loss at Indiana last week, a game that was a lopsided thrashing. While the Racers are an FCS school, they had shown the ability to score against anybody.
“When you play these games, as a coach you love that they’re on the schedule — but you hate them the week that you play them,” he said. “Your stomach has pits because you want to make sure your team takes [its opponent] seriously and prepares the way it should prepare.”
Clawson needed no antacid Saturday as his Falcons pounded Murray State 48-7 at Doyt Perry Stadium.
Offensively BG rolled to 660 yards of total offense, split between 282 yards rushing and 378 passing, to score on six of its first eight possessions.
“It was tough [to put last week behind us] because last week was a struggle offensively,” said running back Travis Greene, who ran for 133 yards and a touchdown. “Basically we over-thought the game. We thought it was going to come easy to us.
“This week we got back to the basics, and that made the difference.”
Meanwhile the Falcons defense throttled an opponent that came into the game averaging 46 points and 432 yards per game. BG limited the Racers to 312 yards of total offense, and their lone touchdown came when they trailed by 34 points.
“All week the coaches talked about getting back to basics,” said linebacker D.J. Lynch, who led the Falcons with eight tackles. “We’ve been trying to find an identity — we’ve played well one half, and one have we’ve taken off.
“We wanted to have a game where we had both sides of the ball play well for four quarters.
“We know if we do that, we can be a really good team.”
BG (3-1 overall) scored first on a four-yard TD pass from Matt Johnson to Chris Gallon with 7:40 to play in the opening period, but Johnson threw an interception on the Falcons next possession. Murray State (2-2) seemed poised to score when it drove to the BG 5, but Paul Senn forced Racers quarterback Maikhail Miller to fumble and Paul Swan recovered it on the 1.
“That was a huge momentum swing, to get a defensive stop in the red zone,” Lynch said. “Nothing is better than a turnover in the red zone
“The offense thinks they’re going to go down and score, and when you make them turn it over it’s a huge momentum swing. It’s a crusher.”
Then the offense ground out an 11-play, 99-yard drive that resulted in an 8-yard touchdown run by Travis Greene less than three minutes into the second quarter. The Falcons ran the ball nine times for 73 yards on the drive, with Greene accounting for 51 yards on four rushes.
“That was the offensive line imposing its will on their defensive line,” Johnson said of that drive. “It also was Travis and Andre [Givens] running well.
“The first three or four plays we ran the ball to get the ball out of our end zone. … When we got some breathing room, we were able to throw the ball.”
Bowling Green was rolling from that point, scoring two more touchdowns in the first half. Johnson found the end zone from seven yards out midway through the period, and he then finished a 16-yard, 97-yard drive with a one-yard TD toss to Gallon.
The Falcons also scored on their first two drives of the second half, and Johnson finished with 244 yards passing after connecting on 19-of-22 passes.
“That’s hard to do against the scout team. That’s hard to do against air,” Clawson said of Johnson’s 86.4 percent completion mark, the fifth-best total in school history.
It all came together into a third lopsided victory for the Falcons, who have outscored the opposition 123-36 in their three wins this season.
“When we’re able to put at least 40 points on the board, and the defense holds the other team to seven points, that’s a fantastic day no matter who you are playing,” Johnson said.