Falcons’ offensive line gels tough after rough first half

BGSU scored 21 unanswered points in 2nd half

Bowling Green defensive end Bryan Thomas, left, sacks Akron quarterback Kyle Pohl during Saturday’s game.
Bowling Green defensive end Bryan Thomas, left, sacks Akron quarterback Kyle Pohl during Saturday’s game.

BOWLING GREEN — Not much good could be said about the play of Bowling Green’s offensive line in the first half on Saturday against Akron.

The Zips, who came into the game with nine sacks in four games, had six sacks in the first half. That was a major reason the Falcons found themselves trailing a team that had lost its previous 28 consecutive road games.

In the second half the O-line came together and helped BG score 21 unanswered points in a 31-14 victory at Doyt Perry Stadium. The Falcons didn’t allow another sack and piled up 238 yards of total offense to give BG its fifth straight win in the series.

“In the second half we showed what we can do, and the offensive line across the board took us on their back,” said BG quarterback Matt Johnson. “Clay Rolf coming in for the first time, other than mop-up duty, played great, and that was huge.”

Rolf came in to replace Jacob Bennett at left tackle and played well. It was an impressive performance for the 6-foot-6, 285-pound junior from Eastwood High School.

“I’m going to be very surprised if [the film doesn’t show] he played well,” BG coach Dave Clawson said of Rolf. “He wasn’t perfect … but I have such respect for players such as Clay Rolf. They don’t come here and play as a freshman — and have things come easy. We switched his position, and every day he comes to practice with a great attitude. He got a shot to play, and we came back and scored 21 points with Clay Rolf playing tackle for us.”

ARM STRENGTH: Johnson completed all 11 of his passes in the second half Saturday, and the most impressive was his 30-yard touchdown "pass" to Travis Greene late in the third quarter.

It was a pass in name only: Johnson set up a screen that he shoveled to Greene — an option pitch that covered at least eight yards — and Greene broke through traffic for the score.

“The defensive end was in the way, so I moved a little bit to my left,” Johnson said. “It was a little bit of an awkward pass, but thankfully it worked.”

GREENE DAY: Greene finished with his third rushing game above 100 yards, carrying the ball 24 times for 142 yards and a TD. He also caught four passes for 71 yards and a score, all three career-highs for the sophomore from Monsignor Pace High School in Miami.

“It took him three years, and I’ll bet it was tough for him to watch his high school teammate, Anthon [Samuel], have instant success,” Clawson said. “Travis just worked and bided his time, and when he got his opportunity he took advantage of it.”

Greene now has 551 yards and three TDs on 98 carries in five games, and he said he thrives on the work.

“Coach asks me every Sunday, ‘How are you feeling?’” Greene said. “I always tell him, ‘I’m feeling good.’ My body’s not tired. I could play four more quarters.”

JOP IS TOPS: Senior wide receiver Shaun Joplin finished with five catches for 78 yards to lead BG in all three categories. After dropping the first pass thrown to him, Joplin caught three passes in the first half, including a 22-yard slant for the Falcons’ lone TD of the half.

“The entire offense came up to him and said, ‘We’re going to keep throwing to you. Keep your head up,’” Johnson said. “His play right before halftime was great.”

TACKLE STATS: Senior cornerback Aaron Foster had a busy day, finishing with a team-high 10 tackles, including one tackle for loss. Foster also broke up three passes.

BooBoo Gates was next with seven tackles, five of which came in the first quarter, while Ryland Ward, D.J. Lynch, and Gabe Martin all had five stops.

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