BOWLING GREEN — For the second week in a row the Bowling Green State University football team put on a dominating performance in a mid-week Mid-American Conference game.
One week after crushing Miami, the Falcons bludgeoned Ohio 49-0 at Doyt Perry Stadium Tuesday night.
The BG offense rolled to 460 yards of total offense, balanced nicely between 207 yards rushing and 253 passing, and scored touchdowns on their first four possessions for the team’s highest point total since 2010.
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Meanwhile the Falcons defense limited the Bobcats to just 172 yards in posting the program’s first shutout since a 24-0 win at UMass on Oct. 20 of last season.
“It was 49-0. I had an interception. It was a game to remember,” senior safety BooBoo Gates said of the final home game for BG’s senior class.
With the victory Bowling Green improved to 7-3 overall and 5-1 in the Mid-American Conference. The Falcons’ victory, combined with Buffalo’s loss at Toledo, lifted BG into a first-place tie in the MAC’s East Division.
Ohio falls to 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the MAC.
“I had a really good feeling the last 48 hours [leading up to the game],” Falcons coach Dave Clawson said. “In the meetings the guys were locked in, the walk-throughs were good.
“And we carried it to the field.”
Bowling Green stuffed Ohio on its first drive, then needed just two plays to score. Matt Johnson connected with Shaun Joplin on a 43-yard deep pass, and Travis Greene followed up with an 11-yard TD run with slightly more than two minutes gone in the first period.
And that set the tone for the first half: The Falcons defense would stuff the OU offense, and BG’s offense would roll down the field and score.
“All year our problem has been that we couldn’t start fast,” said quarterback Matt Johnson, who completed 12-of-17 passes for 229 yards and two TDs. “But when our defense is playing at a high tempo like they were, and they were able to get the ball back to us quickly, and the offense can turn field position into points, that will get you off to a fast start.”
The Bobcats’ second drive was a three-and-out that included a near-blocked punt by the Falcons that gave BG the ball on Ohio’s 32.
Bowling Green’s second drive lasted one play, as Johnson threw down the middle to Heath Jackson, who out-fought two defenders to catch a 32-yard touchdown pass with 11:49 still to play in the first quarter.
After another three-and-out by the Bobcats, Bowling Green ground out an 11-play, 72-yard drive that was capped by a one-yard TD plunge by William Houston.
That made the score 21-0 Falcons with 3:02 still to play in the opening period. It marked the first time BG scored 21 points in the first quarter since putting 28 on Morgan State on Sept. 10, 2011.
Another three-and-out by Ohio was followed by a punt that gave BG the ball on its 39, and the Falcons ground out another long drive that used nine plays to cover 61 yards, with Houston again scoring from a yard out.
Bowling Green had one more first-half touchdown, which came after Paul Swan forced an Ohio fumble that Ryland Ward recovered on the BG 40. The Falcons pounded out one more scoring drive, this one taking eight plays to travel 60 yards, with Greene scoring his second TD of the night on a 16-yard run.
Greene finished with 149 yards rushing and two scores on 22 carries.
How dominant were the Falcons in the first half? Bowling Green rolled to 324 yards of total offense in the first half, including 170 yards and four TDs rushing.
Meanwhile the Falcons limited Ohio to just 44 yards of total offense on 20 plays, including just 15 rushing yards on eight carries.
Bowling Green put the lid on the win by scoring on the opening drive of the second half. The key play was a pass by Johnson to a wide-open Alex Bayer down the far sideline, with Bayer rumbling 57 yards for a touchdown.
Early in the fourth quarter the Bobcats drove to BG’s 26, but Gates intercepted a Tyler Tettleton pass and rumbled 82 yards to set up a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Schilz to Ronnie Moore.
Gates’ interception return tied for the third-longest in Bowling Green history.
The only tense moments in the fourth quarter came when Ohio drove to BG’s 16 in the final minutes. But a third-down sack by Mike Minns and Terrance Bush pushed the Bobcats back to the 26, and a fourth-down pass was incomplete to preserve the shutout.
“I was next to coach Clawson, and I said, ‘If they get a first down, I think we should go out there,’” said Gates, who finished with five tackles, second only to Cam Truss with seven. “But I was happy to see them get the job done.
“It showed that they care of us, and they wanted to get [the shutout] done for us.”