Bowling Green’s Travis Greene is chased by Eastern Michigan defenders. Greene rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns for BG.
YPSILANTI, Mich. — The Bowling Green State University football team felt its game against Eastern Michigan Saturday was a potential “trap” game.
The Falcons didn’t need to win at Rynearson Stadium to keep their Mid-American Conference East Division title hopes alive, and BG already is bowl-eligible.
BGSU NOTEBOOK: Moore elevates play after being challenged
“This was a tricky game,” Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said. “Obviously we have a big game at Buffalo Friday, so I was hoping our guys would show up and play hard and be excited to play.”
Check, check, and double check as the Falcons blitzed EMU 58-7, scoring the game’s last 55 points and dominating on both sides of the ball.
The Bowling Green offense rolled to 560 yards of total offense and scored points on nine of its first 12 possessions, while the Falcon defense surrendered just 65 yards of total offense, including just four yards passing.
As a result, the easy victory improved BG’s record to 8-3 overall and 6-1 in the MAC. The Eagles fell to 2-9 and 1-6.
There were some anxious moments at the start. Bowling Green’s first drive resulted in a 30-yard field goal by Tyler Tate, the first of three he would make.
Then on BG’s second drive quarterback Matt Johnson threw a pass that was intercepted by Eastern Michigan’s Sean Kurtz, who raced 10 yards for a score.
But the Falcons responded with a 74-yard scoring strike by Johnson to Ronnie Moore, the first of three times the pair connected for a touchdown, and the rout was on.
“We were down, so that gave us a big jump,” Moore said of that touchdown play. “Then we just kept our foot on the pedal and kept rolling.”
Johnson hit Moore with a 22-yard scoring strike just before the first quarter ended to give BG a 17-7 lead.
“I was worried that this would be one of those ‘wind’ games: When you have the wind, you’d better score,” said Clawson, noting that the game was played in winds that whipped to 20 miles per hour, making it feel much colder than the listed temperature of 27.
“It was important that we got 17 against the wind in the first quarter. Then we could open things up in the second quarter going with the wind.”
BG’s first drive of the second quarter resulted in a 34-yard Tate field goal, and an interception by Ryland Ward set up a 28-yard TD run by Travis Greene. Then Johnson found Moore with a 34-yard touchdown toss just before the half to make the score 34-7.
Greene had 93 of his 126 rushing yards by halftime, while Johnson and Moore connected five times for 147 yards in the first half. Moore finished with seven catches for 161 yards, while Johnson completed 13-of-23 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.
While Bowling Green’s offense was scoring points, the defense was “suffocating,” in Clawson’s words. The Falcons gave up just 65 yards of total offense in the contest, allowing three Eagles QBs to complete just 1-of-18 passes for four yards.
“We just loaded the box and stopped the run,” Clawson said. “We wanted to make them one-dimension[al], to force them to throw the football. … We wanted to force their quarterbacks to beat us.”
Not only did BG not give up many yards, it also forced three turnovers. Ward and Isaiah Gourdine both had interceptions, while Will Watson picked up a fumble by EMU quarterback Brogan Roback, a St. John’s Jesuit grad, and returned it 37 yards for a third-quarter score.
“[The turnovers came] from both game-planning and executing,” said Ward, who finished with four tackles. “We went out there and wanted it.
“I don’t think what [Eastern Michigan] did was their best football, but I think we wanted it more and executed well.”
By the end of the third quarter, Bowling Green was substituting liberally. As a result, reserves were able to post some big numbers. For example, running back William Houston finished with 84 yards rushing and a TD on just seven carries, while defensive lineman Izaah Lunsford posted four tackles, including three for loss.
Clawson said wins such as Saturdays are good for morale.
“It’s great to give carries to William Houston and Andre Givens,” Clawson said. “It’s great to play James Knapke at quarterback.
“[On defense] it’s great for Izaah Lunsford to make plays. It’s great to see Isaiah Gourdine make a pick, and to see Will Watson scoop a fumble and score. These guys are important for the future of our program.”