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Published: Tuesday, 11/26/2013

Defense anchors BG in MAC division race

Clawson credits improved depth

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Bowling Green’s Brian Sutton tackles Mississippi State’s Jameon Lewis. Sutton led the Falcons with five tackles last week. Bowling Green’s Brian Sutton tackles Mississippi State’s Jameon Lewis. Sutton led the Falcons with five tackles last week.
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BOWLING GREEN — As a rule, football coaches are the toughest film critics.

No matter how well a team may play, coaches can find faults. And even though the Bowling Green State University football team put together a dominating effort in a 58-7 win at Eastern Michigan, coach Dave Clawson said the film exposed a few blemishes.

“We’re coaches, that’s what we look for,” Clawson said. “A safety may have taken a poor angle on a [pass], but things like that happen in every game.”

That defense has BG in position to capture the Mid-American Conference’s East Division. The Falcons (8-3, 6-1 MAC) travel to Buffalo (8-3, 6-1) for a 1:30 p.m. game Friday.

No. 14-ranked Northern Illinois (11-0, 7-0) awaits the winner in the MAC championship game on Dec. 6 at Ford Field in Detroit.

Against the Eagles last week, the BG defense allowed just 65 yards of total offense and didn’t give up a touchdown.

The Falcons’ domination of EMU included allowing just four first downs while forcing the Eagles to 12 three-and-outs in 14 drives (the other two drives lasted four plays). Eastern Michigan ran exactly one of its 44 plays on BG’s side of the field.

What made the effort more impressive is that Bowling Green was playing with its third-team rover, Brian Sutton — who led the team with five tackles — and also didn’t have nickel back Jude Adjei-Barimah.

“Anybody who is on the two-deep is a play away from being the starter,” Clawson said. “We’ve reached a point in November where you may be on your third or fourth guy [at a position].

“I talked about this years ago: We needed to develop depth so that when the starters got hurt, there wasn’t a huge dropoff in our play.”

Bowling Green’s impressive effort included strong play by younger players such as redshirt freshman defensive lineman Izaah Lunsford, whose four tackles included three for a loss.

“That was encouraging because when he had that opportunity earlier in the year, he didn’t play well,” Clawson said of Lunsford. “He didn’t get lined up [right], and … we were giving up touchdowns late because guys like him weren’t ready to go. They thought they were ready to go, but they weren’t.

“To see him go out there in the second half and know how to line up, use the correct technique, and make plays was very exciting to me. That’s the future of the program.”

MOORE HONORED: Freshman wide receiver Ronnie Moore was named MAC East Division offensive player of the week for his efforts at Eastern Michigan.

Moore caught seven passes for 161 yards and three touchdowns, all career highs. The Sanford, Fla., native had touchdown catches of 74 and 22 yards in the first quarter and added a 34-yard scoring strike from Matt Johnson just before halftime.

Moore also ran the ball twice for 18 yards.

BAD MEMORIES: The Falcons’ regular-season finale against Buffalo will be played at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

The contest marks the ninth different NFL stadium the Falcons have played in, joining Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.; Heinz Field in Pittsburgh; Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia; Ford Field in Detroit; Cleveland Browns Stadium; Raymond James Stadium in Tampa; the Metrodome in Minneapolis; and RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

One of the few members of the program to have played at Wilson Stadium is Clawson, who quarterbacked his Lewiston Porter High School team in a 1983 game against Williamsville South at the stadium, which was then called Rich Stadium.

“It’s not a great memory because I threw three interceptions,” Clawson admitted. “Hopefully our quarterback will be a lot more accurate than I was 30 years ago.”

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



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