BOWLING GREEN — As if the news from the Bowling Green State University football team’s season-opening loss at Western Kentucky was not bad enough, another bombshell dropped Wednesday.
The Falcons announced that starting quarterback Matt Johnson suffered an injury to his right hip in the loss to the Hilltoppers and will miss the rest of the season.
“I told the docs and coaches I felt something [happen in the second quarter], but I just thought it was sore,” Johnson said Wednesday.
“It was nagging me the rest of the game, but I told the training staff I could finish the game, and we would deal with it afterwards.”
Johnson, who has not practiced with the team since Friday, said he found out late in the day Tuesday the injury was serious enough to end his season.
“[Tuesday] was hard to deal with,” he said. “My dad was here to help me through it, and the coaching staff has been outstanding.
“People on campus, tweets and texts from people at home have been telling me they hope for a speedy recovery. And it has helped knowing that people are behind you.
“But it’s tough to deal with, playing a game that you love and knowing that it has been taken away from you for a year.”
Last season Johnson took over the starter’s job in the season opener and led the Falcons to a 10-4 record and Mid-American Conference championship. He completed 237-of-369 passes for 3,467 yards with 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The loss of Johnson means redshirt sophomore James Knapke will become the starter for the Falcons when they host Virginia Military Institute at Doyt Perry Stadium in the 2014 home opener Saturday, with kickoff set for 3:30 p.m.
True freshman Cody Calloway will serve as Knapke’s backup.
“[Tuesday] night [Knapke] was working with the first team as the second-team quarterback,” Falcons’ coach Dino Babers said. “[Wednesday] he was working with the first team as the first-team quarterback.
“We train one quarterback, really. The back-up will get reps, but the starter gets most of the reps.”
Knapke played in six games last season, completing 4-of-10 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown.
“All college football players realize you’re just one snap away, especially at that position,” Babers said. “It’s next man up. It takes a 22-man squad to win a football championship, so we’re looking for [Knapke] to step up.”
NOTE: Senior defensive tackle Zach Colvin was the only Falcon besides Johnson not in uniform Wednesday. Babers said Colvin was ill, not injured, but his status for Saturday’s game was uncertain.