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Battered BG line holds together at Buffalo

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Bowling Green's offensive line held up well in its matchup against Buffalo despite missing three starters.

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AMHERST, N.Y. – Fans of the Bowling Green State University football team cannot be blamed if they did not recognize the five members of their starting offensive line in the Falcons’ contest against the University at Buffalo Tuesday.

But the five starters – tackles Ryan Hunter and Austin Labus, guards Tim Blair and John Kurtz, and center Caleb Bright – deserve recognition for their performance in their team’s 38-28 loss.

The patchwork line, which was missing three starters and a top reserve, managed to hold together as BG posted 394 yards of total offense.

“My hat’s off to our offensive line – they battled,” BG coach Mike Jinks said. “We had two or three guys in the heart of it [who were playing for the first time], and they gave us everything they had.

“They gave us an opportunity to win – we didn’t lose this game because we were playing three new guys on the offensive line. This wasn’t on them.”

RELATED: Falcons give up nearly 600 yards in loss at Buffalo.

Starting guards Jack Kramer and Lorenzo Taborn were not in uniform for the contest. And while starting center Tim McAuliffe and one of the team’s top back-ups, Clark Clancy, were in uniform, the plan was to use them only in an emergency.

That was not necessary, although Labus appeared to struggle with an injury during the contest. The “Iron Five” played all 73 offensive snaps for the Falcons.

While Hunter was making his 36th career start for Bowling Green, the other four starters had a combined 18 career starts. And 12 of those belong to Labus; Blair, a redshirt freshman, and Kurtz were making their first career start, while Bright, also a redshirt freshman, started for the fourth time.

“Every day in practice they come out and work extremely hard – as if they are the starters,” wide receiver Scottie Miller said. “They showed all the hard work they put in, and they did a good job.”

Quarterback Jarret Doege was sacked three times, but the offense did finish with 176 rushing yards as true freshman Andrew Clair ran for 85 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

“As the game went on, those guys got in synch a little bit and created some creases,” Jinks said. “But a lot of it was Andrew creating on his own.”

The contest also was the first career start for Clair.

RELATED: After making a kick for a scholarship, Jake Suder has had a big season for the Falcons.

CAPTAINS: The Falcons captains for the contest were senior kickoff specialist Nick Fields, senior wide receiver Trevor Roop, junior defensive end David Konowalski and junior safety Fred Garth.

Contact John Wagner at jwagner@theblade.com419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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