BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University football team suffered a 66-37 loss Wednesday to Toledo at Doyt Perry Stadium.
The Falcons were slapped with their eighth consecutive loss to their arch rival, falling to 2-9 overall and 2-5 in Mid-American Conference play.
Here are three things we learned from BG’s loss to the Rockets:
1. The Falcons were able to stay close to their rival — for a half.
If someone would have told BG fans their team would stay within three points of Toledo at halftime, many would have taken it. That’s exactly how things stood, as UT needed a 24-yard field goal by Jameson Vest with just 19 seconds before the half ended to lead 24-21.
After that, the deluge.
Toledo dominated the second half — and dominated might not do justice to the way the Rockets mauled Bowling Green. UT scored 14 points in the first 3 minutes, 15 seconds after halftime, 28 points in the third quarter alone, and 42 points in the second half.
Let’s be charitable and say the Falcons did not keep pace.
“Obviously we did not respond the right way,” Bowling Green coach Mike Jinks said. “It started with the opening kickoff, where we botched a ‘pooch’ kick into the wind to give them a short field — and they capitalized on it quickly.
“Then we didn’t move the ball on our drive, and they scored quickly again.”
That third-quarter meltdown was a total systems failure. Defensively, the Falcons surrendered 218 yards of total offense on just 20 plays — that’s 10.9 yards per play. While the offense did score a touchdown, BG had just 80 net yards in the quarter — and 78 came on the touchdown drive.
Even the Falcons special teams struggled as Toledo had a 30-yard kickoff return and punt returns of 16 and 9 yards for good field position.
“They came out with a mindset that they were going to be aggressive,” Jinks said. “They executed at a high level, and we didn’t tackle well — and they exploited it.”
2. For most of the season, the Falcons D has struggled to stop either the run or the pass in a particular game. Against the Rockets, BG stopped neither.
Toledo’s 637 yards of total offense included 389 yards rushing and 248 through the air. Worse, the Rockets averaged 8.7 yards per play in the game — and with 337 yards on just 30 second-half plays, UT averaged 11.2 yards per play in the second half.
The Falcons surrendered 184 yards on the ground in the first half, and Jinks said the problem stopping the run came was caused by poor tackling.
“There were several times where we had a guy 1-on-1, squared up in the hole, and we couldn’t bring him to the ground,” he said.
When Jinks was asked if the coaches thought about adding defenders to the box to stop the run, he said, “We talked about it at halftime — and they came out slinging it, and hit us over the top. There are a lot of things to fix. We are nowhere where we need to be.”
Defensive tackle Gus Schwieterman was frustrated he and his teammates struggled to stop something they knew was coming.
“We expected a lot of what we got — they didn’t run anything we didn’t see in practice,” he said. “It wasn’t like they came out and threw a whole new playbook at us.
“But give them credit: They executed well.”
Junior safety Fred Garth and senior linebacker Nate Locke each had 13 tackles to lead Bowling Green, while junior linebacker Brandon Harris had 10.
One last note on the defense, which entered the contest having forced 15 fumbles and 23 turnovers to rank among the national leaders in both categories: Toledo did not lose a turnover in the contest.
3. On offense the Falcons were too one-dimensional to stay with the Rockets.
The good news was the BG offense did score 37 points against Toledo. The bad thing was the Falcons were unbalanced on offense, throwing for 309 yards but gaining just 82 yards on the ground.
“We weren’t able to run the ball the way I would have liked,” Jinks said. “We needed to run the ball to stay on the field, and keep the ball out of their hands.”
The run total includes four sacks of true freshman quarterback Jarret Doege. But take those out, and Bowling Green still had just 116 rushing yards on 29 carries, or 4.0 yards per play. Doege said one reason almost 80 percent of the Falcons’ offense came through the air was because that was what Toledo was forcing them to do.
“They were putting a bunch of guys in the box,” he said. “When they put that many guys in the box, you throw the ball.”
Senior Josh Cleveland had 12 carries for 47 yards in the contest, while true freshman Andrew Clair had just six runs that gained 28 yards.
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