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Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Published: Friday, 9/4/2009

Falcons defense comes up big in season-opener

BOWLING GREEN — Be patient. We'll certainly get around to Freddie Barnes.

There will surely be a paragraph or two on Tyler Sheehan.

Of course, we won't forget Dave Clawson.

But, first, this commercial announcement for the Bowling Green State University defense:

“We ain't bad, folks.”

That unit was the biggest question mark in advance of last night's season-opener against Troy and nothing the crowd of 14,514 at Doyt Perry Field saw in the first minute and 54 seconds of play changed that perception.

But there are fewer questions now after a 31-14 BG victory that featured more big stops and more big plays than any Falcons fan could have imagined from an unproven group against an experienced Troy offense.

No-huddle Troy went 80 yards on seven plays after the opening kickoff for a 7-0 lead. We're tempted to say it was like a hot knife through butter, except butter would have put up a better fight.

Later, the Trojans racked up another 89 yards on 11 plays for a 14-0 lead. That's 169 yards on two drives.

BG's defense surrendered just 135 yards the rest of the game and posted nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The Falcons scored 31 unanswered points to the final horn. You can do the math.

There was a sack by Nick Torresso that blunted a Trojan drive after Sheehan had thrown an interception. There was Cody Basler stopping Troy running back DuJuan Harris in his tracks on a fourth-and-one play inside the BG 20 in the waning seconds of the first half. There was James Schneider coming hard on a third-down blitz that forced the visitors to try a long field goal that was no good. There was Roger Williams' interception (to go along with seven solo tackles) of a deep hurl by Troy quarterback Levi Brown that ended a drive and started BG toward its go-ahead field goal. And then there was the back-breaker, a 64-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Adrien Spencer that iced the outcome with 2:14 to play.

Clawson ran a little ways onto the field, jumping and pumping his fist as Spencer disappeared into the end zone, setting off a huge BG sideline celebration. It was the perfect ending to his debut as the Falcons' head coach because this is a team that in recent years has needed stout offensive numbers to win. Maybe there is more to the formula now.

Don't fret. There is still plenty of offense.

Barnes, the senior who has done everything during his BG career except parachuting into the stadium with the game ball, set a school and stadium record with 15 pass receptions — good for 157 yards and two touchdowns — but will still probably take grief while watching game films for the wide-open bomb he dropped early in the second half. He made up for it later in the same drive, though, by hauling in a seven-yard gain on a fourth-and-six play, then snagging a short toss and shedding a tackler at the line of scrimmage before breaking into the end zone from eight yards out.

Sheehan completed 32 of 44 attempts for 339 yards and if Barnes isn't enough for him, tight end Jimmy Scheidler, who had four catches, one for 40 yards, is another dandy option. Willie Geter and Chris Bullock were part dash, part crash at tailback.

Yes, these Falcons will move the ball. But if last night was any indication, they'll stop it and steal it, too.

Contact Blade sports columnistDave Hackenberg at:dhack@theblade.comor 419-724-6398.



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