BOWLING GREEN — In a muggy hallway next to the home locker room at Doyt Perry Stadium, the unmistakable sound of some 100-plus players singing Ay Ziggy Zoomba shook the building shortly before 8 p.m. Saturday.
It might have been ugly at times, and it might have been an FCS opponent, but Bowling Green left its home field with a win.
The Falcons survived Eastern Kentucky for a 42-35 victory, their first triumph at home since Nov. 25, 2016.
BG quarterback Jarret Doege ran for a touchdown and threw for four more, including the winner to Quintin Morris with fewer than seven minutes to play, and the BG defense held off the Colonels’ final two drives to preserve the lead.
“It was time,” Morris said. “We had to finally bring one home to the Doyt.”
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The Falcons (1-2) couldn’t sustain good starts in the first two weeks, but week No. 3 was the opposite. The Falcons punted twice to start the game, while Eastern Kentucky (1-2) stormed through the BG defense on consecutive possessions to take a 14-0 lead.
Despite the inauspicious start, BG responded with 28 second-quarter points to take a seven-point lead into halftime. The Falcons also turned three EKU fumbles into 20 points.
Jarret Doege threw for 4 touchdowns Saturday to lift Bowling Green to its first win of the season.
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“It’s not just the win I’m proud of, it’s the way that we won,” Falcons coach Mike Jinks said. “To fall down 14-0 and have every reason to say, ‘OK, here we go again’ — they didn’t do that. They stayed together, they came back, and we made a charge.”
The Colonels tied the game in the third with the help of a BGSU mistake. Doege flipped a pass over the middle that EKU intercepted, and the Colonels made use of the short field with a 31-yard touchdown drive.
After BG’s Kholbe Coleman forced and recovered a fumble later in the quarter, Doege and Phouthavong connected for 14-yard touchdown, Phouthavong’s second of the game. However, BG botched the snap on the extra point and settled for a 34-28 lead.
EKU’s Daryl McCleskey broke through for one of his three touchdowns on the next drive, scampering 27 yards on a fourth-down play to establish a one-point advantage. The Colonels ran for 389 yards on 60 attempts
Midway through the fourth, Doege found Morris, who made a spectacular catch in the corner of the end zone, for a 7-yard touchdown. Morris has the best day of his career with eight catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns.
The Falcons also converted the 2-point try, as Doege hit Jordan Wayne-Prather to re-establish a 7-point lead with 6 minutes, 47 seconds to go, establishing a lead they would keep.
“We made sure we stayed positive,” Morris said. “Like I said last week, we’ve got to get punched in the mouth and be able to respond. This week, I believe we responded.”
EKU drove to the BG 15-yard line with 11 seconds to go, but the Colonels had no timeouts remaining. Three consecutive pass attempts fell incomplete, including one in the end zone as time expired that decided the game.
Bowling Green plays its first Mid-American Conference game next week with a home date against Miami.
While the win was far from perfect for BG, it was a small step in the right direction.
“I think it just puts us on the right track. It gets us in a rhythm right now,” Doege said. “First one in a while gets everybody’s energy up, everybody’s happy. The expectation is to keep winning.”
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