Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Bowling Green’s haymakers set tone

Falcons’ defense forced Ohio to pass


BG’s Matt Johnson and the Falcons’ offense used play-action to set up big plays early.


BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University football team entered its game against Ohio as the favorite, and the Falcons won as expected.

No one could have expected the 49-0 thrashing BG administered at Doyt Perry Stadium on Tuesday.

The Falcons hit Ohio with two touchdowns in the game’s first three minutes, setting the tone for a contest in which Bowling Green dominated on both sides of the ball.

“We were amped up,” senior safety BooBoo Gates said. “Two weeks ago Toledo hit us in the mouth early, and we were down 21-0 in the second quarter. That was a shocker, and we needed to come back.”

Instead it was Bowling Green administering the haymakers Tuesday, using an offensive game-plan which included a play-action element that used the pass to open up the run.

“Ohio is a team that likes to outnumber the run, and their safeties are very involved in the run game,” BG coach Dave Clawson said.

“We came into the game telling our O-line and perimeter players that we were going to have some opportunities in play-action to make plays.

“[We said] we’d better hold up in protection and, when we get our shots, we’d better hit them. The first play of the game we hit it, and the third play of the game we hit it, and that got them backed out early.”

On that first play Falcons quarterback Matt Johnson found Shaun Joplin behind the Bobcats secondary for a 43-yard pass that set up an 11-yard TD run by Travis Greene at 12:55 of the opening period.

The next time Bowling Green got the ball back, Johnson used play-action to connect with Heath Jackson on a 32-yard scoring strike.

“When you hit a team with a play-action pass on the first play of the game, and on the next possession we hit them with another play-action pass for a touchdown, that’s going to open up the run game,” Johnson said. “I think all year we’ve been pretty balanced.

“A lot of credit for that goes to [Travis Greene] and the other running backs. They are running hard and making guys miss. This game we went play-action to set up the run.”

Those first three plays resulted in 75 passing yards and just 11 rushing yards, but by the end of the first quarter the spread was 103 passing and 68 rushing. By game’s end the Falcons’ 460 yards of total offense were balanced between 207 yards rushing and 253 yards passing.

Meanwhile the defensive game plan was to make Ohio unbalanced — and tilted towards the pass.

“They are a team that was throwing the ball well, but if you spread out with them, [quarterback Tyler] Tettleton and [running back Beau] Blankenship can run the ball,” Clawson said. “[Against Miami] we played a lot of ‘two-high’ and dared them to have drives, but against Ohio we had to switch things up.”

Bowling Green was especially good at stopping the run.

The Bobcats had minus-two yards rushing in the first quarter and just 17 in the first half.

“We wanted to stop the run and get them on their heels early,” Gates said. “Once Ohio gets its offense running, they like to go fast. Once they get off-schedule, they slow down.

“Keeping Tettleton in the pocket [is important], because when he gets out he can make plays. It was good to see our defensive ends keep him in the pocket, and when he rolled out we rode him out of bounds because he didn’t have any open receivers.”

Still, even Clawson was impressed that his defense limited the Bobcats to just 172 yards, including a measly 56 yards rushing.

“Ohio is a good offense,” Clawson said. “Tettleton is a heck of a player, and [receiver Donte] Foster is a good player, too. They’ve scored a lot of points, and they’ve scored points against good teams.

“We got a pass rush, and that helped. We got a lead, and that helped make them one-dimensional. And we covered them well.”

Contact John Wagner at:, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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