Falcons grind out upset over Ohio
NOV 07, 2012 11:31p ET
Bowling Green played a big part in that, and as a result the Falcons are -- for now, anyway -- the new buzz team in what's been a banner year for Mid-American Conference football.
The Falcons beat Ohio University Wednesday night, 26-14, driven by the running of Anthon Samuel, a solid defensive effort and a pathetic showing by Ohio's punt team that resulted in two Bobcats punts being blocked and two more attempts ending with two different punters dropping snaps, one for a safety.
These midweek MAC games have gained notoriety for highlight-reel plays and basketball-type scores, but this one was an old-fashioned slugfest with more than a hint of sloppiness. Bowling Green players jumped around the locker room after the game in celebration of their sixth straight win, and Ohio was left to silently lament what's probably the death of a dream season.
Ohio was the unanimous preseason choice to win the MAC East and the preseason pick to win the MAC title in Detroit on Nov. 30. Eleven days ago, the Bobcats (8-2, 4-2) were unbeaten and in the BCS standings for the first time at No. 23.
"This is a great win for our football team," Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said. "Our defense was outstanding. Our special teams were great. That's a very good Ohio football team we beat tonight."
It's the sign of a good league -- a deep league and a balanced one -- that there are enough good teams to score road victories at this time of year against talented, highly regarded opposition. Bowling Green's winning here a night after Ball State won at No. 25 is not exactly good for the MAC, though, in terms of its national profile.
Bowling Green (7-3, 5-1) doesn't care. After a 1-3 start that included a close loss at Florida and another, not-so-close loss at Virginia Tech, the Falcons now control their own path to their first MAC title game since 2003.
"For sure, we wanted this one," said Bowling Green's Jude Adjei-Barmah, who blocked the second punt in the third quarter. "Ohio has been a great team. They've been a staple in the MAC East, and we haven't beaten them for three years. This was a big game ... for a lot of reasons. We played with a purpose."
The punt block team earned its rare moment in the spotlight, but it was Samuel who closed it Wednesday. Injury issues have followed the gifted, powerful sophomore all season and kept him out of Bowling Green's last game, but he got 183 yards on 29 carries and scored twice.
Bowling Green stays a game behind Kent State in conference play, and Ohio now needs lots of help in a race that's actually still far from over. Kent State (8-1, 5-0 in conference) plays at Miami-Ohio this week, and Miami beat Ohio in its last home game. Kent State is at Bowling Green on Nov. 17, and Ohio goes to Kent on Nov. 23.
"It's the same deal next week," Clawson said. "Kent controls its destiny, too. We have to go play another big game. These are tough games against good teams."
The chances of that Ohio finale in Kent being a national-spotlight game lessened with Ohio's multitude of errors Wednesday night. An offense that had scored 34 or more points five times this season drove 72 yards for a score on its first drive, then got 12 yards the rest of the first half. Bobcats quarterback Tyler Tettleton was sacked four times, and Ohio was 4-of-15 in trying to convert on third down.
The punting gaffes gave Bowling Green a short field three times, resulting in 17 points and a safety with 18 seconds left in the first half. As a way of quietly rubbing it in, 226-pound Bowling Green punter Brian Schmiedebusch had five punts of 50 yards or more.
"Our defense has been outstanding all year," Clawson said. "Ohio is good. It took a little time to get caught up to the speed of the game, but we got there. We fought for it."
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