By Ryan Strodtbeck
OXFORD, OHIO– Saturday was what MACtion is all about! Western Michigan and Buffalo taking seven overtimes to decide a winner in the highest scoring football game ever in FBS history, and Bowling Green stunning Miami for their first victory of the year. Let’s focus on the latter.
After dropping their Mid-American Conference opener and their first five games of the season there was little room for hope when it comes to playing a team who had won their previous seven conference matchups. Bowling Green was fighting for its first victory this year and Miami was looking to compete for a MAC Championship later this season.
In the first quarter, it seemed as though the Bowling Green defense had a tough time stopping anything Miami was throwing their way. On the opening possession, Miami marched down the field and got into the red zone before Gus Ragland floated a ball in the end zone that Clint Stephens picked off.
On the very next play, James Morgan found Teo Redding down the sideline for a pickup of 43 yards. Bowling Green would settle for three and take the early lead. Following that score. The RedHawks would march right back down the field and score on a pass from Gus Ragland to James Gardner, but failed to make the extra point. That’s where the score stayed after one quarter of play.
In the second quarter, Miami opened up with a drive that ended in a Ragland scramble from 11 yards out to put the RedHawks up 13-3. Bowling Green came back and answered the call when Josh Cleveland ran the ball right up to the middle for a 33-yard touchdown run.
After forcing Miami to punt, the Falcons took over and James Morgan threw his fourth interception of the year. Following the interception, the RedHawks would capitalize with a 13-play, 91-yard drive that ended with a Sam Sloman kick from 22 yards out.
Following the field goal, the Falcons would take control of the lead when Morgan found Matt Wilcox on a slant route in the end zone as time was winding down in the first half. The RedHawks would get the ball back and start a drive with a minute and 19 seconds left to go in the second quarter. Ragland took the team all the way down to the BGSU 21-yard line before Sloman would connect on a 39-yard field goal, as Miami would once again take the lead 19-16 heading into halftime.
On the first play of the second half, Bowling Green came out firing as Morgan found Redding down the left sideline for a 75-yard touchdown as Bowling Green took a 24-19 lead coming out of the locker room.
However, Miami would have their shot and Ragland would find Jared Murphy in the middle of the field for a 36-yard touchdown. The score would stay 26-24 for a good portion of the third quarter before the RedHawks would tack on another field goal, this time from 45 yards out to take a 29-24 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Much like the start of the third quarter, Bowling Green would once again start the fourth on a good note, as Morgan found Redding once more for 28 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons grabbed the 30-29 lead.
After forcing a three and out, Bowling Green got their hands on the ball once more and drove down the field before stalling out. Jake Suder would line up for a 40-yard field goal and miss it wide right. Miami would take over at their own 23-yard line with 3:25 left in the game.
The RedHawks only needed a field goal to take the lead. They would march all the way down the field and with the ball on BGSU’s one-yard line, Miami was looking like they might clinch the game before a bad snap was picked up and taken 93 yards the other way by Brandon Harris as the Falcons finished off the Miami RedHawks by a score of 37-29.
It what was truly a back and forth battle which went down to the final minute of the game, and the Falcons come out of Oxford, Ohio with their first victory of the season.
On the day the Falcons had two players rush for over 100 yards in Andrew Clair (125) and Josh Cleveland (117). James Morgan also threw for 222 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
Bowling Green will look to build off of this victory heading into Homecoming Weekend against the MAC East favorite Ohio Bobcats.