Bowling Green claimed sole possession of last place in the MAC with a 31-3 loss at Akron on Saturday afternoon.
Akron snaps their 21-game losing streak with this win against Bowling Green, and the Falcons fall to 0-5 on the season with the loss.
The same problems haunted Bowling Green today. The offense couldn’t sustain drives down in the redzone and the defense couldn’t stop the run. BGSU Head Coach Scot Loeffler commented on another issue that has plagued this team.
“I’m disappointed at how things turned out today. We got a lot of discipline to get cleaned up here and that’s my responsibility. We lost this game today, plain and simple on discipline,” Loeffler said.
Akron started the game with a couple of chunk plays. Akron running back Teon Dollard had runs of 22 yards and 14 yards to take the ball into Bowling Green territory. After three straight failed pass attempts, Akron punted the ball. Bowling Green punt returner Jake Rogers muffed the punt and Akron got the ball at the Bowling Green 11-yard line. They would lose eight yards in three downs and settled for the field goal attempt. Akron kicker Cory Smigel made the 36-yard field goal to get the Zips on the scoreboard, 3-0.
Bowling Green responded with their first drive of the game. Akron looked prepared for the run as they contained running backs Andrew Clair and Terion Stewart. Quarterback Matt McDonald was able to convert a couple third and sevens to keep the drive going. The Falcons would get to the redzone but McDonald took a sack on second down to make it a third and goal from the Akron 13-yard line. The Falcons would eventually settle for a 23-yard field by kicker Nate Needham to tie Akron at 3-3.
On Akron’s second drive, Dollard would continue to find success on the ground against the Falcons. The Akron drive was assisted by a personal foul penalty on linebacker Kholbe Coleman’s hit on Akron quarterback Zach Gibson. This took the Zips to the Bowling Green 27-yard line. On a third and eight from the BGSU 12-yard line, Gibson threw a tunnel screen to wide receiver George Qualls Jr., which he took for the 12-yard touchdown. This gave Akron the lead back, 10-3.
Bowling Green would be forced to throw the ball again on their second drive. After a Clair run that went nowhere, McDonald found his tight end, Quintin Morris, for a 53-yard gain to get the ball to the Akron 20-yard line. After failing to gain a yard in three downs, Needham would miss the 38-yard field goal and keep Akron’s lead at seven.
After Akron had their drive stalled at the Bowling Green 44-yard line, they pinned the Falcons at their own 1-yard line. Bowling Green would go three and out on the drive. The ensuing punt would be blocked by the Zips and returned for a touchdown. This extended Akron’s lead 17-3.
This play turned the tide of the game. After the blocked punt, it was all Akron.
“When you get a punt blocked, you have an 85% chance of losing the game. That was critical,” Loeffler said.
At halftime, Akron was winning the rushing game. What had been a strength for the Falcons did not show up. As a team, Bowling Green had 15 yards rushing compared to Akron who had 75 yards rushing as a team. Akron also dominated on special teams. Thanks to a missed field goal by Bowling Green and a blocked punt, the Zips had a 14-point lead at half.
Bowling Green wide receiver Bryson Denely took the opening half kickoff to the BGSU 41-yard line. After getting a first down on the ground, the Falcons stumbled and had a 3rd and 11. McDonald would get dinged up, and backup quarterback LaBronz Davis came in while McDonald got treatment on the sideline. Davis threw an interception to Akron cornerback A.J. Watts, who returned it to the BGSU 39-yard line.
From there, Gibson found tight end Tristan Brank for a 29-yard strike to get down to the BGSU 2-yard line. After a sack by the Falcon defense, Dollard ran for the 9-yard touchdown to make the lead, 24-3.
After a couple failed drives for each eam, Akron broke off another huge play as Dollard found the endzone again from 50 yards out. Bowling Green could not contain Dollard and the run game of Akron. The Zips would lead 31-3 with eleven minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Dollard would end the game with 185 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The tackling is still an issue, evident by the screen pass that would go for a 12-yard touchdown.
The Falcons could not get on the scoreboard during the second half. The rushing attack for the Falcons showed up after halftime, but it did not amount to any points scored. A Clair fumble and not converting on fourth down led to the scoreless second half.
“We move the ball up and down the field and we can’t convert in the redzone, missed opportunities everywhere,” Loeffler said.
Bowling Green will have one last shot at a win next Saturday. They will be playing Miami at home.
“There’s still one more game, there’s still an opportunity to win. We just got to come in to practice and attack that and make sure we finish with a win,” Morris said.