Donned in all-white uniforms, BGSU football signaled for mercy early against No. 9 Notre Dame. Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book quickly established his control of the game in the first quarter, completing eight straight passes for 128 yards and three touchdowns. Before the Falcons could catch their breath, the Irish rattled off those three scores in just under three minutes and 20 seconds.
Darius Wade, who was named the starter for this game on Monday, was taken out of the game after three stalled drives all ended deep in Falcon field. Head coach Scot Loeffler came to this decision during the week.
“We decided Grant (Loy) was going to get an opportunity to play. He deserves it. I thought he had a very good week of practice. He did some good things out there today,” Loeffler said after the game.
Wade left the game with two competitions on two attempts for 4 yards.
Eight minutes in and the Falcons were finally able to cross midfield with the legs of Grant Loy. His scrambles totaled up to 11 yards for him and two first-down conversions. When Loy couldn’t convert on the run, he relied on junior receiver Quintin Morris as his top target, who clocked out with 10 receptions for 92 yards, a career-high.
“I thought Grant did a good job of putting the ball in a catchable radius and he made a lot of plays with his feet to extend drives,” said Morris.
Still, Book and the Irish receivers were too tall a task for the Bowling Green secondary to handle. Eight wideouts collected catches in total, Javon McKinley leading the way with four receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown.
Coverage, in general, was trouble for BG, but Book attacked any single coverage he could find. When that wasn’t available there was bound to be a safety valve in Chase Claypool or Cole Kmet waiting in the wings. This very situation resulted in two touchdowns by Claypool who was able to make the most of two dump-off throws by taking them across the goal line.
Midway through the third quarter, Book was given a rest, closing his chapter and handing the offense over to backup Phil Jurkovec. Book finished the day 16 for 20 with 261 passing yards and five touchdowns.
Davon Jones and Bryson Denley teamed up for 116 rushing yards, but despite help from the offensive line, the speed of Irish defenders resulted in the limited potential for explosive plays for the run game.
“We don’t want to just play two running back, we want to play five, but we don’t have that right now,” Loeffler said. “So, those guys being able to carry the ball for roughly 42 times against that defense — we got to give them major credit in terms of effort.”
Notre Dame, on the other hand, saw a strong game from starting back Tony Jones Jr. The senior from St. Petersburg, Florida reached 102 yards on the ground on just seven carries. His presence played a part in Book’s success in staying in the pocket.
Difficult to compare the numbers but Loy, 13-25 for 106 yards, sparked something in the offense that hasn’t been seen in some time. Despite being in unfamiliar territory, he had plenty of people inside Notre Dame Stadium on his side.
“I was pretty calm coming into the game. I had like a hundred people come from my hometown, including my family. Some of them even took a travel bus,” Loy said.
All in all, there is still optimism in this game for Bowling Green. Obviously the score is a glaring negative, but the offense was able to convert and put plays together. Any sort of consistency is a huge positive for the program at this point in time.
“You notice we have longer drives. It was good to see. A lot of times we’re going three and out — and we did that today — it was just encouraging to see us execute against Notre Dame. With Toledo coming up… I think we’re all ready to go,” Loy said.
BGSU now is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary with their I-75 counterpart in Toledo, Saturday, Oct. 15 at Doyt Perry Stadium.