After a lopsided loss last week, the Bowling Green Falcons traveled to the Glass Bowl to battle their heated rivals, the Toledo Rockets, in the Battle of I-75, defeating the Rockets 42-35 for the first time in a decade, in one the craziest games of the entire year.
Toledo Rockets starting quarterback Dequan Finn did not play, so backup Tucker Gleason stepped in for the Rockets.
BG began the game red hot, with senior quarterback Matt McDonald throwing a twenty-five-yard touchdown pass to Odieu Hiliare early in the first quarter. The Falcon defense continued to dominate the Rocket's offensive line, forcing another punt.
With BGSU backed up on their thirty-five-yard line, McDonald once again called Hiliarie’s number for a massive fifty-one-yard catch to put the offense inside the twenty-yard line. The drive was capped off with a three-yard touchdown pass from McDonald to tight end Andrew Bench.
The Falcons entered the second quarter up comfortably at 14-0.
BGSU once again started red hot with a blocked punt being recovered in the endzone by safety Patrick Day. Toledo rebounded after their defense intercepted a McDonald pass and returned it twelve yards, with Tucker Gleason running it in from five yards for their first touchdown later on. Four minutes later, Rocket running back Micah Kelly scored off a shovel pass from Gleason.
The Falcons would enter halftime with a score of 21-14.
The Falcons started the half with a forty-one yard catch and run from Hiliare that ended in a field goal. BGSU was able to force defense pressure to create two more turnovers off of a massive Chris Bacon hit that forced a fumble, along with a Deshawn Jones Jr. interception, which set up another field goal, making it 27-14 going into the fourth.
The fourth quarter began with the Rockets driving down the field, capping off the drive with a three-yard touchdown pass from Gleason to wideout Jamal Turner to score 27-21. Just a minute later, Hiliare made an incredible one-handed catch to score a fifty-nine-yard touchdown, putting the Falcons up 34-21.
The Rockets would battle back, first with a three-yard Jerjuan Newton touchdown catch to put the Rockets within one touchdown. Then, after getting the ball back, Gleason would convert a fourth and seven, and then run it in from the one-yard line to make it 35-34 UT with under a minute left.
The Falcons started the next drive on their twenty-eight-yard line, and after being forced into a third and fifteen, McDonald threw a thirty-five-yard completion to senior tight end Christian Sims on the sideline, and on the very next play, threw a forty-two-yard touchdown pass to Ta’Ron Keith, who narrowly avoided four defenders to seal the win for Bowling Green, 42-35.
Keith spoke about the impact of beating their arch-rivals.
“It feels amazing," Keith said. "Words can’t describe how it feels. It feels great. When I caught the ball, I was thinking score, put it in the endzone”
McDonald threw for a career-high 395 yards and four touchdowns. Hiliare had eight catches for a career-high 246 yards receiving, and two touchdowns. On the defensive end, Karl Brooks had two sacks, with the BG defense recording fourteen tackles for loss.
Bowling Green improves to 6-5 on the year, and with this win, becomes bowl eligible for the first time since 2015. The Falcons will close out the season on the road next week against the Ohio Bobcats, on Nov. 22, at 7 p.m.
For more information about the team, visit bgsufalcons.com.