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September 21, 2023

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FALCONS 39, EAGLES 32: Ready to go bowling

Six minutes to go, season on the brink, team down one.

This was the situation facing the Falcons Friday night in Ypsilanti. Eastern Michigan had just scored the go-ahead touchdown on nine play, 65-yard drive to the end zone.

BG needed something good to happen and they needed it to happen fast.

“We just wanted to score,” said quarterback Tyler Sheehan. “We didn’t care how much time or how little time it took.”

Chris Bullock got the drive off to a good start with a 17-yard gain on first down. Just like that, the Falcons were in Eagle territory and they would not look back.

Sheehan followed two plays with a ten yard rush for a first down.

Bullock followed that up with two runs amounting to 32 yards and the Falcons were on the EMU 1-yard line.

“We made an adjustment and went to a trap play that we hadn’t run all game,” said BG coach Gregg Brandon. “Three of those big runs by Bullock were the quick trap and Chris did a good job in there.”

Two plays later the Falcons were in the end zone on Sheehan’s quarterback sneak. The drive lasted seven plays for 61 yards in only 2:21. The drive featured no passes until the two-point conversion.

With BG only up by five, they needed to go for two and the team ran a play that some might have recognized from a much-publicized two-point attempt from earlier in the season.

“That’s exactly what we wanted it to look like; we still have the option to throw that like we did to Freddie [Barnes] in Minnesota,” Sheehan said. “We knew that a lot of teams had seen that and they are going to cover it. I still had the option to throw if it was open, but we knew Pete [Winovich] was going to be wide open on the weak-side back there.”

The play was executed perfectly and about three EMU defenders followed Barnes to the sideline and this left Winovich wide open in the center of the end zone. The only person who could have made the tackle was the official.

This put the Falcons up by a score of 39-32. The defense made it official a few plays later when former tight end Sean O’Drobinak batted down EMU quarterback Andy Schmitt’s fourth down pass.

A big part of the win came from the running game which collectively gained nearly 200 yards on the ground.

BG had four players who rushed for 40 or more yards. It was a very balanced day for everyone on the ground, but the rushing attack did not come without a few scares.

Anthony Turner lost a fumble at the goal line and the offense nearly saw another fumble lost in the red zone, but offensive lineman Shane Steffy was able to pounce on it for a touchdown after Dan Macon fumbled and the ball rolled into the end zone.

“It was a huge play for us,” Sheehan said. “Our linemen are always trying to dive on balls in practice. All the guys are trying to run and make a play and Shane Steffy landed on it and everyone went nuts because the lineman finally scored.”

It was ugly but the Falcons escaped and that is the name of the game this time of the year – survive and advance.

BG also became bowl-eligible with the win and considering where the program was one year ago, that is a huge accomplishment.

“We got bowl-eligible tonight, which is huge for this football program right now,” Brandon said.

“For us to come back and get bowl eligible and win six football games right now from where we were less than a year ago is a huge credit to the kids in this program.”

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