Defense bends for Jarvis but holds strong in red zone

KENT, Ohio – Saturday afternoon, the BG defense was up against a Kent team that leads the Mid-American Conference in rushing. Speedy running back Eugene Jarvis came into the game with a conference-best 935 yards on the ground and eight touchdowns.

Kent’s quarterback, Julian Edelman, was also a running threat that, combined with Jarvis, would be tough for BG to defend.

Last week against Miami, the Falcons’ run defense was largely ineffective, as backup runningback Austin Sykes rushed for a career-high 124 yards and two touchdowns. Through the air, Miami quarterback Daniel Raudabaugh had 237 yards and a touchdown. Twice the Falcons were burned with big plays.

Against the Golden Flashes on Saturday, BG was able to limit the passing game and contain the running attack enough to preserve a 31-20 win in front of 10,248 at Dix Stadium.

On Kent’s first drive of the game, Jarvis looked like he’d be giving the Falcons headaches all day. He had 63 yards on 10 carries and put his offense in position to kick a field goal to make the score 7-3 in favor of BG.

As the game wore on, the BG defense tightened up just enough to keep Jarvis out of the end zone. He finished the game with 168 yards, but gained only 44 in the second half.

“[Jarvis] is a good runner,” said linebacker John Haneline. “You can lose him in the backfield. He’s great making cuts and making you miss, and he’s real elusive. He’s a very talented running back.”

Edelman presented yet another challenge for the Falcons. Good coverage in the secondary made him apprehensive about making some throws, and he finished the game with eight completions for 128 yards and a touchdown. Edelman only attempted one pass in the entire first half.

“He had a couple of times where he was just out of the framework of the offense,” said Kent coach Doug Martin. “He was trying to do things that we weren’t even trying to do.”

On the ground, however, Edelman gained 104 yards.

While they were gouged in the running game, the Falcons were able to bear down when they needed to, especially in the red zone. In the first half, they maintained their lead and held Kent to two field goals and a score, and in the second half had two goal-line stands.

“[The goal-line stands] were huge,” said head coach Gregg Brandon. “Our defense really rallied. I thought they did a great job.”

“It seemed like once we got in that red zone, as a unit we were a little bit more fired up,” Haneline said. “We had that ‘bend but don’t break’ mentality. We were fired up.”

For the game, safety Jahmal Brown led the team in tackles with 12. Haneline and Erique Dozier each had nine. As a unit, the defense recorded three sacks, seven tackles for a loss, and forced three fumbles, with freshman linebacker Angelo Magnone recovering one.

Although Kent’s running game was effective for most of the game, the defense’s ability to make key stops allowed BG to control the game and never lose their lead.

“We knew we weren’t going to shut them down,” Brandon said. “I’ve watched [Kent] play seven games, and a lot of teams never even touch tackled [Jarvis and Edelman]. So for us to contain those guys was a victory for our defense.”