Falcons shed individuality

Ryan Autullo and Ryan Autullo

In desperate need of an identity, the BGSU football team chose to strip its individuality and start from scratch.

The decision by the Falcon coaching staff to remove the last names on players’ jerseys may not have coincided well with a homecoming game, but the alumni in attendance were quickly familiarized with the majority of the Falcon players via their stellar play.

BG demoralized hapless Temple, 70-7 Saturday, improving immensely on defense and special teams, to improve to 2-2 overall. It was BG’s first home game of the year after playing the first month on the road.

“We decided that we’re playing for the bird on the side of the helmet, and we’re not playing for anybody’s name on the back,” BG coach Gregg Brandon said. “We’ll decide if we’re going to put those back on. We’ll let the seniors make that call.”

If the Falcons continue to perform at this level, it may be necessary to add the names to the jerseys of the lesser-known reserve players, who played the majority of the second half Saturday.

“We wanted to show the fans that they have a reason to cheer,” said wide receiver Steve Sanders, who caught two touchdowns and ran for another. “For a minute, everybody was down a little bit because we didn’t play a great game at Boise.”

It didn’t take long for the Falcon faithful to applaud once again. With 10:09 remaining in the first quarter, Omar Jacobs connected with Charles Sharon for what would be the first of 10 touchdowns for the Falcons.

Jacobs, who played the worst game of his illustrious career in the loss against Boise, was 26-of-30 for 326 yards, including four touchdown passes in less than three quarters of work. Sharon had seven catches for 95 yards and Sanders had five receptions for 108 yards. Jacobs also connected with running back P.J. Pope for a score with 5:16 left in the first quarter.

“I just had to get back to fundamentals and have fun,” Jacobs said.

After BG’s first five drives of the game, they led 35-0. The Falcons scored in six of their seven first-half possessions, taking a 42-7 lead into half-time. Brandon attributed much of the Falcons’ high-energy to the 19,462 fans in attendance, who were “cranked” two hours before the 4 p.m. kickoff.

“It’s nice to see a sea of orange – not at Boise State – but out here,” Brandon said. “You saw what our kids do when we have a lot of juice and a lot of energy.”

Temple (0-5) scored its only touchdown with 4:43 left in the first half on a 1-yard run by Mar Ferguson, who rushed 28 times for 132 yards – the only positive on an otherwise forgettable day for the Owls. BG forced five turnovers, including two interceptions by Jelani Jordan and another by Antonio Smith, who returned his 53 yards for a score. The Falcons entered the game having given up an average of 45 points per game.

Former BG linebacker and team captain Jovon Burkes paid a visit to the defense earlier in the week, convincing them that they were far better than their statistics indicated.

“He yelled at us because we weren’t running and hitting anyone,” Jordan said. “We were getting hit and staying on the ground, so he got on us about that.”

Not to be outdone by the defense and offense, the special teams of the Falcons were on display, too. Corey Partridge returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown with 13:59 remaining in the game and Nate Fry was successful on all of his extra-point attempts – an improvement from BG’s four missed PAT’s in the first three games – and routinely giving the Owls poor field position with his deep kickoffs.

“We just came out today with the mindset to score each time we touched the ball,” Sanders said. “For the most part we did that.”