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April 18, 2024

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Falcons survive Ball State charge

By Sean Corp

Sports Editor

One and one overall. One and zero in the Mid American Conference. That is all that matters to BGSU.

It may not have been the prettiest win. In fact, that may be an understatement, but the Falcons did what they needed to continue on their path toward a MAC Championship Saturday night when they defeated the pesky Ball State Cardinals, 40-31.

Although the Falcons had their usual offensive output – 428 yards passing and 126 yards on the ground – BG continually shot themselves in the foot either by turning the ball over or giving up a big play on defense.

The Falcons had four turnovers, including an interception and fumble by quarterback Omar Jacobs and one fumble apiece by wide receiver Corey Partridge and B.J. Lane.

If it wasn’t for the big plays by the senior wide receiver tandem of Charles Sharon and Steve Sanders, the Falcons might have left Muncie with a loss. Every time it seemed like the offense was floundering and the team was back on their heels, either Sanders or Sharon would come up with a big catch.

“Those guys are clutch guys,” BG coach Gregg Brandon said. “Our kids made plays at crucial times to win the game.”

Sanders had seven receptions for 118 yards and Sharon had nine receptions for 121 yards. The duo had two touchdowns apiece.

Their experience and big plays were epitomized in the fourth quarter with Bowling Green down 31-28 and facing third-and-10. Jacobs took his time in the pocket and hoisted the ball 55 yards down the middle of the field to hit an open Sharon. Two plays later, Jacobs was able to hit Sanders in the end zone on a 25-yard completion to give BG a lead they would never relinquish.

“It’s part of leadership. Part of being a leader is making the big catch,” Sanders said.

“Everybody made some plays today,” Sanders said. “Our plays just came at the right time. We just did our job. You know, we have one job and that’s to catch the football.”

Jacobs was impressed with his dynamic duo. “These guys are seniors, they’re experienced and showed they are big time players,” he said.

While the Falcons came out with the victory, the Cardinals did everything in their power to pull of a big upset. Although they didn’t have great offensive output, Ball State used a couple trick plays and deceptions to get a big chunk of yards at critical times.

The first score of the game was a 64-yard touchdown pass from Cardinal quarterback Joey Lynch to receiver Dan Dunford. They also utilized a clever reverse for a 42-yard run by Dante Love that led to a Ball State touchdown.

“They pulled a couple of those out of our playbook,” Brandon said.

The Cardinals were within striking distance until late in the fourth quarter when cornerback Antonio Smith intercepted a Joey Lynch pass and ran 47 yards into the endzone.

“It was nice to see that kid do that because he gave one up in the first half, and for him to come back and make that play is awesome,” Brandon said of his freshman cornerback. Smith was badly beaten for a touchdownon a 42-yard pass from Lynch to Terry Moss.

“I knew I had it once he let it go,” Smith said after the game. “I knew once I caught it, I knew I was gonna score.”

However, Brandon was quick to give credit where it was due and he was impressed with Brady Hoke, coach of Ball State.

“Brady Hoke did a heck of a job. For his program being down like they are with the suspensions, they caused us to come in and fight for our lives,” Brandon said. “It’s a major credit to him and his program.”

The Cardinals have been beset by scandal early in the season as they were without 13 players last week in a 56-0 loss at Iowa due to suspensions. Eight players, but no starters, were suspended for the game against Bowling Green.

But that was little consolation for Hoke, who thought his team let one get away. “It was a game we had a chance to win, but we didn’t take advantage of opportunities,” he said. “There is no doubt in my mind we had a chance to win.”

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