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BG rolls in bowl win

Omar Jacobs finished his first season as the Falcons starting quarterback on top of his game as he threw five touchdown passes, a GMAC Bowl and Bowling Green bowl record, to lead the Falcons to victory over Memphis in the GMAC Bowl.

Jacobs and the Falcon offense got off to a hot start and never trailed in their 52-35 win in Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

“The team (was) getting focused the whole time here,” said Jacobs, who was 26-44 for 365 yards. “(It) was like a business trip and we came out and took care of business.”

BG marched 59 yards on their opening drive and took the early lead after P.J. Pope ran a direct snap in from one-yard out. It was the Falcons seventh consecutive game in which they scored on their first drive.

On the ensuing kickoff, BG head coach Gregg Brandon decided to go for an onside kick. Shaun Suisham’s kick threw the Tigers off guard and the ball was recovered by Mike Crumpler at the BG 48-yard line.

“They (Memphis) weren’t lined up,” Brandon said. “Suisham was in position to bunt that, we call it a bunt kick … and we just executed.”

The Falcons wasted no time getting down field as Pope burst up the middle for a 29-yard gain, which led to Jacobs connecting on his first TD pass of the game to Charles Sharon from 18-yards out to give BG a quick 14-0 lead.

That TD pass for Jacobs broke the Mid-Amercian Conference record for combined TD’s in a season (41) which was previously held by BG’s Josh Harris, Miami’s Ben Roethlisberger and Marshall’s Chad Pennington.

While the Falcon offense was rolling in the first half, it was the play of the defense in the second half that secured the win.

BG led 35-28 at half, but Memphis’ offense was picking up the pace and had 306 total yards in the first half. With the debacle at Toledo still looming large, the Falcon defense took it upon themselves to thwart the Tigers offense.

“For the past month, we’ve been thinking about that loss at Toledo, which we didn’t come out and play the second half,” said senior linebacker Jovon Burkes. “With great preparation, great defensive scheme, we got to come out and execute.”

The defense held Memphis to 108 yards in the second half and one touchdown, which came late in the fourth quarter.

“We told our defensive kids in the locker room at halftime that we just needed to make some stops,” said Brandon, who is 2-0 at BG in bowl games. “We knew Memphis was an explosive offense and to hold them to seven points in the second half was really a great job by [defensive coordinator] Tim Beckman, the defensive coaches and our defensive players.”

Another blow for the Tigers was the injury suffered by star tailback DeAngelo Williams, who was a Third Team All-American selection.

Early in the third quarter, he came off the field limping after a seven-yard run, but returned on their next possession. Following a five-yard run in which he tried to cut up field, he quickly fell to the ground and was later found to have a broken right leg.

“He’s their biggest weapon all year round, and with him being out of the game, we knew they were just a one-dimensional team passing the ball,” Burkes said.

Jacobs and his receiving core were on the same page all night. Jacobs connected with Steve Sanders on two touchdown passes, and Sanders totaled seven catches for 123 yards. Sanders’ 17-yard TD grab before the half was a highlight reel catch as he leaped over a defender to get the ball and give the Falcons a seven-point halftime lead.

Sharon added a 36-yard TD for his second score of the first quarter, which gave him a school-record 28 receiving TD’s, and finish with five catches for 117 yards. Overall this season, he had 66 catches for 1, 070 yards and a school record 15 receiving touchdowns, and praised Jacobs for their remarkable year.

“Omar is doing a really great job. He’s a really unique quarterback … the style of quarterback that he is. He throws a great ball, he can run. He’s just an all around athlete,” Sharon said.

Memphis’ offense got on a roll in the second quarter and managed to catch up to BG at 28-28 with just over three minutes remaining in the first half after Williams ran for a 31-yard TD.

In the third quarter, the Tigers suffered a huge mental breakdown that helped BG pull away for good. Trailing the Falcons by seven, Scott Vogel intercepted Jacobs pass intended for Cornelius McGrady, which gave Memphis the ball at BG’s 41.

After three plays put them at fourth-and-one from the Falcons 32, coach Tommy West kept his offense on the field to go for the first down. The Tigers were flagged for back-to-back illegal substitution penalties and were forced to punt.

BG capitalized as Jacobs hit Pope for a 13-yard TD to give the Falcons a two score lead.

Falcon Notes

BG had 558 yards of total offense … The Falcons were 10 of 16 on third-down conversions … Pope finished the game with 151 yards rushing, his second highest total of the season … Cole Magner had nine receptions for 68 yards in his final game at BG … Burkes led the team with 11 tackles and two were for a loss … Keon Newson’s fourth quarter interception increased his team-high total to six … BG’s 21 first quarter points tied the GMAC Bowl record for points in a quarter, was a school record in a bowl game and improved their first quarter scoring margin on the season to 184-34 … Suisham’s 37-yard field goal in the fourth quarter gave him 45 field goals for his career, which is a school record.

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