Second half does Falcons in

Joel Hammond and Joel Hammond

Three inches were not the difference in Saturday night’s 42-24 Toledo win at the Glass Bowl. Those three inches were the difference on one big play in the game, but a second half filled with Bowling Green mistakes and the Falcons’ inability to stop Toledo’s rushing attack essentially cost them their tenth win and a possible bowl bid.

With the Falcons leading 24-14 and the ball on fourth down at their own 49, BG Coach Urban Meyer, like he has so often throughout his two-year tenure, pulled the trigger, calling for a fake punt.

The play, a direct snap to upback Mitch Hewitt, went for 35 yards and a crucial first down against Western Michigan over a month ago.

This time, it didn’t work out so well.

Hewitt got the call again, but Toledo saw it coming, and stuffed Hewitt three inches short of the first down. Then, the floodgates opened.

“I regret it [the fake punt call],” Meyer said. “But our program is an extremely aggressive program. We’re going to continue to do those things. We saw something there, and came up an inch short.”

Toledo scored four unanswered touchdowns and ran away from the Falcons, winning 42-24. Therein those four unanswered touchdowns Toledo took advantage of something they had been setting up throughout the whole game: a tired Bowling Green defense.

Through one half, Toledo had seven more minutes in time of possession than BG, and had run 10 more offensive plays. Yet, BG’s offense had taken advantage of their opportunities, including a blocked punt at the end of the first half, to take a 24-14 lead into the intermission.

Where BG succeeded in the first half, though, was their ultimate downfall in the second. Just five BG first downs in the second half combined with the Falcons’ defense being on the field for nearly two-thirds of the game gave Toledo an easy solution to their deficit in the second half: run the ball.

With previous starter William Bratton sidelined with a fractured ankle through the last four weeks, it was a rush-by-committee attack for the Rockets, as Astin Martin (120 yards) and Trinity Dawson (98 yards) combined with quarterback Brian Jones (45 yards) to keep the Falcons’ defense off balance.

“I think we made a big deal about startng that second half with some momentum,” Meyer said. “But the offense stalled out two straight drives, and our defense is on the field for 83 plays, compared to just 60 for them.”

Toledo Coach Tom Amstutz agreed that the Rockets were able to wear down the Falcons.

“Bowling Green gave us a lot of different looks on defense early in the game,” Amstutz said. “We took a while to adjust, but our linemen gained momentum as the game went on, and our guys are usually able to wear down teams in the fourth quarter. We wore them down, and kept playing hard.”