Falcons beat Broncos

Any concerns over how the football team would play in its first Mid-American Conference road game quickly evaporated Saturday.

The Falcons produced a consistent and balanced attack that helped them to a 32-21 win over Western Michigan.

On offense, the Falcons were able to establish the run, getting a total of 224 yards on the ground.

Coach Gregg Brandon said that BG made it a priority to establish a running game against the Broncos, saying that the Broncos had trouble containing their opponents’ running game.

“We felt we could run the ball, because we saw Virginia do it a little bit and Ohio do it a little bit,” Brandon said. “Statistically, [Western Michigan] wasn’t dominant against the run.”

Running back P.J. Pope had one of his best games of the season, rushing for 99 yards.

Pope gave credit to the BG offensive line for his performance.

“Today, it was really all our offensive line,” Pope said. “When I got the ball, it seemed that [there] was a hole, there was a crease.”

Other offensive players were prominent in BG’s offensive attack.

Quarterback Josh Harris had another strong game, throwing for 286 yards and two touchdown passes, while Cole Magner caught 11 passes for 140 yards, including two touchdowns.

BG opened the scoring on its second possession, marching 79 yards in six plays. Cole Magner capped the drive by catching a 24-yard touchdown pass. A missed extra point by Sean Suisham kept the score at 6-0.

The Falcon defense came up big in the first quarter, as Bronco quarterback Chad Munson was constantly under pressure from the BG defensive line. The Broncos had four possessions in the first quarter, but the closest they came to points was a 37-yard missed field goal by Robert Menchinger on their first possession.

Munson went 0-5 passing in the first quarter.

Falcon defensive end Mitch Crossley said that the team knew that Western Michigan was going to try to throw the ball.

“We had a good week at practice … knowing that they were going to pass the ball a little bit,” Crossley said. “We knew that if we stopped the run they would have to pass it.”

The Broncos had only 57 rushing yards in the loss.

BG added to the lead in the second quarter, when Harris ran for a 1-yard touchdown, and the Falcons led 13-0. They added to their lead just before the half, after the Falcons came up with a big defensive play.

The Falcons had just driven to the Bronco 21, when Harris was intercepted by Western Michigan’s Willie Pope. It was Harris’ second interception of the game.

But on the very next play, the defense responded.

Munson’s attempt to pass was deflected at the line, and Mike Thaler grabbed his first interception of the year. The pick put the Falcons in scoring position once more, and this time, they took advantage.

With nine seconds remaining in the half Harris completed a one-yard touchdown pass to Magner. The Falcons unsuccessfully went for a two point conversion, and went into the half with a 19-0 lead.

It was the second consecutive week that the Broncos had been shut out in the first half.

Broncos coach Gary Darnell said that the sluggish start made it difficult for Western Michigan to mount a comeback.

“When it got right down to it, it wasn’t how we finished the game but how we started the game,” Darnell said. “It’s disappointing that for two weeks in a row we shot a blank in the first half offensively, and with that, it makes you wonder when this thing is going to turn back the right way.”

The Broncos were able to mount a comeback in the second half, relying mostly on long range plays.

It took only five plays for the Broncos to get on the board in the second half, as Munson completed a 55-yard pass to Kendrick Mosley that moved Western Michigan to the BG 16.

Two plays later, Antonio Thomas caught a 15-yard touchdown pass to cut the Falcon lead to 19-7.

The Broncos would go on to score two more touchdowns in the second half, at one point cutting the Falcon lead to 22-14.

But the Falcons iced the game by scoring 10 unanswered points. The Falcons’ final score came on a five-yard rushing touchdown by Josh Harris at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and the Falcons led 32-14.

Western Michigan would cut the lead to 32-21 on a 36-yard touchdown pass by Mosley, but the BG defense would allow no more points.

Crossley had two fourth down sacks of Munson in the fourth quarter, and Janssen Patton secured his third interception in the Broncos’ final drive.

The win improved BG to 2-0 in the MAC, and 4-1 overall.

“We’re going down the stretch here in MAC play,” Harris said. “It’s big time now, we have a chance to win the MAC, and every game is important.”

The Falcons will look to continue their conference winning next week at Eastern Michigan.