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Falcons thunder over Herd, back in top 25

The BG football team more than stood up to the challenge of facing the top ranked MAC defense.

They dominated the highly touted Marshall defenders, gaining 543 total yards to win 56-35, extending their winning streak to seven games.

Omar Jacobs shined, throwing for 389 yards and a career-high five touchdowns against the Thundering Herd, who were surrendering only 191 yards through the air per game and 17 points.

“We expect to put up points no matter who comes in front of us,” Jacobs said. “Whoever’s the top defense in the nation or the conference, we just have that confidence that we’re going to put points up on them.”

Running back P.J. Pope slashed through the Herd, scoring three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) and totaling 138 yards.

“P.J.’s a quality back,” said BG head coach Gregg Brandon. “He’s hard to tackle. He has a low center of gravity and he’s got deceptive speed.”

The BG offense came out firing right from the start. On the opening possession of the game, BG marched 80 yards on seven plays, capped off by a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jacobs to James Hawkins, to give them the first score of the game. Charles Sharon, who finished with five catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns, caught a 33-yard pass on the second play of the game for the Falcons first big play.

BG hit with two more quick strikes in the first quarter. Pope’s 1-yard touchdown run and Steve Sanders 13-yard TD reception gave BG a 21-7 lead after the first quarter.

The Herd battled back to trail by one score midway through the third quarter as both squads traded touchdown drives back and forth, leaving BG with a 35-28 lead.

“I was telling the guys, ‘Hey we can’t make this a score, they score, we score, they score (game)’. We had to step up and make stops,” said safety Keon Newson.

BG’s defense settled down from there, allowing one more score to Marshall on their final six possessions.

“The whole key to winning football games is keeping people out of the endzone,” Brandon said. “I would’ve liked to have seen us not give up quite as many points, (but) our defense did a nice job.”

With under three minutes remaining in the third and the Falcons up two scores, Newson picked off a Stan Hill pass that was tipped by lineman Ryan Newble and returned it 42-yards for a touchdown, essentially putting away the Herd for good.

“It was just a good play by the interior lineman,” Newson said. “Those guys, if they can’t get to the quarterback, they get their hands up. I had an opportunity, and I took care of it.”

Coming in to the game, much emphasis was put on stopping the Marshall defensive line, which had a combined 19.5 sacks between their two starting ends, Jonathan Goddard and Jamus Martin. The Herd recorded one sack on the day, early in the first quarter, and BG’s offensive line gave Jacobs time to see the field and make plays.

“I guess I expected a little bit more of their defensive line,” said center Scott Mruczkowski. “They played hard, but I didn’t think they were anything that we haven’t seen all year.”

Falcon Notes

Sharon’s two touchdown performance gave him 12 receiving TD’s on the year, which is a school single season record … Jacobs 389 passing yards tied his career-high that he recorded against Ohio earlier this season, and his 32 TD passes leads the nation … The defense forced four turnovers on the day, three interceptions and one fumble recovery … Pope has scored at least one touchdown in seven straight games … Jovon Burkes led the team in tackles with 10 and had two for losses.

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