Falcons decided to go for win early

The Falcons 28-24 victory over Northwestern in the Motor City Bowl on Dec. 26 gave Josh Harris and the rest of the senior class an appropriate ending to their collegiate careers as well as showed who will lead the Falcons to continued success in the future.

Harris ended his BG career by turning in a 38 for 50, 386-yard passing performance while rushing for three touchdowns and running for one more. He leaves BG in possession of numerous individual passing records.

“That’s the type of competitor Josh is, when the game’s on the line he wants the ball in his hands,” wide receiver Cole Magner said. “We’re going to miss that next year.”

The game ended a roller coaster ride for the departing seniors, who began their careers with a 2-9 record in the 2000 season. They also played under three different head coaches in four years.

“It was a season where I had a group of seniors and when we got together in the summer I told them we’d go as far as they would take us, and they took us to the Motor City Bowl Championship,” head coach Gregg Brandon said. “I can’t say enough about that group of kids and how they led.”

The departure of numerous starting seniors means that younger players will be called upon to fill these holes. Several players stepped up and showed they are ready for the task against Northwestern.

Wide receiver Cole Magner led the Falcons with 12 receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner. He finished the season with school records for receptions (99) and receiving yards (1,138).

Cornerback Keon Newson forced two fumbles, a Motor City Bowl record, and finished the season with a Mid-American Conference leading six forced fumbles.

Linebacker Jovon Burkes, the team’s only non-senior captain, blocked a Northwestern field goal attempt in the closing seconds of the first half.

Tailback P.J. Pope’s 25 rushing yards made him the 10th player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and the first player in 10 years to do so. He finished the season with 1,005 rushing yards.

These players and other under classmen now face the challenge of replacing the senior leadership that helped lead the Falcons to the 2003 Motor City Bowl Championship.

The win gave the Falcons 11 wins for the third time in school history. They finished 11-1 in 1985 and 1993.