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Falcons fall to #2 Michigan in contest marred by injuries

Bowling+Green+takes+the+field+at+the+Big+House.
Drake Harlett
Bowling Green takes the field at the Big House.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A strong first half for Bowling Green kept it close, but a strong second half from the Wolverines pushed them over the top, coming out on top 31-6.

BG received the opening kick and started setting off fireworks from the get-go. On the first play from scrimmage, Camden Orth placed a rainbow pass down the right sideline, falling perfectly into Odieu Hiliare’s outstretched hands for a 30-yard gain.

The drive sputtered out following two checkdowns and a busted play that saw Orth lose the football while rolling to his right but recovering it before getting dropped for a loss of 12.

Following a punt from Sami Sir, Michigan got off to a hot start of their own. Michigan running back Blake Corum took his first carry 54 yards, taking the offense from their own 23-yard line to BG’s 23-yard line. After carries by Donovan Edwards and J.J. McCarthy got the Wolverines down to the 4-yard line, Corum finished it off, punching it in to give Michigan a 7-0 lead.

After a BG punt, Michigan was driving again. McCarthy was finally airing it out, connecting on his first two pass attempts before completing his third pass attempt in the end zone – to the wrong team. Jalen Huskey was there waiting in the back left corner of the end zone to force the Falcons’ first turnover of the game.

The offense drove down the field on a 62-yard drive fueled by Abdul-Fatai Ibrahim tipping a 33-yard pass up to himself and catching it on his back. The drive sputtered out, but still led to points; Alan Anaya nailed a 36-yard field goal to cut Michigan’s lead to four points.

Bowling Green got tricky on the ensuing kickoff – Freshman Jackson Kleather pooched the kick, catching Michigan off guard. Trent Simms laid a big hit on Max Bredeson, causing a fumble that Patrick Day was able to fall on, giving the Falcons the ball deep inside Michigan territory.

A nine-yard drive and a three-and-out led to Anaya’s second field goal of the day, good from 42 yards out.

It was now a one-point game in Ann Arbor.

Another pooch kick from Kleather almost gave BG the ball back after another fumble by Michigan’s hands team, but they were able to fall back on it. But it didn’t matter.

After a five-play drive, McCarthy was picked off again. This time it was Jordan Oladokun there to stunt Michigan’s drive.

Following the interception, a new signal caller entered the game for the Falcons. Hayden Timosciek, who transferred in from Purdue this offseason, entered the game for an injured Orth.

Orth’s final line: 8-for-11 passing for 91 yards in a quarter and a half.

With Timosciek in the game, the offense stagnated. Six of the team’s nine drives following Orth’s exit lasted four plays or fewer, three ending in turnovers.

With the offense continuously going three and out (or worse), the defense hardly got a chance to rest, leading to Michigan scoring another touchdown: McCarthy connected with Roman Wilson for a 33-yard touchdown pass for their sixth touchdown connection of the year.

The score came 21 in-game minutes after their first, which equates to nearly an hour of real time.

The next three drives before halftime: Timosciek intercepted, Michigan punt, Timosciek kneel to end the half.

An eight-point game.

Out of the break, BG’s defense forced a quick three-and-out, giving them the ball back on their own 15-yard line. Timosciek then threw a back foot interception to Michigan D-Lineman Kris Jenkins, bringing the Michigan offense back out in prime real estate. Corum was called upon again, scoring his second touchdown of the day from two yards out.

Two plays later, Timosciek had the ball knocked out of his hands for a fumble, recovered by the Wolverines’ Michael Barrett.

He finished the game completing six of his 10 passes for 33 yards, two interceptions, and a fumble lost.

After only a 51 second break, the defense came back on and only bent – holding Michigan to a field goal, extending their lead to 24-6.

Another three-and-out for Bowling Green led to another Michigan touchdown, this time Cornelius Johnson was on the receiving end of a 50-yard tip drill touchdown pass from McCarthy. A severely under thrown ball, Davon Ferguson made a play on it, but tipped it high into the air, leaving Johnson able to make a play on it.

McCarthy finished the game 8-of-13 passing for 143 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

That was the last score of the game. Three of the next four drives in the game resulted in punts. The only one that wasn’t a punt was McCarthy’s third interception of the game on an acrobatic play by Avi McGary.

BG and Michigan both punted on their next drives.

On the second-to-last drive of the game, the Falcons drove down the field on a 10-play drive, getting into the red zone before Anaya missed a 36-yard attempt, wide left. Michigan took one kneel and ended the game 31-6.

“I thought our kids battles, and I’m proud of them,” Coach Loeffler said at his post-game presser Saturday night. “They played their hearts out, and that’s one damn good Michigan team. That might be arguably the best defense that I’ve ever seen, and the offense reminds me of the ’99 offense. Super, super proud of our guys for coming in here and battling, not laying down.”

“We were put into some really, really tough circumstances. Proud of those guys who went in there that had never taken a practice rep this week.,” he continued. “Hayden [Timosciek] was J.J. McCarthy all week. We lost Connor on Thursday night, and then unfortunately, we lost Cam [Orth]. So, Hayden was put in a really, really tough circumstance and he battled his tail off.”

Those circumstances were three injuries to Bowling Green starters. Cam Orth left the game first, thrusting Timosciek into the spotlight. In the third quarter, defensive end Demetrius Hardamon had to be carted off following a tackle attempt on Colston Loveland. Then, a few drives later, tight end Levi Gazarek was also carted off following a short reception.

As of last night’s press conference, there is no update on the status of Hardamon.

“The football gods gave us some misfortune with injuries,” Loeffler said. “So, what we’re going to do, we’re going to get healthy and we’re going to find a way, come hell or high water, to overcome some injuries.”

“I might even come out of retirement,” joked Loeffler.

Loeffler also justified some head-scratching decisions, including kicking two field goals on fourth and short deep inside Michigan territory.

“Our quarterback had some major issues going on. Any other time, I’m going for it. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. All the players were yelling and then when they found out the reason why, they immediately said ‘Kick the field goal.’ It was about the health and safety of our quarterback,” he said. “Any other time, we’re going for it. But that’s someone’s kid.”

Next up on the docket for the Falcons: The conference opener and Homecoming against the Ohio Bobcats. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EST on September 16.

 

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