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The BG News
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November 30, 2023

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Keith’s historic night propels BG to bowl eligibility for second consecutive season

Ta’ron Keith running the ball

Bowling Green Football picked up a major road win Wednesday night, dismantling Kent State 49-19.  

The victory is the Falcons’ fourth straight, the first time BG has won four consecutive games in the Scot Loeffler era.  

“It’s unbelievable. I mean, started 2-4, rattled off four straight. It’s just awesome for the guys,” quarterback Camden Orth said. “(The key is) just move on to the next play. Just keep playing.” 

Bowling Green won the opening toss and deferred, giving the Flashes the ball to start. They drove down the field, but stalled out near the red zone and were forced to settle for a 48-yard field goal by Andrew Glass, giving Kent State their first and only lead of the night.  

The first drive was not pretty – a quick first down was marred by back-to-back penalties on the Falcons, and they were forced to punt the football away.

Kent showed signs of putting together another drive, but a fumble forced by Patrick Day gave BG the ball back with all the momentum.

After a holding penalty on first down, Ta’ron Keith began turning the wheels on his night for the history books with two straight carries.

An Odieu Hiliare big play from a screen had BG knocking on the end zone – Orth punched it in from one yard out. 

“They threw the slant there, and I came down and made the tackle. I didn’t know the ball came out until after, but it was a good play, and it just happened Darren (Anders) was in a good position there to pick up the ball,” Day said. I’ve got to thank my teammates for helping me out on that one.” 

This was the trend all night: Keith, Orth, Keith, Orth… 

“He’s so versatile that it’s hard to defend him, he ran run the ball, obviously catch the ball as well,” Orth said. “He’s a freak.” 

Kent State couldn’t get anything going, and BG’s defense was relentless. The Falcons brought down Kent’s Tommy Ulatowski four times in this one, the first coming from Darren Anders, his fifth sack of the season.  

Jhaylin Embry brought a punt back into Kent territory, and all Connor Bazelak needed was one play to put BG up 14-3, finding Harold Fannin Jr. for a 47-yard touchdown catch and run.  

“(Harold’s) Just a strong character guy, everyone here loves him. Makes everybody laugh. Obviously, shows he’s an unbelievable player as well,” Anders said postgame. “Huge part of our offense, huge part of our team, and we’re just happy to have him.”

Kent drove down the field again, threatening to score, but were held to yet another field goal. Bowling Green’s next drive was disrupted by a huge intentional grounding penalty on Bazelak, a penalty they wouldn’t recover from, punting it away again.

The Golden Flashes again marched down the field, getting just outside the red zone, and were forced to settle for another field goal. This time, Glass missed from 36 yards with a resounding ‘doink.’ 

With Orth now back at quarterback, the Falcons needed one more play than last time. Orth found Keith out of the backfield on first down for 29 yards, then found him again for a 45-yard touchdown, the second TD of the night for both.  

Disaster almost struck again for Kent; on the following kickoff, Xavier Williams fumbled the return, but was able to jump on top of it. It didn’t matter though, as the defense of Bowling Green forced Kent to punt again, and gave it back to Bazelak and company.

Bowling Green looked like they had a three-and-out of their own, but a gutsy play call by Loeffler for Jackson Kleather to call his own number and run for the first, which he did with room to spare.

The call paid off, as Orth scored from inside the five-yard line for his third of the day following another big play from Keith. 

On the final drive of the half, Kent began moving the ball at will, picking up first downs on three of their first four plays, but ran out of time and were forced to take a shot for the endzone, where Jalen Burton was waiting to pick off Ulatowski to end the half, Burton’s first of the season and second of his career. 

Bowling Green went into the break leading 28-6 and got the ball to open the second half.  

BG and Kent traded punts for nearly 10 game minutes before Kent scored their first touchdown of the game; Ulatowski took advantage of the Falcons’ aggressiveness and found Hayden Junker wide open up the seam, cashing in from 21 yards out. Bowling Green’s lead was now just 15.  

That was the only score of the third quarter. 

Bowling Green took over and controlled the ground game until they were faced with a third and short. With pressure coming in from behind, Bazelak rolled right and shoveled a pass into the air while being taken down, and Keith corralled it, easily picking up the first.

Orth came in at QB and had Finn Hogan wide open up the right sideline, but overthrew him a tad, turning a walk-in touchdown into first and goal. Keith finished the job, walking in untouched for six. Bowling Green now led 35-13.  

After forcing Kent to punt, Bazelak threw his seventh interception of the season to Bryce Sheppert, giving Kent the ball back. They took it all the way down the field and scored on a two-yard rush by Jalen Thomas, cutting the lead to just 16 points.

Their two-point try failed, 35-19.  

Embry returned the kick back to the Kent State 40-yard line, and Keith ripped off a big run to set BG up in the red zone. Orth got them within the confines of the five-yard line, and Jaison Patterson capped off the drive with his first rushing touchdown of the season.  

Bowling Green’s defense held Kent scoreless for the rest of the night, picking off Ulatowski one more time: Deshawn Jones Jr. nabbed another interception, almost taking it back for his second house call of the season, but was caught from behind at the 10-yard line.  

The defense’s 25th forced turnover of the season. 

Freshman quarterback Lucian Anderson III and the rest of the second unit came in, getting down to the one-yard line before Anderson took a keeper right and put his guys up 49-19.

The touchdown run was his first collegiate touchdown.  

After a quick turnover on downs by Kent, Bowling Green kneeled out the clock, earning them their sixth victory of the season and their fourth win in a row.  

Keith had a night that will live forever in the Bowling Green record books: nine carries, 103 yards, (career high) one touchdown. Eight receptions, 130 yards, (career high) and another touchdown.

He became the first player in BGSU history to have 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game. 

Also with the win, Bowling Green punches their ticket into bowl season and ascends to 6-4 (4-2 MAC), with a marquee matchup looming next week with the 9-1 (6-0 MAC) MAC West champion Toledo Rockets for the 88th installment of The “Battle of I-75.”

“It means everything, I’ve been here since 2019, we’ve had some rough times, and to be back-to-back going to a bowl game, it’s awesome,” Day said. All the guys here are excited, and it’s a great opportunity for us to play another game. Right now, we’re looking forward to the next game, that’s what we care about.” 

Kickoff from Doyt Perry Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m on November 14.  

For more stories related to BGSU Athletics, follow Falcon Media Sports Network on X (@bg_fmsn).

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