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When the going got tough, the tough got lost

BGSU+and+UT+linemen+squaring+off
Keira Ellenberger
BGSU and UT linemen squaring off

Bowling Green lost a heartbreaker to their rival up the road, Toledo. After leading 28-10 at half, the Falcons allowed the Rockets to score 15 unanswered and outscore them 22-3 in the second half en route to a 32-31 loss.

After lighting off fireworks play after play in the first half, scoring on four of five drives, it all came to a screeching halt.

After Toledo drove down and scored on their opening possession, Bowling Green answered back in just 45 seconds, riding the hot hands of Ta’ron Keith and Harold Fannin Jr., and the hot right arm of Connor Bazelak.

The defense stopped Toledo over, and over, and over, and the offense kept scoring over, and over, and over. Fannin and Keith combined to score 21 of BG’s 28 first half points.

And then, just like that, they disappeared in the second half.

At halftime, Keith had seven carries for 27 yards and a touchdown to go with six catches for 44 yards. He finished with 15 carries for 68 yards and the same touchdown with 7 catches for 51 yards.

Fannin had 89 yards and two touchdowns on five catches. In the second half, he was targeted just once.

“They took their number one corner, we had matchups on them in the second half, and then they put their best corner on Harold,” head coach Scot Loeffler said postgame Tuesday. “We had a miscommunication, we had a home run on a man answer and we adjusted it like it was zone, which would’ve given Harold a huge touch. Unfortunately, like I said, they made one more play than us.”

Bazelak, who was on fire for three quarters and was statistically having his best game as a member of the team, missed the final three drives, the most crucial of the game, due to an injury he suffered in the second half.

“Second half, I got banged up and I was taking some hits,” he said. “I think after they saw they were down 28 to 10 they’re like ‘Oh, we’ve got to go.’ So, hats off to them. They turned it on in the second half and they were tough to block.”

The defense, statistically one of the top units in the country and had been playing like it, fizzled out in crunch time. They allowed Toledo to convert a third-and-six, pick up seven yards on a third-and-nine, and left Jacquez Stuart wide open on the fourth-and-two touchdown that ended up as the game-winner, all on the same drive.

If you take away the 59-yard touchdown by Stuart, the secondary held Toledo’s high-octane passing offense to just 220 passing yards on 19 completions (11.5 yards per catch) and a touchdown. Add the final play back in, and the line jumps to 279 yards on 20 completions (13.95 yards per catch) and two touchdowns.

“Had a bust on defense at the end. Those things happen, unfortunately that one just happened at the wrong time,” Loeffler said. “There was a mistake. That’s all I’m going to get into. I refuse to point blame on anyone. There was a mistake twice that occurred on two of their big plays, it’s unfortunate.”

With the end result, a new piece of lore is etched into the history of the ever-exciting Battle of I-75; Tri-break gang M-right 60 M-roll Z-win. Or, in Lehman’s terms, “Get a win,” as Toledo’s Jason Candle eloquently put it.

That was the name of the play that Stuart took nearly 60 yards to paydirt and forever implanted the junior running back on this game.

While there’s nothing left for Bowling Green to do with this one but wait the near-calendar year, plotting your revenge to take back the trophy, there are still two more games to be played.

Next up, BG travels up to Kalamazoo for a battle with Western Michigan (4-7, 3-4 Mid-American Conference) on November 21. With a victory, BG would clinch their first winning season since 2015.

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

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