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April 18, 2024

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Falcons fall 30-24 to Minnesota in 2023 Quick Lane Bowl

The Falcon offense in the huddle

Bowling Green and Minnesota met for the 5th time ever this Tuesday afternoon at this year’s Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.

The game started in favor of Bowling Green as the opening kick went their way and it only took quarterback Connor Bazelak 3 plays to find wide receiver Odieu Hiliare for 47 yards for the touchdown giving Bowling Green the early momentum lead at 7-0.  

“It was very big because in-game football momentum is very important, said Hiliare. “I created some momentum for us on the sideline of the fans’ launch, so you know, when it’s scoring our way you’ll know It’s always good. It helps us keep moving forward.” 

Hiliare played his final game in a Falcon uniform, and he left all of it out there as he went for 152 yards and a touchdown. 

Despite only playing two seasons with the Falcons, transferring to Bowling Green changed Hiliare as a person and a player. 

“For me coming to BG was like big stuff and so you know, trying to reach different goals or aspirations I have for myself, and without BG that won’t be possible to be quite honest,” said an emotional Hiliare after the game. “So it gave me a better chance and I wanted to come here and help.”

After Hiliare’s touchdown, Minnesota showed no signs that this would be a repeat of the 2021 game between the two teams. 

On the following drive, Minnesota went 13 plays for 75 yards to put the Golden Gophers on the board with six points. The Gophers would then fake the extra point in an attempt for a two-point conversation but were stopped short of the goal line. The score remained 7-6 in favor of Bowling Green. 

After that, it was all defense for the next couple of drives for both teams.  

A turnover on downs for Bowling Green and then punts by both schools left Minnesota with the ball with just over 11 minutes left in the second quarter. A drive that ended with three points for the Gophers with a 31-yard field goal by Dragan Keisch to make it a 9-7 Minnesota with just under nine minutes in the half.  

The two teams then exchanged punts yet again until Minnesota had the ball at their 29-yard line looking to bleed out the clock to halftime. That was until outside linebacker Cashius Howell hit Minnesota quarterback Cole Kramer whose pass landed right into the hand of safety Darius Lorfils who brought it back to the Gopher’s 15-yard line. 

But a three-and-out led to the field goal unit being called out which was successful as Alan Anaya made it 10-9. 

A punt for Minnesota on the following drive gave Bowling Green the ball back with just under 30 seconds; however, Bazelak took a knee and the Falcons went into the lockeroom with a 10-9 lead.

Minnesota then came out to start the third quarter using over 5 and a half minutes of clock and scoring on their opening drive of the second half which gave them the 16-10 lead. 

After that, it seemed like it was Minnesota in this quarter.  

They forced Bowling Green with a three-and-out on their next drive and right after BG punted it, PJ Fleck and Minnesota turned on the jets as they went right down the field yet again and scored making it 23-10. 

Bowling Green still couldn’t get anything going on offense in the third quarter as they yet again had to punt it away, but the Falcon’s defense came up big and forced the Gophers to punt into the fourth quarter.  

Bowling Green got the ball just as the fourth quarter started and off the first play the senior running back PaSean Wimberly took 42 yards and right away BG was knocking on the door in Minnesota territory. 

A few positive plays later led to Wimberly on a jet sweep going 18 yards finding the endzone for six and making it a ballgame at 23-17 with just over 11 minutes.  

Wimberly knew he needed to give the Falcons a spark on offense. 

“Going into that drive, I knew we just needed an explosion, it’s just the biggest thing for the offense,” said Wimberly. “So like me being the difference maker I want it to be that that started the kickstart for that drive and obviously ended with a touchdown.” 

Head coach Scot Loeffler also had words to say about PaSean’s two enormous plays on offense and mentioned how this game is a game of fine margins.  

“We got the right look and then on his touchdown, that was a bash. We were running QB zone, reading the end and Cam made a great decision to hand the ball off,” said Loeffler. “We did a great job of blocking the perimeter but you know you look back in the game of inches.” 

Minnesota then took the kick-off 50 yards to midfield and took another five plays to find the endzone to make it 30-17. 

Bowling Green got the ball back with eight minutes to go at their 25-yard line and with a must-respond mentality which they did but it took over six minutes as they did end up finding the endzone with just over two minutes to go as Bazelak ran it in from the one-yard line.  

It led them to have to onside kick for their final hope and with a great effort, Minnesota fell on top of the ball before the Bowling Green defender got to it ultimately ending the game and the season for the Falcons as Minnesota defeated Bowling Green 30-24 in an exciting and entertaining Quick Lane Bowl.  

This game saw a bit of a different formula to the game plan than usual, as first-string running back Terion Stewart was out with his leg injury, and running back two Ta’ron Keith was in the transfer portal, it led to a different look in the backfield which made Loeffler rely heavy on the passing game 

“The fact of the matter is we rolled the bones and tried to win it through the air, there was no secret that’s what we were going to do and it just didn’t work out today,” said Loeffler. “You got to be able to run the ball and they ran the ball, they couldn’t throw it from me to you, and the team that rushes the ball generally wins.” 

Despite the loss, Loeffler said the game shouldn’t be looked at in a bad light for the Falcons.

“I thought both teams played extremely hard, both teams had some adversity that had to overcome with people not playing and my hat’s off to Minnesota, they were able to make a few more plays than us,” said Loeffler. “But overall, we can’t look at this as a negative, we lost the football game but we played our tails off.” 

Bowling Green did end the season on a loss but still ended the season with a winning record at 7-6. 

Bowling Green has a lot of starters returning to the team for 2024, and Loeffler is itching to start back up again and wants it to be known that this team will be dangerous in 2024. 

“What I said to our guys is, you know, we’ve come up short in Ford Field twice now and we’ve got our dress rehearsals here now,” said Loeffler. “We’ll be back, let’s just put it that way, we’ll be back at Ford Field in a theater near you.” 

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

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