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September 29, 2023

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Falcons return to ‘BG Football’

The whole focus of this past week, after losing to Indiana, was returning to BG football.

Coach Clawson said it, quarterback Matt Johnson said it and even a guy I met at a convenience store said it. Needless to say, no one was playing BG football at Indiana.

But fear not John from Circle K, BG returned to BG football this weekend against Murray State.

Granted the Falcons were playing an FCS school, but Murray State is a good FCS school. The MAC has lost two games to FCS schools already this season. Western Michigan lost to Nicholls State and UMass lost to Maine. Following the game Saturday, MAC powerhouse Northern Illinois almost lost to Eastern Illinois, so no FCS team can really be overlooked.

BG started off to their old tricks before getting comfortable. The Falcons scored early, however, kicker Tyler Tate missed the extra point forcing flashbacks of this past season. Murray State then drove down the field before carelessly fumbling the ball on the one yard line.

Credit the defense with the fumble, but the quarterback Maikhail Miller practically dropped it the second he was hit.

Momentum started to favor the Falcons in the second quarter where they scored 21 points unanswered. Quarterback Matt Johnson looked poised as ever as he expertly orchestrated BG down the field three times.

In the second quarter running back Travis Greene capped off a 99-yard drive, which would tie a school record for longest scoring drive.

Full disclosure, I didn’t look it up, but it would have to be a record unless they somehow spotted the ball on the infamous “inches” yard line, which would make a record of 99 and “inches.” Not to argue semantics, but it was impressive nonetheless.

The following drive was 97 yards, proving that distance didn’t really matter when the offense was clicking.

Johnson described the team’s focus as getting two first downs and then whatever else is a bonus. Johnson threw for two “bonuses” and an interception.

The effectiveness of the running game really opened up holes for Johnson to find his receivers. Eleven receivers in all caught passes while 7 different players rushed the ball which spread Murray State’s defense out earning 660 yards of total offense— the most under Clawson’s era.

The racers only real momentum came from a drive of 83 yards halfway through the third quarter. The drive opened up some weaknesses for the BG secondary. On four separate occasions, Miller threw to his right side on a WR streak. Twice he drew pass interference calls and twice he was just unable to hit his wide open receiver. The last pass interference was on a third and long giving the Racers an automatic first down in the red-zone.

Johnson sat out the final drive of the third quarter allowing Matt Schilz to come in. Schilz had 63 yards on five completions. He did almost throw an interception right to the Murray State cornerback, as no orange jersey was near the pass.

Third string quarterback James Knapke came in with five minutes left to play. Knapke broke his high school’s record in passing yards. He was also the first quarterback to lead his school to three straight state titles in Indiana. He went four for four in his first series passing the ball, and he looked electric.

He had a 33-yard pass just before completing a 17-yard touchdown pass.

Knapke stood in the pocket before the pressure collapsed it and he began to dart forward looking to run the ball into the empty space. He drew the linebacker forward and just before getting the line of scrimmage he threw a gem of a pass. The ball dropped like a soccer ball with top spin right over the linebacker and under the safety right into the arms of Ronnie Moore.

It was honestly the best pass I’ve seen out of BG this season, and I expect Knapke to have a bright future at BG. But for now, it’s another win under the Falcons belt, and looking forward to two easily winnable games with Akron and UMass to extend their win streak.

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