Falcons win tough season opener against Tulsa

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Falcons come together for a tackle on Tulsa running back Trey Watts.

Sports Editor and Sports Editor

Quarterback Matt Schilz started BG’s home opener Thursday night but it was backup quarterback Matt Johnson who stole the show in front of a packed Doyt Perry Stadium and a national audience on ESPN.

Head Coach Dave Clawson was not surprised to see his team win, but a 34-7 win against the defending Conference-USA champions was quite the surprise.

“I really hoped that we’d be the more physical team,” Clawson said. “Did I think we were going to beat them by 27? No. Did I think we could win? Yes. I believed we could win this game.”

The first two drives for each team ended in punts but BG’s defense made a big impression on Tulsa’s senior running backs. The Golden Hurricane were only able to gain 46 yards in the first half.

After Tulsa’s third failed drive, BG got the ball back, but it wasn’t starting quarterback Matt Schilz who came back out for the Falcons, it was backup quarterback Matt Johnson.

“Matt Johnson had still practiced well and we made the decision to start Matt Schilz,” Clawson said. “We told both quarterbacks that if they both continued to practice the way that they were practicing, they would both play. So, before the game we made the decision to put Johnson in the third or fourth series depending on things were going … We put Matt [Johnson] in and I think he gave us a spark.”

Johnson led the Falcons down the field with an 18-yard pass to wide receiver Chris Gallon, a 12-yard pass to tight end Alex Bayer. BG was forced to kick a field goal after a one-yard run by running back Travis Greene and two-straight incomplete passes that put the Falcons up 3-0 with 3:29 remaining in the first quarter.

Tulsa looked to match BG’s field goal on the following drive, but after a drive that included 21-consecutive rushing yards and a 37-yard pass from quarterback Cody Green to wide receiver Jordan James, the Golden Hurricane was forced to kick a field goal after a series of incomplete passes.

Johnson committed the game’s first turnover with an interception to Tulsa defensive back Dwight Dobbins, who returned the pass for 11 yards.

“It was completely on me,” Johnson said. “Chris [Gallon] ran a good route, I just threw it inside, but immediately coming off the field coach Clawson was clapping telling me to keep my head up. So I knew I was going to get another shot.”

Tulsa then pushed up close to the endzone but after Tulsa wide receiver Derek Patterson caught an eight-yard pass from quarter back Cody Green, he fumbled the ball and BG took over on its own two-yard line.

The second half was highlighted by three touchdowns by running back William Houston (two in the third quarter and one in the fourth) and a punt return touchdown by Ryan Burbrink in the fourth quarter.

Tulsa was only able to score once, on a 27-yard pass from backup quarterback Dane Evans to Patterson with just less than six minutes left in the game.

“We’ll enjoy this for 24-hours and then we have a huge game a week from Saturday up at Kent.” Clawson said.

The Falcons will travel to Kent State University to take on the Golden Flashes next Saturday at Noon.