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September 21, 2023

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BG defense makes statement late

The Bowling Green defense has had a nightmare start to the year and entered Saturday’s game ranked last or close to last in most defensive categories.

Despite all of the scary numbers, all of the angry fans and all of the negative media coverage, that same defense continues to come up with big plays late in games.

“We know no matter what we have to fight,” senior linebacker Gabe Martin said. “Now we are in a position where our backs are up against the wall. Nobody thinks that we can be successful and every day we just go out and try to prove everybody wrong. We just play for each other.”

Prove people wrong is what they did as they were called upon to come up with another game-winning stop.

After a 42-yard kickoff return from Devin Campbell, the Bulls started their final drive on the BG 48-yard line with 2:11 left to play.

The Falcons defense came up with the important stop allowing, the Bulls only two yards on four plays.

“We went out there as a group knowing we were going to get off the field,” Martin said. “It was time to send a statement and let everyone know we were here. I think we did that.”

A statement was made, but it was with more than just that one stop, it was the entire second half.

The Falcon defense gave up 160 yards in the second half, including a third quarter where they gave up 22 yards on 14 plays.

That is the type of defense the Falcons expect to play each week, Martin said.

“I still think we have a lot to clean up from the second half as well as the first half,” he added. “For the most part production-wise that’s what we want to do as a defense.”

That production bought the offense time in the fourth quarter as they were held scoreless for four possessions in a row.

After Buffalo kicker Patrick Clarke missed a 33-yard field goal and the Falcons took over on their own 20 down 35-30, it seemed to be the spark that awoke the offense.

“It was a huge break for us missing that field goal,” quarterback James Knapke said. “We were confident going into it, we knew we just had to execute.”

The Falcons started their drive with 3:04 on the clock and drove 80 yards in 53 seconds behind two Ronnie Moore receptions of 40 and 36 yards. That drive was finished off by Fred Coppet’s four yard touchdown run.

“I felt like we put it together in that last drive when we had to,” Knapke said.

The Falcons drive took less than a minute off of the clock but head coach Dino Babers never had second thoughts of slowing down.

“Somebody said ‘We’re moving too fast; we need to slow down,’” Babers said. “I said ‘we aren’t slowing down; we are going to knock it in and whatever else is left the defense is going to stop them.’”

The numbers may not look great, but the Falcons are now 2-0 in Mid-American Conference play, and the defense continues to come up big when they are needed the most.

“Once again the statistics and numbers are not where you want them to be,” Babers said. “There are a lot of teams with statistics that are not sitting 2-0 at the top of their conference with an opportunity to still win this thing. That’s all we are asking for is an opportunity.”

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