Falcons drop season-opener at WKU, look to grow for next opponent

The Bowling Green Falcons went into Friday’s game against Western Kentucky with the chance to prove on national television that all of the preseason accolades and hype were well deserved.

Instead, what was seen was the Hilltopper offense torching the Falcon defense for a school-record 702 yards of total offense on their way to a 59-31 home victory.

The Falcon defense struggled all night, giving the Hilltopper receivers plenty of wide-open receptions as well as missing a multitude of tackles in open space.

The defense made WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty’s job seem easy as he completed 46-56 passes for a school-record 569 yards and six touchdowns.

“We didn’t play to our abilities,” said senior defensive end Zach Colvin. “We have to look ourselves in the mirror, accept that, and get back to work.”

The struggles were not specifically put on the defense as the offense struggled early and on third down conversions. The Falcons were 4-10 on third down conversions compared to the Hilltopper’s 14-18.

After winning the coin toss and choosing to receive first they went three and out two drives in a row, not moving past their own 35 yard line until their third drive.

On first down of their second drive tight-end Chris Pohlman broke through the secondary and was wide-open behind the Hilltopper safeties, but dropped the pass from quarterback Matt Johnson.

“They played the same defense we saw on film,” Johnson said. “It just basically boiled down to execution.”

In their third drive they started to move the ball as they worked the it into the red zone. That drive stalled after a failed fourth down attempt on the Hilltopper 13 yard line. What was a called QB keep for Johnson was quickly picked up by

the defense.

“It was a designed keep but they [WKU] ran a twist and it messed up the blocking a little bit, unfortunately we weren’t able to get it,” Johnson said.

What had the chance to be a momentum changer for the Falcons turned into the first touchdown pass for Doughty.

The offense began to move the ball down the field at a consistent pace, showing the ‘Falcon Fast’ speed people were expecting when the second quarter began.

“We were just doing the little things right,” Johnson said. “First downs are the keys to this offense and to get first downs you have to do the little

things right.”

For as long as it took the Falcons to get into rhythm, the Hilltoppers stayed in rhythm and went into halftime up 31-10.

In the second half the Hilltopper offense continued it’s scoring pace against a defense that again struggled to tackle in open space.

“We didn’t tackle in space; you have to tackle in space. If you don’t tackle in space it’s going to be a long day,” said first year head coach Dino Babers. “It’s the fear of every football coach in the first game because you never get the opportunity to tackle enough.”

The Falcons got a stop in the third quarter and Johnson responded with a 41 yard touchdown pass to Ronnie Moore. That cut the Hilltopper lead to 14 points but that is the closest the Falcons would get the rest of the contest.

“It was a very poor effort,” Babers said. “I have to take full responsibility for that; a football team can’t play that bad unless the head football coach had something to do with it.”

The Falcons will return home for what Babers said will be a “rough week of practice,” as they prepare for their home opener against Virginia Military Institute [VMI] Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

“A football team grows more between the first and second game than any other game,” Babers said. “We are going to get back and grow.”