MU offensive struggles set up loss to Falcons
By MIKE SMITH
BOWLING GREEN, OH - It was a battle of struggling offenses. In the end, the home offense did enough to win Saturday as Bowling Green edged Miami 17-13.
The Falcons (3-4, 2-1 MAC) entered Saturday ranked 10th among MAC teams in total offense, while Miami 3-4, 1-2 MAC) was No. 11, with a mere five-yard difference between the two.
The RedHawks had made their struggles work a week earlier when they upset high-powered Kent State 24-17. This time, however, MU was on the road, and this time its opponent virtually shut down the RedHawk run game.
Miami owned 415 yards of offense overall and churned out 236 on the ground against Kent State. Bowling Green, however, limited . . .
. . . the RedHawks to 98 yards rushing and 189 total yards. In fact, the Falcons held a 21-10 advantage in first downs, with BGSU allowing the visitors just three second half first downs. Two of those came on one drive, and the second of those two was followed by a turnover (fumble).
The RedHawks only points after intermission came on a 39-yard Graham Nicholson field goal. Miami got that opportunity courtesy of a Bowling Green fumble of the second-half kickoff. Nolan Johnson recovered for the RedHawks, but they were unable to get a first down and settled for the field goal. That put them in front 13-7.
With Miami unable to move the ball, BGSU enjoyed short fields through much of the second half. Two possessions later, the Falcons took over just inside MU territory and finished a nine-play drive with Mason Lawler’s 22-yard field goal. That reduced the RedHawk lead to 13-10.
After a Miami fumble, BGSU missed a chance for more points when Lawler’s 31-yard attempt bounced off an upright. However Bowling Green came back for more on its next possession. Quarterback Matt McDonald completed three passes in five plays to move BGSU in the red zone. Ta’ron Keith then covered the last 19 yards as he weaved his way through the middle of Miami’s defense. With the PAT, Bowling Green owned a 17-13 advantage.
That turned out to be enough as MU managed just 33 yards (26 on one run by QB Aveon Smith) and one first down before punting away.
The RedHawks got one more chance after a BGSU punt. There was 3:23 left when MU took over at its own 25-yard line. However, the Red and White could not move the chains and Bowling Green took over to run out the final 2:38.
Miami tallied the game’s first score on a 41-yard Nicholson field goal early in the first period. Two possessions later, BGSU appeared ready to take the lead, but Yahsyn McKee ended the 13-play drive with an interception in the end zone. That turned out to be a temporary obstacle as the RedHawks were quickly forced to punt. This time, Bowling Green finished its drive with a 1-yard TD run by Harrold Fannin Jr.
Miami retook the lead on its final drive of the half. After forcing the Falcons to punt from their own end zone, MU drove 43 yards in four plays. Three were passes by Smith. The last went to Miles Marshall in the back right corner of the end zone.
Smith finished the day 9 of 17 for 91 yards and a TD. He also ran 14 times for 55 yards. Remaining RedHawk runners combined for 43 yards on 20 trips (2.15 ypc) Jalen Walker (3) was the only RedHawk with over two catches, but he led MU receivers with 45 yards.
McDonald, meanwhile, completed 16 of 29 pass attempts for 149 yards in spite of several drops. He was intercepted once. Jaison Patterson led rushers with 18 trips for 94 yards.
Defensively, Michael Dowell led Miami defenders with 17 tackles (nine solo) and a sack. Ryan McWood registered 11 stops with one TFL. Darren Anders and DJ Taylor owned seven stops apiece for BGSU. Demetrius Hardamon recorded three TFL among five tackles.
~~ Like Miami, Bowling Green’s offense was relatively balanced (149 passing, 176 rushing) . There was just more of it. The 325 yards of Falcon offense wasn’t particularly impressive on its own, but it was enough to give BGSU favorable field position over MU (189 total yards). It was also enough to sustain some key drives. Meanwhile, Miami had four plays or less on seven of its final 10 drives after the opening possession.
~~ Bowling Green owned a 33:03 - 26:57 edge in time of possession.
~~ Miami was flagged six times for 60 yards, while the Falcons drew eight penalties for 85 yards. Of the latter, 75 yards came before intermission.
~~ Former Indiana receiver Miles Marshall has three catches in the last two games. One went for 78 yards to set up a touchdown against Kent State . The other was for a 19 yards and a TD at Bowling Green.
Editor-Publisher Mike Smith
Mike grew up in Mid-American Conference football and basketball territory and returned there after military service. He has been covering MAC football and men's basketball for much of the last several decades.