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BG Football Noter: Aaron Donald disrupts Falcons' offensive line (12-27-13) PDF Print E-mail
Written by THOMAS SCHMELTZ/Sentinel Sports Writer   
Friday, 27 December 2013 02:58
DETROIT — Touted by Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst as “one of Pitt’s all-time best,” Aaron Donald proved to Bowling Green why he is widely considered the nation’s top defensive lineman.
The ACC defensive player of the year, a first-team All-American and winner of the Outland Trophy, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Lombardi Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award, Donald manhandled the Falcons’ offensive line Thursday.
In a 30-27 Pitt win over BG in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Donald led a defense that sacked BG quarterback Matt Johnson seven times and recorded another five tackles-for-loss. The Falcons allowed 34 sacks all season, entering the bowl game.
“We knew their (defensive) line was disruptive and we needed to keep them out of our backfield. And that didn’t happen,” said BG interim head coach Adam Scheier. “There was too much pressure on ‘Matty-J’ throughout the day.”
Donald, 6-foot, 285-pounds, combined sheer strength and a fierce swim move to maneuver his way through the Falcons’ offensive line. He had five tackles, two for a loss, and one sack, adding to his team-leading 26.5 tackles-for-loss and 10 sacks entering Thursday night’s game.
“Aaron Donald is everything he was hyped up to be,” said BG left guard Dominic Flewellyn. “We tried to double him. We tried to let other people have one-on-ones and other players made plays as well. Keeping ‘Matty-J’ clean was tough for us.”
While Donald’s numbers against BG may not have been eye-popping, the attention he garnered helped the rest of the Panthers defense hold the Falcons to just 10 yards rushing — well below their season average of 207.5 yards per game. Johnson’s seven sacks, which is the second most in LCPB history, totaled negative 55 yards.
“Going into the game we had a game plan of basically sliding our protection to him and he was still disruptive,” Flewellyn said of Donald.
“He can just get in the backfield, which causes the quarterback to either shift right or left, and that leaves all the other blockers one-on-one,” Flewellyn added.
VERSATILE: Pitt running back James Conner, named the bowl game MVP, ran for 229 yards, breaking Pitt’s bowl record of 202 yards, held by Tony Dorsett in the 1977 Sugar Bowl. A freshman, Conner also saw time at defensive end, although he did not record any tackles.
UNIFORMS: The Falcons brought out a new look, wearing gray jersey tops against Pitt. The jerseys were worn for the first time this year, but were not bought specifically for the bowl game as they were purchased before the season.
“It was unexpected,” Flewellyn said of the new jerseys. “We all liked the look, but it’s us playing out there. The uniforms are just for one game so we still play for the name on the front, which is Bowling Green.”
DINO: New BG coach Dino Babers attended the game, spending most of his time on the sidelines.
PUNTS: Senior punter Brian Schmiedebusch set BG bowl game records for punting average and longest punt. Schmiedebusch punted five times, averaging 54.6 yards per kick. His long was 67 yards, which is third longest in LCPB history.
TATE: Falcons kicker Tyler Tate finished with 113 points this season, which is sixth most in school history. He was 59-of-61 on PAT attempts and connected on 18 field goals, second most in school history behind Brian Leaver’s 21 in 1994.
RETURNS: BG defensive back Jerry ‘BooBoo’ Gates had 165 kickoff return yards, second in LCPB history behind Florida International’s T.Y. Hilton in 2010. Gates opened the second half by returning the kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. The scoring return was the second longest in the bowl’s history, and tied for the longest in BG school history.
ATTENDANCE: Pitt and BG played in front of the bowl’s second smallest crowd, a contingent of 26,259. The smallest crowd was last year’s game between Central Michigan and Western Kentucky, which drew a crowd of 23,310.
QUICK HITTERS: Tate’s 46-yard field goal was BG’s longest in a bowl game ... BG running back Travis Greene finished the season with 1,594 yards, a BG single-season record ... Johnson’s 3,647 passing yards were fourth most in school history for a single season ... Gates averaged 30.6 yards per kick return, a single-season school record ... Schmiedebusch’s 178 career punts are the fifth-most in school history ... Ted Ouellet finished his career with 10.5 sacks, which is 11th-most in school history ... Pitt’s Tyler Boyd’s 173 receiving yards tied Randy Moss for third most receiving yards in LCPB history.
Last Updated on Friday, 27 December 2013 10:35
 

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