|BG's Alex Bayer (left) is pulled down by Toledo's Junior Sylvestre (33). (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
The Bowling Green Falcons’ defense was right where it wanted to be in the last six minutes of Saturday’s game with arch-rival Toledo.
The Falcons, who trailed 21-0 at one point, took a 25-21 lead with 5:52 remaining to play in the game.
However, Toledo’s Terrance Owens and Alonzo Russell crushed Bowling Green’s hopes for a victory, combining for a touchdown with 1:22 left in the game to put UT ahead to stay, 28-25.
Bowling Green got one first down in the final seconds, but had third and fourth down passes fall incomplete. Toledo then ran out the clock to preserve the victory.
“We wanted the game in our hands,” said BG’s Paul Swan, a fifth-year senior linebacker, about the defense. “They just chipped away and chipped away, and we couldn’t get off the field. And that killed us.
“(On) that last drive, we had a third-and-26, and a fourth-and-nine. We have to get off the field. That just can’t happen,’’ Swan added.
On the second play after BG had taken the 25-21 lead, Owens connected with Bernard Reedy for a 32-yard gain, giving the Rockets the ball at BG’s 38-yard line.
UT then worked the ball down to a first-and-10 at the 12-yard line, but a pass interference penalty helped push the Rockets back to a third-and-26 at BG’s 28-yard line.
Owens scrambled for 17 yards on third down. Then on a fourth-and-nine from the 11-yard line, Owens found Russell for the eventual winning touchdown.
‘‘I had to get as much as I could,’’ Owens said about the third-down play.
“We had a three-man rush, and he did a nice job taking off,” BG head coach Dave Clawson said of Owens’ third-down run.
To score the touchdown, UT head coach Matt Campbell broke out a play his team hadn’t used in a long time. He couldn’t remember the last time the Rockets ran it, but said ‘‘it’s been awhile.’’
Russell had the option of going outside, or coming inside across the middle, and he went inside.
“We were doubling the guy who caught the touchdown, and he beat us,’’ Clawson said. ‘‘He ran a great route, and the throw was on the money. They had a really well-executed play.”
The Falcons again started the game slowly, but were able to battle back.
BG gained some needed momentum with a touchdown drive late in the first half, to cut UT’s lead to 21-7 on Matt Johnson’s 1-yard run.
Toledo started the second half with the ball, but BG’s Gabe Martin forced a fumble with teammate D.J. Lynch recovering the ball at UT’s 29-yard line.
The Falcons moved to a fourth-and goal from the 1-yard line, but got hit with a false start penalty, and had to settle for a 23-yard field goal from Tyler Tate to pull within 21-10.
On BG’s next possession, the Falcons went 77 yards in nine plays with Travis Greene scoring on a 7-yard run. Johnson passed to Alex Bayer for the 2-point conversion, and the Falcons had cut the Rockets lead to 21-18 with 14:34 to play.
BG’s defense forced another punt, and the Falcons converted three third downs to help set up another 7-yard TD run for Greene. With Tate’s PAT, BG pulled ahead 25-21.
However, the Falcons could not hold on.
‘‘We’re going to have to rally back. We have a good football team,’’ Clawson said. ‘‘A lot of the things we want to accomplish as a football team are still very much attainable.
TOLEDO 28, BOWLING GREEN 25
Toledo 7 14 0 7 — 28
Bowling Green 0 7 3 15 — 25
Tol—Hunt, 1 run (Detmer kick), 5:54. Drive: 7 plays, 77 yards, 3:17.
Tol—Russell, 5 pass from Owens (Detmer kick), 9:42. Drive: 18 plays, 89 yards, 8:45.
Tol—Reedy, 9 pass from Owens (Detmer kick), 4:27. Drive: 8 plays, 67 yards, 3:07.
BG—Johnson, 1 run (Tate kick), :24. Drive: 12 plays, 81 yards, 3:55.
BG —Tate 23, field goal, 8:46. Drive: 8 plays, 23 yards, 3:49.
BG—Tra.Greene, 7 run (Bayer pass from Johnson), 14:34. Drive: 9 plays, 77 yards, 4:13.
BG—Tra.Greene, 7 run (Tate kick), 5:59. Drive: 10 plays, 84 yards, 5:52.
Tol—Russell, 11 pass from Owens (Detmer kick), 1:22. Drive: 10 plays, 70 yards, 4:32.
First downs 21 19
By rushing 12 9
By passing 6 8
By penalty 3-2
Rushes-yards 41-242 36-135
Passing 130 208
Comp-Att-Int 15-23-0 17-26-0
Avg, gain per play 5.8 5.5
Sacks-yards lost 1-7 6-32
Punts-Avg. 2-38.5 2-29.0
Punt returns 0-0 0-0
Kickoff returns 4-67 2-57
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 7-69 5-34
3rd-down conversions 5-11 9-15
4th-down conversions 1-1 1-3
Red-zone conversions 4-4 4-4
Time of Possession 31:12 28:48
RUSHING—Toledo, Hunt 21-114, Fluellen 3-61, Owens 10-59, Jones-Moore 4-12, Team 3-(minus 4). Bowling Green, Tra.Greene 19-96, Johnson 14-29, Moore 1-6, Coppet 1-3, Hopgood 1-1.
PASSING—Toledo, Owens 15-23-0-130. Bowling Green, Johnson 17-26-0-208.
RECEIVING—Toledo, Russell 8-56, Reedy 3-60, Hunt 3-8, Olack 1-6. Bowling Green, H.Jackson 7-72, Joplin 3-64, Burbrink 3-20, Bayer 2-35, Cohen 1-12, Beck 1-5.