Rose Bowl experience should pay off for Falcons on Saturday

Bowling Green State University led UCLA 17-7 early in the second quarter last Saturday at the Rose Bowl, and then the Bruins scored 38 unanswered points to win 45-17 in both teams’ season opener.

The early lead was sparked by a blocked punt, leading to a BGSU touchdown just 1:14 into the game.

The Falcons held UCLA to a three-and-out to begin the game, and on the ensuing Bruin punt attempt, BGSU junior PaSean Wimberly came up the middle and blocked the punt.

Sophomore Charles Rosser picked up the ball and ran it in for a touchdown as senior Mason Lawler added the conversion kick, giving BGSU a quick 7-0 lead.

“After watching the tape, I felt that we did some really good things on special teams,” BGSU coach Scot Loeffler said. “I thought PaSean Wimberly was exceptional and it’s not a surprise. He is unbelievable in practice.

“The blocked punt I thought was a great momentum swing and gave us an opportunity early. Overall, I thought our special teams were good.”

Lawler added a 24-yard field goal later in the first quarter and senior quarterback Matt McDonald followed with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Christian Sims early in the second.

BGSU never scored again. Offensively, BGSU was just 2-for-16 on third down.

“It was completely execution. There wasn’t anything to sit here and say that UCLA stopped us,” Loeffler said.

“There was nothing shocking that we didn’t practice. That was, just like I said, if it wasn’t the offensive line, it was the tight end group.

“If it wasn’t the tight end group, it was the wide receiver group. It wasn’t the wide receiver group; it was the quarterback. All 11 have got to be firing on the same on the same page.”

On the other side of the ball, UCLA’s offense ran right past and through the Falcons’ defense, accumulating 357 yards passing and 269 yards rushing.

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more for the Bruins. Thompson-Robinson had 298 yards passing, and Zach Charbonnet ran for 111 yards and a score.

“We missed too many tackles and when you let a guy like that loose, he’s going to make you pay. So, we missed some tackles that we regret but I thought the overall effort by the defense was exceptional,” Loeffler said.

“I was majorly disappointed, just like I said, just because we play a good defense every day and there’s been only one time during training camp that I felt that way,” Loeffler continued. “And again, I felt that way on Saturday. So, long and short of it, we’ve got to go out and do it on game day. We need to do what we did during training camp and go out and make plays.”

Two BGSU inside linebackers, Joseph Sipp Jr. and D.J. Taylor, stepped up in their debuts as Falcons.

Sipp notched 10 tackles in his collegiate debut. Taylor, a transfer from Wake Forest, notched his first career interception, returning it 24 yards. Taylor also tied his career high with eight tackles.

Colonels come to the Doyt

Loeffler said BGSU needs to clean up its act on offense and defense when Eastern Kentucky comes to Doyt Perry Stadium on Saturday for a 4 p.m. kickoff.

It is the sixth meeting all-time between Eastern Kentucky and BGSU. Eastern Kentucky won the first three games, played between 1940-50,

The last time BGSU and Eastern Kentucky met in 2003, P.J. Pope ran for three touchdowns and Josh Harris threw for two as the Falcons prevailed, 63-13.

On Saturday, Eastern Kentucky was about an hour north in Ypsilanti, Michigan, to take on Eastern Michigan, falling to the Eagles 42-34.

Loeffler said the Falcons cannot have a letdown hosting an FCS school out of the Atlantic Sun Conference school. The Colonels have the talent to compete with any FBS member, Loeffler said.

“I think, defensively, they’re very athletic. I think, up front, they’re big and strong. I don’t know how much depth they have, but I do know that the guys that they trot on the field that are starters are very good,” Loeffler said.

“I think the skill is great. The linebackers can run. The outside backer, the Sam (strongside linebacker) is a really good football player that I think can start on a lot of teams on in our conference,” Loeffler continued.

Eastern Kentucky redshirt junior quarterback Parker McKinney completed 35-of-51 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles last week.

“I think the quarterback is extremely efficient. They throw the ball well. When you got a good quarterback and good defense, you know they’re going to have a really good season, and we’re going to have to come out and play our best,” Loeffler said.

“There’s no such thing in college football as gimmies anymore. You never know who you’re going to walk into because of the transfer portal,” he said. “We’re going to have to bring our A-game, but we’re going to bring our A-game every game. That’s just college football now.”