Bowling Green got a push from its offensive line and the Falcons’ defense played physical football, leading to a 17-13 Mid-American Conference win over Miami at Doyt L. Perry Stadium Saturday.
“We had a great game plan,” BGSU coach Scot Loeffler said. “If you go and do the same old, same old versus Miami of Ohio, they’re going to crush you in the run game.
“We did a bunch of things in the run game that we haven’t done all year long.”
BGSU improves to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in the MAC, while Miami falls to 3-4 and 1-2. The RedHawks came into the game with wins over Northwestern and Kent State already behind them.
BGSU sophomore running back Jaison Patterson ran for a game-high 94 yards as the Falcons gained 176 yards on the ground as a team.
Two sophomore running backs also played big roles. Jamal Johnson ran for 31 yards on six carries and Ta’ron Keith ran for 21 yards on four carries and one touchdown. Keith credited the offensive line for taking over at the line of scrimmage and giving them space.
The 176 yards rushing are the most Miami has given up all year. The RedHawks entered the game No. 9 in the nation in rush defense, allowing 88.8 rushing yards per game.
On the other side of the ball, the BGSU defense held the RedHawks to just 189 total yards, including 98 rushing and 91 passing.
“The defensive line did a fantastic job locking down that run,” said BGSU senior outside linebacker Demetrius Hardamon.
“We had an emphasis of stopping the run today to help the team win. It felt good to bounce back from last week when we didn’t play our best ball.”
Keith broke a tackle and scored from 19-yards with 11:31 left in the game to give BGSU the lead, and the Falcon defense held the RedHawks on Miami’s final two offensive possessions of the game.
“They made one more play than us, they had one more drive than us,” Miami coach Chuck Martin said.
“Disappointing, no doubt. Our kids fought hard and had a chance to win it, and just didn’t get it done in the end.”
Keith more than made up for his fumble early in the first quarter on a kick return, which led to a Miami field goal. He said it was not about redemption, but about letting his mistakes go.
“I had to have short-term memory loss to push forward and to keep playing,” Keith said.
BGSU 6-foot-4, 230-pound freshman tight end Harold Fannin Jr., who Loeffler believes could be an NFL first round draft pick someday, scored a second-quarter touchdown on a one-yard run. Fannin later had a career-long 24-yard rush.
Senior kicker Mason Lawler hit a third quarter field goal to get the Falcons within three points before Keith’s fourth-quarter score put the home team ahead for good.
BGSU senior quarterback Matt McDonald completed 16-of-29 passes for 149 yards, including three to 6-7 junior wide receiver Tyrone Broden for 42 yards. McDonald said it was not his stats he was happy for, but the win.
“We want this feeling after every game but there are a lot of things to clean up,” McDonald said. “Especially offensively, we will watch film and clean some stuff up and get back at it Monday.”
The 6-4, 230-pound Hardamon had three tackles for loss, including a pair of sacks. On one of his sacks Hardamon stripped the football, resulting in a fumble by Miami quarterback Aveon Smith. Junior defensive lineman Dontrez Brown recovered at the Miami 34-yard line.
“I was kind of excited because, I’m not going to lie, at first I thought I wasn’t going to get to him,” Hardamon said.
“Thanks to coverage, the guys gave me an extra second to get to the quarterback. It felt good to help the team win.”
As a team, BGSU had 10 tackles for loss and they held Miami to just 10 first downs, while the BGSU offense racked up 21 first downs, including converting on two fourth downs early in the game.
BGSU senior inside linebacker Darren Anders had seven tackles, one sack and two pass break-ups, and a key third down tackle on Smith late in the game. Senior inside linebacker D.J. Taylor also had seven tackles.
Loeffler said Saturday’s game was a world away from the 38-7 loss to Buffalo a week earlier.
“They had a tough week last week,” Loeffler said. “They didn’t protect the ball. This week they came with an edge. They came with juice. Like I said, if every week we can bring energy, juice, and effort, we have enough talent.”
Loeffler said the energy seemed to take hold on Friday after the team’s leadership council called for a meeting.
“Friday’s practice, it was the most enthusiastic practice,” Loeffler said. “We had that at Florida, and as crazy as that team was, they had juice. Friday felt like I was at Urban’s (Meyer) practice. It was awesome.”
Hardamon added that the energy was contagious, carrying over into the game on Saturday.
“You can feel it when you’re playing, it just gives you a little bit more oomph to go a little bit harder not to let the team down. You definitely feel it,” Hardamon said.