Bowling Green’s attempts to keep the Kent State offense off the field failed, and the Golden Flashes ran away with a 40-7 Mid-American Conference victory at Doyt L. Perry Stadium Wednesday.
The Golden Flashes improve to 4-6 overall and 3-3 in the MAC East, while the Falcons fall to 5-5 and 4-2. For Kent State, it was their first road win of the season.
“Great to get that outcome,” Kent State coach Sean Lewis said. “For the first time, all three phases played really well, complimentary football.
“We did a really nice job of coming out and playing physical when it was going to be a physical game. Really thought we imposed our physical dominance and was really pleased with the soul collectors.
“They were very active with five sacks on the night. It was a great shot of life for everyone in the organization.”
Field position ultimately doomed the Falcons. On two first quarter possessions, BGSU went for the first down on fourth down near midfield, and both times the Falcons failed.
Kent State’s first four possessions started at the BG 24, Kent State 48, and the 50-yard line twice in a row, and ultimately it became too much for the Falcons’ defense to stop.
“It was my decision to go for it on fourth down as many times as we did,” BGSU coach Scot Loeffler said.
“The plan was to keep them off the field, and it starts with me. It’s the first time since I’ve been here that I can say that I was outcoached. It’s 100% my responsibility.”
BGSU senior quarterback Matt McDonald added, “That set the tone of the game early and we knew we needed to make those plays early on to keep us in it.
“We needed to keep their explosive offense off the field, and we weren’t able to do that. We need to find ways to sustain drives and finish them with touchdowns.”
BGSU did find a way to stop Kent State on their first three possessions, but the Golden Flashes exploded for three touchdowns and 20 points in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, BGSU mounted a nine-play, 68-yard drive that resulted in a 24-yard touchdown pass from McDonald to junior wide receiver, but a two-point conversion failed.
Kent State drove from their own 30 to the BGSU 27, but on a fourth-and-four, BGSU 6-foot-4, 300-pound senior defensive end Karl Brooks tackled Kent State junior running back Marquez Cooper for a one-yard gain to force a turnover on downs.
It looked at that point that a BGSU comeback might be in the cards, down two touchdowns with another possible scoring drive on the way, and most of the fourth quarter to play yet.
The Falcons drove to the Kent State 37, but a holding penalty pushed BGSU back to its 47. Facing a third-and-19, McDonald tried to pass out of a collapsing pocket, but his throw went two yards and was intercepted by linebacker C.J. Harris.
Kent State’s offense got its traction back from that point on, scoring 20 more second half points to put the game away, including a pick-six by linebacker Marvin Pierre.
Looking at the numbers, BGSU did not fare as poorly as the scoreboard showed. Kent State had 415 total yards to the Falcons’ 311, and the Flashes had 25 first downs to the Falcons’ 21.
“We were planning to go for it, be as aggressive as we possibly could be,” Loeffler said. “We’re inconsistent at running the ball right now.”
McDonald was throwing the ball well, completing 31-of-40 passes for 246 yards, but getting sacked five times and hurried multiple times made it difficult to find downfield receivers.
“I thought we threw the ball really well, and I thought Matt played well,” Loeffler said. “But we didn’t protect the passer and we didn’t run the ball well enough, and again, it’s 100% on me.”
McDonald refused to allow the sacks to be an excuse.
“I have to execute the play to the best of my abilities and count on everyone else doing their jobs to the best of their abilities,” McDonald said.
Broden caught eight passes for 84 yards, senior tight end Christian Sims had six catches for 68 yards, senior receiver Cavon Croom had three catches for 30 yards and senior receiver Odieu Hilliare caught eight passes for 24 yards.
BGSU sophomore running back Jaison Patterson led the rushing attack with 52 yards on 16 carries and he caught two passes for 19 yards.
Freshman tight end Harold Fannin Jr. had two catches for 15 yards, and North Baltimore product Levi Gazarek, a sophomore tight end, had a catch for five yards.
For Kent State, Cooper ran 19 times for 100 yards as the Flashes’ rushing attack accumulated 212 yards.
Junior quarterback Collin Schlee completed 17-of-30 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception by BGSU senior interior linebacker D.J. Taylor. It was Taylor’s second interception this season.
Schlee threw a 14-yard TD pass to junior back Bryan Bradford, and he threw 21-yard and 26-yard TD passes to sophomore receiver Devontez Walker.
Schlee also scored on a four-yard run and sophomore kicker Andrew Glass kicked field goals of 26 and 27 yards.
In the MAC East standings, BGSU and Buffalo (5-5, 4-2) remain one game behind division leader Ohio (7-3, 5-1) with two weeks of football remaining.