Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sweet Victory: The Game Flow, and some appreciation.

As mentioned earlier...nothing comes easy for this crew.  Last night's win was no exception, but last night's win was a win.  The East might be (or, IS) weak, but BG beat every team except Miami and did not play them.  They clearly deserve to be the MAC East champions.

Even given the hue and cry this year, no team has won the MAC East back-to-back since Miami did it in 2003.  It is obviously a hard thing to do and BG has done it and the results speak for themselves.

BG took the field against a team that was 1-8 and winless in MAC play.  There was not going to be a better chance to lock down the East, and for the first 15 minutes it appeared that BG was going to be doing what its fans secretly--in their dark hearts--want to make happen, and that's to blow a team off the field.

The first quarter looked like everyone was going to get their wish.  BG was doing everything right.  Kent had one first down while BG was in the red zone four times.  Some warning signs were dropped...BG stalled on two of those four drives and missed a FG and led 17-0 when it could easily have been 28-0.

Even the start of the second quarter was good.  BG drove inside the 10 once again, but also stalled once again and kicked a field goal.  Everyone was feeling pretty good.  The Falcons had raced to a 20-0 lead with almost no friction.  It didn't seem to be a big deal that the lead could have been much larger because it seemed like the game was set--BG would continue to move the ball and the defense would continue to get stops.

I wrote here about Kent's issues with at the QB position.  They had started Nathan Strock, who had perked the team up against UT, but last night he was ineffectively.  They brought Reardon (the original starter) back in, and he started to get results right away.  Almost on cue, the BG offense began to get mired in a slump.

Still, with 6:29 left, BG had dropped Kent on its own 8 and you had to feel pretty good that they could not drive the whole field.  In fact, you were probably thinking that you had a shot to get the ball back in good field position.

In the actual event, Kent DID drive the field.  They converted a 4th down around midfield and then were inside the BG 25 and seemingly in no special hurry when they caught BG in a full blitz and hit a screen to make it 20-7, which was how it was at the half.

The second half kickoff went OB for BG, and that set up a string of poor field position possessions where Kent was threatening the entire way.  Kent stuck BG on the 12 and then on the 8...the second possession did not go well, BG had a grounding penalty and punted from its own 3.  Kent had a big punt return from that left them (even after a penalty) on the BG 30.

BG had a PI on the first play after the punt return but then Clint Stephens made a huge INT for BG to keep Kent from scoring.  The Falcons were back on the 3, however, and Chris Pohlman fumbled on the 4 and Kent had the ball back and this time they didn't miss and scored to make it 20-14.

It was almost a relief because it meant that BG was going to get the ball in some decent field position, still up 6.  Kent's KO went OB, but BG only made 1 first down and failed to capitalize and punted the Flashes down to the 12.

Kent's offense was cracking at this point.  They made 3 first downs in 6 plays and were inside BG territory when the BG defense bailed them out again with a great INT by Gabe Martin.  It was one of those where the ball is on the defender unexpectedly and he hung on and the Falcons had the ball back.

Finally, the Falcons offense began to move the ball again.  BG moved from its own 32 to the Kent 3 in 15 freaking plays, chewing up 5 minutes and converting exactly 1 3rd down.  BG got to the 8 and then ran Givens 3 straight no avail...and kicked another.  A FG would have been great, but it did put the lead over 2 scores at 23-14.

The value of that--and of the missed TD became immediately apparent, and Kent started on its own 40 and hit the BG end zone six plays later, virtually without slowing down.  They doinked the XP and it was 23-20 with 9 minutes left.  I can't describe how much the game was in the balance...Kent was getting stops against BG and they seemed to be moving the ball against our defense.

And then the offense came up with the plays they needed.  Knapke hit Burbrink for 45 yards to the Kent 33--Burbrink made a huge grab in traffic to get the ball--and then he hit Lewis to the 2 where Lewis made the grab while being interfered with.  He is incredible in traffic.  Anyway, BG punched that one in and had a 30-20 lead with 7:47 to play.

Kent needed to score twice, but they were still in the game.  Three plays after another OB kickoff, Kent was on the BG 24 and there was certainly no comfort in the Falcon nation.  Reardon then overthrew a receiver and Ward got the pick BG absolutely needed and the Falcons had the ball on the 5 with about 5 minutes left.

Even with this, the game was still in doubt and it was even more in doubt when BG fumbled on its own 5 yard line.  As the stadium went into cardiac arrest, Chris Pohlman wrestled the ball out of Kent player's arms and made what might amount to the play of the game.  The Falcons then proceeded to make two critical first downs, go #falconslow to eat clock and put the game away.  There was a late punt and one more INT and then it was time for the alma mater.

It was a very good day to be a Falcon.  It did not come easy, but BG did make the plays they needed to win the game.  Remember the 2010 season, when there were close games that BG lost because they didn't know how to make those plays?  Even last year's men's basketball team suffered from this disease.

This team knew how to win that game last night.  And, for the first time in a decade, the East has back-to-back winners and the last time was when Miami had a QB who now has multiple Super Bowl rings.  BG's season hasn't been perfect to date, but there has been much to appreciate.

Oh...and if BG wins next week I think you will hear the complaining stop.  More later.

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