Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sweet Victory #4: Recap

There's lots more to come...was this the game between game 4 and 6 when the offense finally got it?  They certainly had a record-setting day.  Anyway, slice it how you like BG got a comfortable win at home that they need.  With Akron, OU, and Toledo, WMU and Ball State lying ahead, BG has a lot of tough games ahead that they are going to need and this was one you had to have you and you got.

UMass won the toss and deferred.  This is something I always liked to see.  UMass was playing the "keep it in front of you" approach, and BG went on an 11-play drive to get an opening TD.  The drive featured a DPI on UMass when Dieter had completely torched their DB, two big runs by Travis Greene, and finally a TD pass on third and goal when BG brought the heavy lineup in and then dropped Lee off in the end zone for a pass.  He was wide open.  BG 7-0.

UMass has a good QB and a good offensive system and completed 5 straight passes to move to the BG 29.  BG had a defensive holding on a 3rd and 3 and UMass ended up with a 3rd and 3 from the BG when the BG defense did the one thing it does pretty well, which is get a stop in tight space.  Frohnapfel threw an incomplete pass on 3rd down and Whipple did something he hasn't done too much of this year, which is kick at FG to make it 7-3.

BG's next drive was cut short by a holding penalty and UMass started on their 19.  What ensued was a pretty dominant drive by the Minutemen.  BG got two sacks on the drive and still gave up first downs--they converted on 3rd and 13 and 3rd and 14--and eventually capped an 11 play, 4+ minute drive to take the lead 10-7.

BG took the kickoff, tried to run it back, got a penalty and started on the 9.  BG picked up 2 first downs and then blew a hole in the "keep in front of you" strategy by tossing a 71 yard TD pass from Matt Johnson to Ronnie Moore on the last play of the first quarter.  When Moore caught the ball, he was about even with the UMass defender, but from there he just ran right away from the guy for the score.  BG 14-10.

UMass went on the roll again.  They completed a pass deep into BG territory before what was a key sequence in the game.  On the pass, the officials called targeting on Dernard Turner.  I didn't get a real close look at iphone replay in the stands...but it was one of those plays where the guy is moving to the ground being tackled by 3 guys.  Anyway, they go to the review and announce that the targeting was confirmed and #16 was ejected...which is Austin Valdez.  Assuming it is a mistake, Dernard Turner headed to the locker room.

There's a ton of confusion on the sideline, they go back to the replay and confirm it was Valdez, BG's leading tackler.  A trainer goes SPRINTING off to the locker room to fetch Turner while Valdez left angrily.  Finally, Turner comes back and he's now exhorting his teammates.  Following the keystone cops routine by the officials, BG actually seemed to get some fire on defense.  BG got an incomplete pass and a 1-yard run and then on third down Alfonso Mack made one of the game's biggest plays with an end zone pick to keep UMass from scoring.

As an aside, I really like Mack.  He a young player and he loses some battles out there, but he absolutely keeps fighting and you'll see him make another big play a few seconds later.  He's a battler and he's only going to get better.

After the game, Johnson and Babers both talked about the pressure this offensive style puts on other teams.  When you throw a pick (or even punt) and BG has the ability to stick the ball right back down the field, it is a big momentum switch.  And then, as Babers says, you have to come get us, which is something that is tough when we are humming.

Which is what happened, as BG drove the 78 yards in 1:46, ending with a 32 yard TD run by Travis Greene where a UMass back went to tackle him on the 5 and Greene just stiff-armed him like a boss for the score.

It is 21-10.

Set back by a personal foul, UMass punted and BG started on the 33 again.  BG was still humming and went on a 9 play, 3:47 drive to get down the field---including a play when Matt Johnson was hit while of the problems of the targeting thing is you rarely seen two calls in one game--and Donovan Wilson punched it in and BG led 28-10.

There was 4:29 left in the 2nd Q.  UMass really needed a score and they got it, moving the 81 yards in 1:39, aided by a BG personal foul and ending with a TD pass to Sharpe to make it 28-17.

BG got the ball back with 2:51 left...time to score twice...just kidding.  Anyway, BG was inside the UMass 25 when they were hit with a personal foul and then on a 2nd and long Johnson threw a pass to Dieter.  It went off his hands and was intercepted with :07 left in the half.

Babers said after the game "there is no grey area in our program.  If it hits your hands, you catch it.  If you don't want that, then when Johnson scrambles, don't get your butt open."

All right then.

The start of the 2nd half initiated the game's decisive sequence.  UMass took the ball and drove to their 42.  On 3rd down BG made a big tackle to stop the Minutemen one yard shot.  Then, they decided to go for it--another example of us putting pressure on their decision-making--and Frohnapfel threw the ball into a tight space for an incompletion.  He was upset there was not a call on BG, but those are harder to get when you try and fit the ball into those tight areas.

BG took over and did what they do, which was to take 8 plays to score and go up 35-17.

On the first play of the next drive, Nate Locke (getting more snaps with Valdez out) drilled the UMass RB and forced a fumble.  Johnson was sacked on the first play, but on 3rd down with an offsides penalty in play, Johnson took his shot, drilling a 100% perfect to Burbrink on the very edge of the end zone for a 40 yard TD and a 42-17 lead.

At which point the game was more or less over.

UMass took the next kickoff to the house to get it to 42-24, but BG kept them on the mat with a TD drive that culminated with a 12-yard screen pass to Travis Greene that was wide open.  At this point, there was 5:49 left in the 3Q and BG led 49-24.

UMass scored a TD and BG responded with a FG to make it 52-31 at the end of the 3Q.

UMass drove inside the BG 25 before they stalled out again, and on the next drive Johnson hit Roger Lewis for 68 yards and a long TD to go to 59-31.  With Knapke at the helm, BG added a FG and UMass picked up a TD with the backups in the game to get to the final 62-38.

A lot of records were set.  BG needed a win and they got it.  That is how the offense is supposed to work.  Now, will it work that way against OU or UT?  Or Akron?  That remains to be seen.  My feeling is that while we may not get 700 yards in those games, I do believe we can score on anyone in our conference.  There's just huge weapons and Matt Johnson is playing at a really high level.  He made some big time throws Saturday.

Obviously, I don't know what is going to happen, but it is going to be worth watching, that's for sure.

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