Bobcats Fall Despite Strong Numbers

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Ohio’s game with Bowling Green on Saturday was a weird one, statistically.

The Bobcats controlled all major statistical categories, running a program-record 110 offensive plays, gaining 513 yards, and controlling the ball for just over 39 minutes.

Yet, the Bobcats fell to the Falcons 31-13.

“It’s an odd deal,” Ohio head coach Frank Solich said. “If you look at [Bowling Green’s] past games and ours, today’s stats look like they were reversed. Most stats were in our favor, but it didn’t add up to points.”

The Bobcats downfall in the game has been a problem all season, which is missed opportunities on offense.

On Ohio’s third possession of the game, the Bobcats started with great field position at Bowling Green’s 37-yard line, but were only able to get a field goal to cut the deficit to 14-3.

It was more of the same from that point on, as Ohio sustained six drives of nine plays or more, but was only able to manage 10 points out of those possessions.

“Football is a game of putting points on the board, not necessarily the number of plays, first downs, and [time of possession] in the game,” Solich said. “Those things don’t really matter. What matters is making plays to put points on the board and not hurting yourself to do that.”

What frustrated Solich and the rest of the Ohio coaching staff was Ohio’s 16 penalities for 153 yards, with several of those negating explosive plays, and helped lead to stalled drives.

“You can’t finish off drives and put points on the board when you’re heavily penalized,” Solich said. “Also defensively, you allow them to continue drives and put points on the board. [Penalties] haven’t been a problem for us this year, so I’m not sure how that came about.”

A few players mentioned lopsided number of penalties in the game, comparing Ohio’s 16 penalties to Bowling Green’s eight.

“I feel like it wasn’t a fair game, with the referees,” senior running back Tim Edmond said. “But at the same time, refs are refs, you just have to play with it.”

Bowling Green and their high-powered offense came into the game averaging about 500 yards of offense per game, and their first two possessions showed why.

After taking the game’s opening kickoff, the Falcons drove 75 yards on just six plays before scoring on a 27-yard screen pass from quarterback James Knapke to running back Travis Greene to put BG on top 7-0. The drive took a mere 1:27 off the clock.

And on Ohio’s ensuing possession, quarterback J.D. Sprague fumbled on the first play of the drive, and the Falcons recovered on Ohio’s 29-yard line. A few plays later, running back Andre Givens plunged into the end zone from two-yards out to increase their lead to 14-0, with just 2:42 gone from the first quarter.

Ohio’s defense began to settle in from here on out, as they forced Bowling Green into eight punts on the day, and held the Falcons to just 355 total yards in the game.

It was also a much-improved game for Sprague, who completed 27 of his 56 pass attempts for 325 yards, while also running for a team-high 49 yards on 16 attempts.

“We still lost,” Sprague said of his performance.

The Bobcats would not reach the end zone until the 9:26 mark of the fourth quarter, when a 15-play, 75-yard drive was capped off with a two-yard touchdown run by Edmond, making it 28-13 Falcons.